There’s been some misconceptions floating around about the Pickens Plan and natural gas. Case in point, this column from Seattle Post-Intelligencer business columnist Bill Virgin. He writes:
For natural gas, the issue is supply. Some in the energy industry, such as Puget Sound Energy Chief Executive Steve Reynolds, have been warning that natural gas supplies just for the uses we’ve got now — home water and space heating, industry, electricity production and a small bit of transportation — are thin enough as they are. “On a world basis there is plenty of natural gas available for an extended period of time,” he says. “Whether there is in North America is another question.”
Anyone who has bothered to read the Pickens Plan knows that a key component directly addresses Virgin’s alarm-ringing about supplies for “home water and space heating, industry, and electricity production.” Specifically, using wind power to generate electricity rather than natural gas. That, obviously, frees up a lot of natural gas for use as a transportation fuel.
As for all the doom and gloom about America’s domestic natural gas supply being “thin,” well…check out this story from Reuters on July 30:
The United States has over 100 years worth of natural gas supplies, and forecasters have consistently low-balled the amount of the clean-burning fuel trapped in unconventional places like shale rock, an industry group said on Wednesday.
Total U.S. recoverable supplies amount to 2,247 trillion cubic feet, or 118 years worth of supply at current production levels, according to a report funded by the American Clean Skies Foundation and completed by Navigant Consulting Inc.
The foundation is chaired by Aubrey McClendon, the outspoken chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp, the third-largest U.S. natural gas producer.
“The size of these shale gas deposits is so enormous that they can no longer be overlooked,” said McClendon, whose company is making big bets in shale gas plays like the Barnett Shale in Texas and the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana.
More conservative estimates peg U.S recoverable natural gas supplies at 1,680 trillion cubic feet, or 88 years of supply.
88 years is a long time. The truth is, since the Pickens Plan is simply a bridge until clean, renewable technologies are realistic for all our transportation needs, natural gas will be around long after we stop needing it.