Frackonomist gets facts wrong about oil production

Keith Halliday's Dec. 5 column, which ran with the glib title "Love it or hate it, fracking is here to stay" starts off with invented data to hype up fracking. "Since 2010, oil and gas production in th

Keith Halliday’s Dec. 5 column, which ran with the glib title “Love it or hate it, fracking is here to stay” starts off with invented data to hype up fracking.

“Since 2010, oil and gas production in the U.S. has gone from a bit over four million barrels a day in oil equivalent to 12 million a day as of September. This is according to the Wall Street Journal and U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is largely due to surges in fracked oil and gas production.”

The EIA in their latest overview report an overall U.S. production rise since 2010 of about daily 20 million barrels of oil equivalent, not Halliday’s five-fold distortion of four million, comprised of 9.7 million barrels oil daily plus 21.3 trillion cubic feet natural gas annually.

The energy in the equivalent of a barrel of oil (crude plus other extracted petroleum liquids), or 42 U.S. gallons, or 35 imperial gallons, or 159 litres, is equal to 1.7 megawatt hours. That’s about one-third of a cord of wood or 6,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

U.S. production of natural gas is equal to about 10 million barrels daily, which together with close to 10 million barrels of oil added up to 20 million barrels in 2011, and to over 24 million barrels daily for 2013.

Halliday’s tabloidstyle try with four million barrels in 2010 to hype perception of frack production is not a typo. He also hides that conventional oil-and-gas production in North America remains the economic feedstock and energy backbone. And that the recently arrived high-intensity fracking standard needs ruinous and ever-increasing subsidies because it has no useful net energy output (similar to debt-increasing and future-job-killing tar-sands steam extraction).

Hence the International Energy Agency reports in its 2013 World Energy Outlook: “The Middle East, the only large source of low-cost oil, remains at the centre of the longer-term oil outlook.

Another nice story in Halliday’s column does not check out: “The U.S., as well as British Columbia, are now feverishly working on facilities to export North America’s gas glut to other countries where gas prices can be two or three times higher.”

He must have seen but doesn’t mention the EIA’s forecast which by 2020 sees U.S. oil production decreasing and imports at around 30 per cent as far as they look, 2035. Shale resources, as the basis of LNG, have been plagued with reserve swindles. Also most of the frack expansion infrastructure such as pipelines, LNG terminals and plants were stalled out before the oil price drop because of investors pulling back.

Matthias Bichsel, a former project and technology director at Shell, put it this way in 2013: “The United States oil and gas industry has ‘overfracked and overdrilled.’”

Seasoned oil-and-gas industrialists like Art Berman and analysts like Deborah Rogers state clearly fracking is more energy waste and investment fraud than resource production.

Rather than responsible oil-and-gas production, the frack hype aims at drilling into pension funds and fracking for media releases, and Halliday delivers.

Peter Becker