On November 30th, The Energy Collective presented a live webinar on natural gas with our moderator, Marc Gunther, David Hone from Shell, and Geoff Styles from GSW Strategy Group, LLC. The panel talked about how natural gas is discovered, gathered, and used. You can listen to the archive (or download it for later) and check out the slide deck below.

Listen to the audio: (length 00:59:56)

    or download here (right-click, save as)

Questions and comments during the presentation:

  • Are the CO2 emissions in this slide (Nat Gas and CC: US Electricity) calculated in Life Cycle or comes only from consumption?[Iman Nasseri]
  • Are you familiar with the life-cycle  accounting of greenhouse gas emmisions of shale gas, which show them to be similar to, or worse than, coal?  (Research from Cornell University, Rob't Howarth.)[Mitchell Lavine]
  • nat gas useage from doe can be found here: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/aeoref_tab.html[paul messerschmidt]
  • A recent study shows on LC nat gas might be dirtier than coal?! Is that right?[Iman Nasseri]
  • Not to quibble, but did he say the volt got 50 mpg while in gasoline mode?  That is considerably more than the 37 mpg cited on the Chevy site.  Most studies I've seen say that electrification is better CO2 wise regardless of generation source.[Kevin Leahy]
  • How confident can we be with the EIA estimates given their typical over estimates of oil reserves.[Craig Stowell]
  • Related to the discussion of leakage, coal mining also releases methane.  Is there good research on this?[Don Duggan-Haas]
  • Howarth's earlier version of his research was not impressive, but I posted info on what he's done in the last number of months on The Energy Collective.  There are two questions, how serious are methane emssions that come from gas, and what is the lower limit they can be reduced to.  If the seriousness people force nuclear to control its emissions was applied to gas, how viable would all this new supply be?[David Lewis]
  • Why is there no discussion of the presence of radioactive radon gas in natural gas.[Charles Barton]
  • tab 13 is the spreadsheet of interest: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/excel/aeotab_13.xls[paul messerschmidt]
  • Question for David later in presentation -- I understand depletion rates from unconventional are fairly rapid.  Could this lead to more volatile nat gas prices despite huge reserves?[Kevin Leahy]
  • I haven't seen "Gasland".  I hear it tries to say fracking is not responsible.  What are the views of the panel[David Lewis]
  • i have heard of companies set up to deliver water by truck to support fracing of shale gas so they do not tap into local aquafirs[paul messerschmidt]
  • In May of 2010, NREL published a paper comparing various national RPS and cap and trade combinations. Under some combinations, the model actually showed an increase in coal generation. The reason for this result appeared to be two-fold: explicitly, there was so much renewable generation going on under some combinations that "more room" was made in the U.S. carbon footprint for coal generation. Implicitly, the coal infrastructure was ready and able to supply the baseload underneath the renewable generation. Given such potential combinations in the legislative choices, what is the gas industry lobbying for (or against) in terms of reasonable RPS or cap and trade measures?[Leslie Baer]
  • Is there a risk that the fracking could compromise some of the geology that people may be counting on for geologic sequestration of CO2?[Kevin Leahy]
  • Does fracturing impact the use of that land for carbon sequestration?[Bill Blessing]
  • I've thought it ironic that the Marcellus Shale was once considered as potential uranium ore (a similar formation was exploited as a uranium mine in Sweden).  Richer deposits were discovered.  But my question is, how much higher is the radioactivity a consumer is exposed to as a result of using fracked gas as opposed to conventional.  Conventional gas exposes someone to an order of magnitude greater radioactivity than living next to a reactor, also far more than what they are shutting down Vermont Yankee over.[David Lewis]
  • Are you familiar with the GAO study regarding Colorado and Utah's ability to generate enough water to support growth in hydraulic fracturing? In the west, there seems to be a direct competition between drinking water sources and water for fracking.[Jennifer Krill]
  • What impact is the gas industry anticipating from the current EPA review of fracking fluid regulations? Is it possible to replace some of the hazardous chemicals with beneign chemicals (one example being dehydrated guar rather than guar in a diesel solution) to anticipat changes in these regulations?[Leslie Baer]
  • Why are chemicals needed in the frackwater? What % of the frackwater is made up of chemicals?[Robert Sayle]
  • halliburton disclosure: http://www.halliburton.com/public/projects/pubsdata/Hydraulic_Fracturing... ... http://www.halliburton.com/hydraulicfracturing[paul messerschmidt]
  • I've seen no one who has measured the radon in fracked gas.  Perhaps people would be interested if it exposed them to 100 times more radiation than living right next door to a nuclear reactor, maybe they wouldn't care.  [David Lewis]
  • radium 226 in nat gas finds: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marcellus-shale-natural... ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturally_occurring_radioactive_material[paul messerschmidt]
  • How do you explain the horros presented in "Gas World" if fracking is as safe as you describe?[Bill McCall]
  • How confident can we be with the EIA estimates given their typical over estimates of oil reserves. [Craig Stowell]
  • Given the empty spaces deep down, once nat. gas is out, are there CO2 capture projects going on in parallel to take some of the emissions back ?[Andrea Hemsted]
  • the biggest opportunity to reduce emissions is to put the capital that is going into expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure into expanding the low carbon infrastructure - look at the difference between the French and Danish effort undertaken after the first energy crisis of the 70s.  France went nuclear and the Danes went to coal with wind as a frill.  [David Lewis]
  • renewables now need to compete against surplus of low-cost gas as marginal source of supply.  with long-term gas at $8/mmbtu renewables are competing against $60-70/mwh [paul messerschmidt]
  • what is shell's long term forecast for nat gas?  usdoe is looking at at 2030 nominal price of $11/mmbtu[paul messerschmidt]
  • One of the principle chemical additives in fracking is a gel product to enhance water's ability to transport sand.  Otherwise sand would settle out of the frac fluid before reaching the formation.[Harold Stang]
  • I am planning to put up a natural gas power plant with CCS in Oregon. How do I attract investors? Possibly not a question for this panel but maybe they or someone in the audience has some suggestions. Thanks![Kiran Jethwa]
  • Gas is terminating the 'nuclear renaissance" in the US right now.  [David Lewis]
  • Do the panel members feel a sense of urgency about stabilizing the composition of the atmosphere, or do they view the concern about CO2 as something imposed on them by society who may or may not be right in their idea that this matters?[David Lewis]
  • Can you comment on the moratorium on fracking in NY has just approved?[Alicia Montoya] [aliciamontoya@hotmail.com] [10:59 AM]


New sourcing techniques for natural gas have a great potential impact on the makeup of global energy consumption for some time to come. The role that larger natural gas supplies will play in a push by many countries toward more renewable fuel sources may have a significant outcome for efforts to reduce C02 emissions worldwide and combat climate change, and yet natural gas remains little-understood and, in some instances, controversial.

Some see natural gas as a big improvement over more carbon-producing energy sources like coal, while others are concerned about the environmental impact of sourcing methods like "fracking". Will natural gas serve as an aid in the transition to more responsible energy consumption, or will its newfound availability depress energy prices and slow the move to renewable sources like wind and solar energy?

The Energy Collective brings together experts on gas and energy production to provide their perspectives on the opportunities - or challenges - that natural gas may present for a sustainable energy economy:

  • What will be the impact of natural gas supply on financing renewable energy sources?
  • Which new production and transportation strategies for natural gas could make an impact?
  • Are there new opportunities for Carbon Capture and Sequestration with natural gas?
  • Should natural serve as an interim fuel source in a move toward renewables?



David Hone is Climate Change Advisor for Shell since 2001, as well as a board member and Vice Chairman of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). He also works closely with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and has been a lead contributor to many of its recent energy and climate change publications. David has worked as a refinery engineer in Australia, an oil economics and supply specialist and the Netherlands, and finally manager of the global trading and chartering of Shell's crude oil tanker fleet, before taking his current position.

Geoffrey Styles is Managing Director of GSW Strategy Group, LLC, an energy and environmental strategy consulting firm. His industry experience includes 22 years at Texaco Inc., culminating in a senior position on Texaco’s leadership team for strategy development, focused on the global refining, marketing, transportation and alternative energy businesses, and global issues such as climate change. Previously he held senior positions in alliance management, planning, supply & distribution, and risk management. His "Energy Outlook" blog has been quoted frequently by the Wall Street Journal and was named one of the “Top 50 Eco Blogs” by the Times of London.

Marc Gunther is a veteran journalist, speaker, writer and consultant whose focus is business and sustainability. Marc is a contributing editor at FORTUNE magazine, a senior writer at Greenbiz.com, a lead blogger at The Energy Collective. He's also a husband and father, a lover of the outdoors and a marathon runner. Marc is the author or co-author of four books, including Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business. He's a graduate of Yale who lives in Bethesda, MD.