Shale gas as an alternative
The dispute on whether shale gas can be an alternative in the world energy are taking place for several years in the world. The West has predicted that Russia would soon lose importance in the gas market due to export of American shale gas to Europe. Kiev decided to start its production too. Recently the Ukrainian prime minister Nikolai Azarov stated the country has about 2 trillion cubic meters of gas on the shelf.
Yugeni Yakovlev, senior scientist of the Strategic Studies National Institute under Ukrainian president
Specialists of the whole world, ecologists pay attention to the environmental security of a new technology of shale gas production which is connected with implementation – fracking, or hydrogrinding. There is a difference. The situation resembles development of the nuclear energetic, including in Ukraine where no attention firstly was paid to compatibility of nuclear power stations and geological environment which bares 90% of technological influence and changes caused by these technologies.
Yuri Korolchuk, expert of Energetic Studies Institute
Shale gas is a separate part of non-traditional gas. There is also sand gas, rock gas, and methane from coal. For example, I think for Ukraine it is more profitable to develop production of methane from coal. If the Chinese credit comes to Ukraine, more than $3 billion, it might be allocated for these purposes. Considering that all progressive social forces, first of all environmental, protest against production of shale gas in the world, I wouldn’t make a mountain out of a molehill. What are results of production of shale gas in the world? Only the USA presented them. Other countries have no actual results of shale gas production. China has only begun development of the segment. All other countries only started realize the process and make first explorations – they are sinking probe wells and exploring where this production is possible. For example, the American company Chevron was given the Olesskaya area in Western Ukraine. The Danish-Dutch-British company Shell got a sector in the Yuzovskaya area. They will explore. It doesn’t mean gas production will start in 1-3 years. Shell has declared that it will deal only with production of non-traditional non-shale gas, rock gas, and sand gas. The conditions are similar to production of shale gas, but they have no such fracking burden which might cause pollution of water or minor earthquakes. I repeat that earthquakes take place deep underground and are not felt on the surface.
Considering this problem in a global prospective, a logical question arises: why don’t Ukrainian ecologists protest from traditional gas and oil production? Why don’t they protest against nuclear energy? Only when further construction of the Khmelnitsk nuclear power station continued, the question was posed on a threat, higher radiation background, and possibility of construction new buildings. Why don’t they protest against solar power stations, wind power stations? They are called alternative energy, renewed energy, environmentally proved energy, but they are not safe at all. Where wind mills stand, you will hardly find living creatures, the same concerns solar stations. Any energy sources influence both flora and fauna. We cannot predict what influence they will have in 10-30 years, as they are new today, alternative energy. Shale gas is non-traditional too. Non-traditional gas means new in gas development.
Why do two big Ukrainian companies which produce oil and gas and pollute environment exist in Ukraine for 30 years? Gasland is a movie which was shot as a main argument against development of non-traditional gas production. It shows that taps are turned on, water runs, one fires it, and water burns. 20 movies about this can be made in Ukraine – the Lvov region, the Ivano-Frank region, the Sumskaya region, the Poltaca regions, the Kharkov region. Why doesn’t anybody make the movies? It is a rhetorical question. In fact we see only a clash of lobbying interests in the shale gas issue. There are companies which are interested in development of certain energy segments, there are companies which are interested in development of different segments. At the moment we undergo a stage of exploration and research. We cannot say that Shell or Chevron will definitely stay in Ukraine and produce non-traditional surface gas. Perhaps they will reject the idea because of absence of results.
Nikolai Ivanov, senior analyst of the Energy Department of Energy and Finances Institute
Speaking about non-traditional gas sources, we should speak not about interests of some country or a big territory: it concerns local resources always, concerns certain geological, environmental, technological, and other infrastructural situation in a certain point. Shale gas. Why do we speak about it rather than about sand gas? Sand gas production is not as difficult. It remains at a high level. Production of shale gas has gained explosive character: in recent 5 years the curve was dramatically rising. Why so? The point is in technologies. The point is in fracking, a combination of sinking and frack of the bed. They are being improved by leaps and bounds, from one well to another, from one deposit to another. Today fracking differs from this technology 5 years ago. The multispace fracturing which once was a revolution in gas production has transformed into several verities. The point is in grinding these thin shale resources in such a way that one gets as much as possible gas from them. There are various technologies of covering this space: horizontal drilling, multilateral drilling. It means covering of a big territory with a net of horizontal wells. It includes modern information and computer technologies, computer modeling, geosteering which enables following drilling of a well. It is incredible. I wouldn’t recommend abandoning these technologies, as development of shale gas production technologies cause development of technologies of underground water and surface water protection. The technology which used to be dirty becomes pure as we all concern about pure drinking water. And these concerns are even stronger in America, believe me.
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