Is New York's Shale Worthless?

j16 card frontOn January 16th, 2014, the New York Society for Ethical Culture and a host of local electeds, plus community and environmental groups presented a panel of experts who had examined the well data coming out of Pennsylvania, and compared it to the geology.

How deep was the shale? How thick? And how much gas did it produce? And how would that data predict New York State's own potential for shale gas production?

What they found was on a continuum with reports previously done by Deborah Rogers and Art Berman: That a very small portion of the shale play produced well (a "sweet spot") but the majority of the wells produced far below industry's overblown predictions. But it was how the production tied to geology that was most intriguing: Where the rock was thin and shallow, little gas was produced. As it happens, most of New York's shale fits that same description–too shallow and too thin. It seems the possibilities for NYS drillionaires is nil.

Is NY's shale worthless? No, but it's not worth very much, and it's definitely not worth the risks.

The speakers harped on those risks: wildcat drillers willing to take their chances; all the destruction and disruption of truck traffic; threats to aquifers and air quality; the pillaging of small town budgets–and worse–drillers looking at NY's dead shale as good for disposal wells! Professor Anthony Ingraffea reemphasized the heavy risks versus the slim rewards in this radio interview with Alison Rose Levy.

The firestorm that resulted from this statistical presentation was unexpected. We responded to those concerns in this earlier blog post. Now the videos of the event are available for you to judge for yourself.

In order of appearance: Professor Ingraffea; Energy Investor, Chip Northrup; Geologist, Brian Brock; Systems analyst, Jerry Acton; retired O&G executive, Lou Allstadt. A video of the Q&A session follows.