Posts Tagged ‘natural gas’

Offshore gas has important environmental advantages, particularly nonassociated gas-well gas (GWG). While the GoM production chart (below) is not pretty, there are signs that gas production may have bottomed and is slowly rising. This is largely due to growth in oil-well gas (OWG) associated with deepwater oil production.

A successful offshore program requires a mix of strategies, and it is encouraging that companies are still pursuing natural gas on the GoM shelf. The second chart (below), based on BOEM data, shows 2022 YTD (probably through Oct.) GWG production for the 11 companies that (1) produced more GWG than OWG and (2) produced more than 1 BCF of GWG.

Interestingly, 100% of the gas produced by Contango, Samchully, and Helis in 2022 was from gas wells. Contrast this with bp, the third largest GoM gas producer. None of bp’s gas production was from gas wells.

One has to wonder about the extent to which deepwater gas reservoirs are being stranded due to the less favorable economics. Preventing such resource losses was once an important regulatory consideration given the conservation mandate in the OCS Lands Act and the importance of maximizing the public benefit. However, current policy, as expressed in the proposed 5 year leasing plan, is to phase out offshore production rather than sustain it. This is difficult to reconcile.

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100+ tcf and the discoveries keep coming. Here’s the latest:

London, 7 November 2022 – Energean plc is pleased to announce that i) the Zeus 01 exploration well has made a commercial gas discovery of 13 bcm ii) contingent resources at Athena have been upgraded following post-well analysis; and iii) the Stena IceMax drilling rig has moved to block 23 to drill the Hercules structure, the final well in Energean’s 2022 drilling campaign.

Will the gas/power transmission systems follow?

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Further, per the ONRR data:

Oil-Well Gas
Gas-Well Gas
total gas
total gas flared
or vented
% flared
or vented

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In a world where diplomacy seems to be lacking, it’s nice to learn that Israel and Lebanon have reached an agreement on their maritime boundary, and that both countries are satisfied. Based on press reports, it appears that the Qana gas field will fall under the control of Lebanon and that Israel will control the Karish field. Good for Lebanon, good for Israel, and good for energy!

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towing the Troll platform, 1995

Good article from our friends at the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway. When old guys reminisce, people need to listen 😉

“Reagan feared that the world, and especially Europe, would become too dependent on Soviet gas, and saw Troll as an opportunity to create greater independence.”

“Lerøen sees parallels to the current situation, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the importance Norwegian gas has for the EU, which wants to become independent of Russian gas.” 

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I vote for stupid comment.

The CEO of Italian power firm Enel has cast doubt on the continued benefit of using gas to produce electricity, telling CNBC it is “stupid” and that cheaper and better alternatives are now available.

“You can produce electricity better, cheaper, without using gas … Gas is a precious molecule and you should leave it for … applications where that is needed,” he added.

Francesco Starace to CNBC

Gas is scarce and expensive in Europe because of bad foreign and energy policy decisions, most notably dependence on Russia and unrealistic expectations regarding renewables. Mr. Starace seems intent on doubling down on the latter. Of course, Enel is a large renewable energy generator and a natural gas purchaser and consumer (not a producer). His comments are thus rather self-serving.

I do agree with Enel on CCS:

Although the company could rely on carbon offsets or carbon capture to hit that target, Bernabei said the technology has failed to take off, despite receiving funding from the EU and national governments. He said there is no reason to expect that situation to change, especially since carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technology is not guaranteed to eliminate 100% of emissions.

“These are very big and complex projects. And at the end, they will not solve the problem,” Bernabei said. “We already tried CCS in the past and it didn’t lead to success. So why do it again?”


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“We will need gas throughout the transitional phase,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.


Germany has a very strong Green lobby that has now become part of the ruling coalition. Despite an anti-fossil fuel discourse, the Greens have now apparently accepted the necessity of at least one fossil fuel, perhaps not least because Germany has plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by the end of this year.


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Offshore gas production (see chart below) has declined for the past 20 years and now accounts for only 4% of total US gas production, down from 20% in 2005 and 25% in the 1990s. Associated gas production (oil-well gas) has remained relatively constant owing to the strength in deepwater GoM oil production. 73% of 2020 gas production was from deepwater wells, and was mostly oil-well gas. Associated gas production surpassed nonassociated gas production (gas-well gas) in 2016 and the latter has continued to decline.

The case for natural gas has been well documented (see the EQT letter linked below). Recent natural gas advocacy has emphasized the carbon/GHG advantages given that methane (CH4) is essentially a hydrogen transporter that emits far less CO2 than other fossil fuels when burned. However, natural gas’s other important air quality advantages – low NOx. SO2, and particulate emissions – have greater local significance from a human health standpoint. Those who have ridden a bike behind a natural gas powered bus have no doubt experienced the natural gas advantage firsthand. These buses are literally a breath of fresh air!

Other environmental advantages of offshore natural gas, particularly nonassociated gas, receive less attention but are nonetheless significant. Advantages of nonassociated offshore gas include the following:

  • Fewer wells required than for shale gas
  • No risk of fresh water contamination
  • Platforms provide beneficial reef effects
  • Minimal space preemption and land disturbance relative to onshore gas production and wind/solar operations
  • Low facility density and navigation risks relative to wind operations;
  • Lower elevation and fewer view-shed, aesthetic, and aviation issues than for wind
  • Minimal avian risks relative to on- and offshore wind operations
  • Minimal spill risk relative to oil and associated gas production
  • Significantly less flaring than for oil well gas. While the overall % of US offshore gas production that is flared is low (approx. 1.0 -1.5% from 2016-2020 per EIA data), the % of gas-well gas that is flared has historically been less than 0.5%.

Low natural gas prices and competition from nimble and efficient shale operations have constrained offshore gas exploration. Ultradeep (subsurface) drilling has shown promise from a gas resource perspective but has proven to be expensive and operationally challenging. Some independent producers are still acquiring gas prone shelf tracts and that needs to be encouraged. Consideration should be given to incentives such as making nonassociated gas production royalty free. That would certainly seem preferable to subsidizing complex, expensive, and uncertain carbon disposal operations on offshore leases.

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This letter from EQT CEO Toby Rice to Senator Elizabeth Warren summarizes data demonstrating the importance of shale gas in dramatically reducing US GHG emissions. A few excerpts:

In 2019, the United States emitted 970 million metric tons less than in 2005, with 525 million metric tons of that emissions reduction resulting from replacing coal with natural gas in power generation. Said another way: since 2005, in the United States, all emissions reduction efforts combined have had less impact than coal to gas switching alone.

The emissions associated with the production of natural gas are dwarfed by the emissions reduction of switching from the consumption of coal to gas.

Meanwhile, China, which produced only 3% of the world’s natural gas but the majority of the world’s coal, saw its methane emissions increase by an amount roughly equivalent to adding a second Europe to the world.

Letter from EQT to Senator Warren

Meanwhile, natural gas prices have soared to record levels in Europe and a predicted polar vortex may spike US demand. This OilPrice.com chart illustrates the remarkable divergence between US and European gas prices.


Will natural gas demand lead to a resurgence in US offshore gas-well drilling?

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I just sent someone an email commenting that demand for Australian LNG (and their offshore gas production) was about to soar, but it  looks like the Wall Street Journal is already on this story.

A global shift away from nuclear power in response to the atomic plant crisis unfolding in Japan will likely spur a scramble for Australian energy, catapulting the country ahead of Qatar as the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas in the near future.


More Asian gas demand: China has suspended the approval of new nuclear projects.

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