The destructive earthquake and sweeping harbor wave in Japan; the never-ending war in the Middle East; and the latest heartbreaking devastation from a powerful tornado in Joplin Missouri are all disasters that strike different areas and eventually cripple the economic stability of these affected nations. News has spread all over the globe and great concern has been generated about what happened to other countries because of the striking effect of these man-made and natural disasters on those areas. The economic condition of the affected countries is certainly of great interest to the world. These acts will significantly cripple the nations though in the long run they can recover. These are some of the current problems that we are facing today.
Global Fuel Demands – Worse than Natural Disasters!
An on-going difficulty that the world faces is fluctuating oil prices. Lowering oil prices could mean economic growth while increasing the price could worsen and dampen economic performance. Studies were made and the conclusion was that the increase of oil prices boosts the economic growth of the exporting countries and hinders the growth of the importing nations. Major oil exporters include Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and UAE while the TOP importers are the United States, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea.
The United States of America is facing great restraints because of the direct effect of oil and gas price hikes. Personal commodities, employment, individual income and annual revenue are directly impacted right after significant price changes. Continuing price increases leaves the United States economy facing the possibility of coming to a sudden halt. The nation is currently facing trillions of dollars of debt in the world market due to oil supply importation. Moreover, the increase of oil prices can cause a rapid growth rate of the nation’s gross domestic products, decrease the U.S. dollar valuation and demand will persistently reduce the United States crude oil and gasoline reserves.
The current market status of oil is demonstrated by the interplay of production, supply and consumption. Today, the petroleum supply is so low that the market has become very sensitive to news associated with decreased gasoline supplies which is happening not only in the United States but particularly in Third World countries.
The key factor in understanding this international issue relies on our dependency on a foreign oil supply. Let us not be dependent on what others provide to us, let’s consider a replacement for this yoke of dependence. Yes, to solve this century-old problem, one has to engage in alternative forms of material that can be used as fuel. It could be in the form of cold-fusion, wind, water or solar. It could be in the form of biodiesel, biomass, bio-alcohol, and batteries. However, let’s try to imagine whether these alternative sources could supply the ever-increasing demand of oil in the United States and the Global market. Of course, this is not enough. So, what about natural gas?
Natural gas is considered as the best alternative fuel of today. This is a clean and sustainable energy supply. It can provide 90 percent total energy efficiency. In fact, the use of natural gas can reduce the dependency on oil imported from the Middle East.
The Marcellus Shale
Not all are familiar with a rock formation called the Marcellus shale. This is a formation of black shale that extends deeply throughout the Appalachian basin in Northeastern America. Indeed, the answer to the increasing oil demand in America could be found in this unique section of land. The Marcellus Shale is reputed to hold from 168 trillion to as much as 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and is believed to have the capacity to supply the United State fuel demand for the next century. What a big role the Marcellus Shale could play in our energy future!
In the United States, the Marcellus Shale extends through the regions of New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and western Virginia. The extent is so wide that it reaches even to the border of Canada.
Natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale formation is meaningful because of its capacity to fuel America’s energy needs. This expanse of sedimentary rock can produce a large amount of natural gas and it is believed that it could be the major contributor of natural gas in the entire United States – large enough to be called a ‘giant supplier of natural gas’.
Land management and energy companies have invested billions of dollars in leasing and acquiring land where natural gas producers can explore, research and drill. After the drilling starts, the greatest concern is the impact of this entire operation on the environment and the community. The key issue here is about environmental protection.
Methods of Penetrating Marcellus Shale
There are two methods utilized in penetrating the Marcellus Shale: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Both methods are used to break up these gas-bearing rocks. Removing natural gas with horizontal drilling depends upon the use of large volumes of water for the ‘fracture stimulation’ process. Each well may need three to five million gallons of water. As part of environmental preservation, the use of vacuum trucks is highly recommended. Water is mixed with friction reducer, sand and biocide to break open the shale formation. The process of reusing this water has become more productive. The purchase and thorough inspection of vacuum trucks in this sector is carried out to make sure that the initial fresh water in and the eventually contaminated water out are suitably handled by each vacuum truck used.
The Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) conducts comprehensive reviews about the environmental impact of oil and gas drilling while the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) regulate the volumes of water that are drawn from their respective basins.
Natural gas producers should address vital concerns about the proper conveyance of natural gas, material, equipment and water produced by the Marcellus Shale. The gas must be removed and safely conveyed from the Marcellus Shale in vacuum trucks with great attention to the preservation of these natural resources for the next generation.
Well, the problem of the demand of fuel and the dependency of the American government on oil from foreign lands has a solution that can be found in the ground underneath us. We can learn now and realize in the years to come that the exploration and production of natural gas can positively impact and improve our economy. We can then appreciate that the Marcellus Shale is the energy source of the future!