Analysis by: Hans Linhardt
Analysis of: Exxon Can Stop Deal if Drilling Method Is Restricted
Published at: online.wsj.com
Exxon was very careful in formulating their deal to acquire XTO, one of the largest independent US shale gas developers. As a matter of fact, in anticipation of potential government interference in the sound and advanced hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") techniques underlying the shale gas plays Exxon put language in their deal to back out in case government (EPA. etc.) make hydraulic water fracking illegal and/or commercially impracticable. Analysis
Of course the successful shale gas developments are shredding the government energy plans and put the energy industry in the driver's seat. There is only one solution for the government but to call on Congress and/or the EPA to declare fracking environmentally dangerous to our drinking water supply and therefore illegal.
Well, the oil & gas industry has more advanced techniques in their pocket and can outplay the EPA with clean cryogenic fracturing. LIN (liquid nitrogen) has been used successfully in Texas EOR projects by Big Three, now part of L'Air Liquide. Nitrogen comes from the atmosphere and would return to the atmosphere without any environmental issues as the gas processing and industrial gas companies are experts in separating N2 from NG.
A more interesting and probably commercially attractive solution would be fracturing with LNG derived from the field shale gas. Cryogenic fracturing would tend to decrease the flow rates of the LNG injections when compared with water fracking due to the significant cryogenic fracking component. With LNG fracking there would be no environmental issues since nearly all the gas would end up in the pipeline. Considering overall investment costs, it may also be feasible - depending on the world LNG market- to truck imported LNG on the Gulf Coast and or the East Coast to the shale plays and inject the LNG for cryogenic fracturing whereby the LNG will in the end be vaporized and put in the pipeline as NG. The technology for LIN and/or LNG is proven and the industrial gas companies and oil & gas companies could unobstructed move ahead to develop our shale gas assets to meet more than 50% of our power demands.
In summary, hydraulic fracking was developed by U.S. inventors and LIN and LNG fracking can follow closely behind without any government interference.
Ooh la la!
Probably no radioactivity either!
Editorial comments in red by Splashdown.