Saturday, October 29, 2011

Owen McShane: The Best News this Year.

The fault in the Maui Gas Line is the best news we have had this year. I am confident that most people in New Zealand had no idea how dependent we all are on natural gas as a fuel and energy source and how much benefit the Maui Gas Field provides.

The only long term answer to this problem, caused by a leak in a single pipeline, is to have several gas wells distributed around the country (some of which will be off-shore) all supplying gas into a "gas grid" like the electric grid, which would mean every location would have alternative sources of gas should one link in the network fail.

Gas is the fuel of the future. 

We are now finding massive gas reservoirs evenly distributed all around the world. The International Energy Agency estimates there is a quarter of a millennium’s worth of cheap shale gas available to the world. 

A recently discovered shale gas reservoir in Blackpool, England contains 200 trillion cubic feet of gas enough to keep the entire British economy going for many decades. 

The Middle East dominance of fuel supplies is over and Peak Oil is no longer an issue. 

Gas powered turbines generates electricity and provides the back up generation required by unreliable sources such as wind, solar and tides. The same electricity can power our cars and buses. 

Gas is the starting point for a whole new petrochemical industry. Indeed the discovery of cost effective means of extracting shale gas is a game changer for the whole world's economy, just as computing power has changed the whole communications industry. People were predicting that IBM would rule the world and then along came Microsoft and Apple.

We will need some form of liquid fuels for our aircraft but we would get enough of that as an offshoot from some of the wells. 

But a number of Political parties and Green lobbyists and Coastal Iwi say we should ban exploration for gas and oil offshore. I wonder if they are now having second thoughts. 

For some reason we have been persuaded that the only alternative to oil and coal is windpower, tidal power and other expensive and unreliable power sources. 

Hence the importance of gas has been down-played. And now we have been taken by surprise.

Now that the world is losing interest in AGW, and longing to tell the Middle East to go jump, we should come to our senses and start seriously searching for natural gas everywhere it might be found. 

This is the best way to guarantee our ongoing ability to bake our bread, wash our clothes, warm our buildings and, of course, power up the electrical grid. 

There is nothing like a jolt to bring us to our senses. And maybe winning the RWC has opened our minds to this opportunity to be a powerful energy driven world leading economy, instead of longing to retreat to the caves.

Which major party will have the courage and gumption to declare that becoming a "gas-fired-up" economy is a major part of their long term economic strategy?


Anonymous said...

Well thank you Mr McShane, I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Owen, so much for peak oil. If you add the recently discovered maasive gas field found in the UK there is little cause for concern.

Anonymous said...


I thought tidal - if in prime places (Cook Strait for instance) - and solar should be pretty reliable. You say not. Are you sure?

Tez said...

Green power is only viable with massive feed in gifts from the government to ensure the providing firms turn in a good profit. The tax payer provides the money for these gifts, then has to pay again with higher power bills.

Non of this makes the slightest difference to the worlds temperature.

Britain has decided that it can't afford to bolster the solar industry as previously, and solar firms are going bankrupt.

America has given millions in start up grants to solar power firms, Solyndra cost their tax payers over 500 million dollars for no return.

Its time to get real and leave green power as a luxury good for the pampered rich.

Aaron said...

Robert Muldoon introduced us to a transport infrastructure fueled by clean burning natural gas 30 years ago and subsequent governments allow it to collapse. I had 4 vehicles over 20 years which ran extremely cheaply on it- price was always stable as not subject to international prices. Astounded me that while our infrastructure collapsed progressive economies elsewhere were embracing it.

Owen McShane said...

Reliable has two meanings and I thought the context made the meaning clear in this sentence. Obviously not.
Tidal power is reliable in that you can rely on its performance including the fact that it will generate no power four times a day when the tide turns. But this means you cannot rely on tidal power to deliver power when you need it most. Same with solar power – the sun does not shine at night. And wind power is the least reliable. The power out varies with the cube of the wind speed. So if the wind speed drops by half the power generated falls to one eighth.
Consequently all these sources need back up generation to compensate for their "no go" times. These back up generators need to have a rapid response and gas turbines are the most suitable. Geothermal is reliable as a source but has a slow response time. Hydro is reliable and responsive until there is no water flowing. So the more we depend on "renewables" the more we need natural gas to drive the back up turbines. When the price of this back up is factored in renewables become very expensive.