Friday, October 3, 2008

We've got gas

One thing that Sarah Palin mentioned last night in the debate was particularly interesting: "And we're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets."

The part about "we're building" is a bit of a stretch. It's still more of a pipe dream, if you will. It's been in the planning stages for many years, and it looks as if construction won't be started - if at all - until sometime in 2010. The plan is to build a pipeline all the way from Prudhoe Bay to Chicago and pump 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the U.S. each day. This would provide 7 percent of the nation's gas supply. When The New York Times wrote about this last April, (click to read),, the cost was estimated at $30 billion. That's inflation for ya.

Now what I'm thinking is this: Allegheny Power couldn't even manage to build a power line across Washington and Greene counties for all the heat they got, so how are the oil companies going to talk everyone from the friggin' North Pole to Chicago, Ill., to let this pipeline cross their backyards?

And here's an interesting observation: Gas wells are being drilled all over this area into what is called the Marcellus Shale. There's about 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas locked in the shale down there, more than half of it in Pennsylvania. Current U.S. demand for gas is 23 trillion cubic feet per year. Granted, the gas in the Marcellus Shale is a little harder to extract than the gas in Alaska, but criminy! You don't have to spend $40 billion to pipe it; the pipelines are already here.

I can see why Palin prefers the Alaska gas option: It will bring Alaskans $3 billion a year. But if the Marcellus Shale turns out to be as productive as some folks think, that pipe will remain a dream.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So when they tap the shale, the gas will last us .. 10 years? How foresighted. After that our kids can heat their homes cow flatulence.