We respect the right of Tamboran Resources to put their case in an open and honest manner – they have, after all, been granted a licencing option in the area of shale gas by the State. However, in line with our belief that the debate should be an informed one, we draw attention to the following:
We show Page 60 of Tamboran Resources’ presentation to Engineers Ireland at the Sligo Park Hotel early in 2012. This presentation is dated September 2011 and may well be the same one given privately to various gatherings since then. A member of the Impact Research Group attended a Tamboran Resources presentation to Oireachtas members early in 2012 and a more moderate presentation was given on that occasion.
The full presentation may be seen on Tamboran’s website at http://www.tamboran.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Tamboran_Engineers_Ireland_Northwest-Carboniferous_Basin-Natural_Gas_Project_web.pdf
We sent Dr. (not Mr.) Howarth, Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Cornell University, a full copy of Tamboran’s presentation, and received the following reply:
“My co-authors and I have taken a close look at how the presentation mis-represents our work. In response, we offer the following:
1) our paper, published in April 2011 in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, was the very first comprehensive analysis of the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas; in it, we stressed the uncertainties, and called for more direct research on methane emissions, which dominate the footrprint; the paper is freely available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/e384226wr4160653/fulltext.pdf?MUD=MP
2) after our paper came out, the US EPA revised their estimates of methane emission from shale gas, and now present an estimate that overlaps with the range of estimates we published;
3) also after our paper, there was a flurry of other reports and publications on the subject; many of these support our analysis, while others are critical; this is the normal course of science. In early 2012, we published another follow-up paper in the peer-reviewed literature, which objectively compares and contrasts all of the published estimates on methane emissions since our April 2011 publication. An important conclusion was that given ANY of the published methane estimates, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas is worse than that of coal, when viewed at the integrated time of 0-20 years following emission, and using the latest science on the global warming potential of methane compared to carbon dioxide. This paper is freely available at: http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Howarthetal2012_Final.pdf
4) we and several additional colleagues also wrote a background paper for the US National Climate Assessment, at the request of White House staff, which summarizes all of the available science on methane, the natural gas industry, and global climate change. Most of what we present there is also in the paper mentioned in point #3 above, but we were also able to include a brand-new study by a group at the University of Colorado and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration that was only accepted in January 2012 (Petron et al. 2012). That study is the very first to have actual landscape-scale measurements of methane emission from unconventional gas development, and it showed that both we and the US EPA had been a little low in our estimation of the problem. This background paper is available at:
One of the critical aspects we raised in both of the papers mentioned in points #3 and #4 above is the urgency of getting methane under control. According to a UN report from last summer and a paper by Shindell and others published in SCIENCE in January 2012, it is critical that global methane emissions be reduced immediately, or else the planet faces a high danger of reaching critical point temperatures within the next 15 to 35 years, leading to uncontrollable further global warming.
We would be pleased if you could help get our message out in Ireland,
Robert W. Howarth, Ph.D.
David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and
Environmental Biology, Cornell University”
Note from Impact Research Group:
Please note also the Disclaimer at the beginning of Tamboran’s presentation which includes “….. references to “gas in place”, or “GIP”, refer to estimates of unrisked, unproven resource potential, based on parameters derived from existing well data and rock sample descriptions, and general literature, and should be considered as “speculative.””
While such a disclaimer is normal practise, we are critical of much public discussion on the subject, including claims by Tamboran, which assumes a certain level of viable gas reserves, not supported to date by any hard evidence. Once again we urge caution and everyone should wait until sufficient information is available on all aspects of the shale gas issue.
While considering claims and estimates by promoters of Shale Gas Extraction for Ireland, you may also wish to see our Study Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Industry and the Shale Gas Question which includes
” in 2011 the United States Geological Survey downgraded the Marcellus Shale gas reserves estimate by 80%. The original estimates were supplied by the industry. (Bloomberg August 23rd 2011)”
“The British Geological Survey has put the likely recoverable Shale Gas in Lancashire at less than 0.47 trillion cu. ft., which is 1/400th of Quadrilla’s stated estimate of 200 trillion cu. ft. (Guardian April 17th 2012)”.