Future Gas and Coal reserves

From a contact

Re natural gas reserves, the best resource I’ve found is at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Canada/NaturalGas.html

Note the paragraph that says: (see the web page for graphs, etc).

Canada has continued to produce natural gas faster than it replenishes its reserves. Canada’s production/reserves ratio (the number of years of proven reserves remaining at existing production levels) has declined from 35 years in 1985 to 9 years in 2006. Along with falling production, demand for natural gas is expected to rise, driven by the oil sands industry and the power sector. According to Ziff Energy Group, natural gas demand by the oil sands industry could rise from 1 Bcf/d in 2007 to 2.8 Bcf/d in 2015. The combination of falling production and rising domestic consumption could impact Canadian natural gas exports to the United States: according to Ziff Energy Group, Canadian natural gas exports to the U.S. could fall to 5 Bcf/d by 2015, versus 9.9 Bcf/d in 2007.
By 2008 the proven reserve is even less.  I cannot immediately recall where I read the 7 year figure, but you can see it would be about right.  The problem is, while gas prices were very high over the last few years we drilled an increasing number of new test holes.  More and more are coming up blank.  Currently, all the gas slated for the Mackenzie River pipeline is destined to be used as a heat source for the tar sands, and none of it will get to market.

Now that prices have dropped to about half of the those earlier this year, the incentive to drill will be less – hence the proven reserves will drop faster than before.

There is still (expensive) gas tied up in under the sea bed frozen methane deposits, and available for transport from Russia via LNG tankers, but it will also be expensive.

That;s why I’m particularly adverse to Ontario’s plans to increase our demand on natural gas by some 40% for the new simple cycle gas turbines (40- 45% efficient) planned (and many now built already) in the current OPA plan.  If you check the Sygration data base you’ll find these gas turbines which are supposed to be used for peaking only, are being used for base load generation 24 hours a day.  As load grows, the use of natural gas for baseload will grow with it.  

Gas prices, electricity prices, and oil prices will all rise together.  Get used to the idea of a more expensive energy future, soon.

Disclaimer – the OPA say my point of view is wrong, that the gas prices will not rise.  Guess we’ll see who is right – they are the experts, and I’m just a realist.

The same US “eia” gives world coal future reserves here:

This does not give the 400 year figure directly, but if you poke around in the eia tables you’ll come across it.  Note, anyone who totally believes projections of total reserves is a bit of an optimist, as no one really knows, although there are some best estimates.


3 responses to “Future Gas and Coal reserves

  1. Background: Ontario’s energy policy has been to convert all of our coal generation electrical plants to natural gas. This will cut down on the emissions but a very inefficient way of using up a limited resource.

    Note: not one coal generation plant in Ontario has all of the proper scrubbers.

  2. The article contains a few factual errors:
    Ontario is not converting coal fired plants to natural gas – Ontario is currently examining converting them to run on various biomass fuels.
    The gas fired generation fleet is not being run as baseload generation. The only gas fired facilities being run at baseload are “Co-gens” which also provide steam to local industries and consequently cannot be shut down. Due to the cost of gas (even at $5/GJ), and the provincial load profile, it is unlikely that gas would ever be used for base load generation in Onatrio.
    Ontario electrical demand is not rising. Domestic load growth has been cancelled by a larger reduction in industrial load.

  3. The source of this comment also tells me that OPG has now test run biofuels successfully at Atikokan (100% load), Lambton and Nanticoke.
    They are now out looking for fuel suppliers via an RfP (wood pellets, wheat stalks, corn husks etc.). This looks like it’s not too far off in the future. He says it won’t be all 4000MW, but perhaps a good chunk.
    The government directive on ending coal (in 2014) just says that they should stop using coal as a fuel, not close the facilities.

    Also, some further info here – it is no secret.

    I like the idea of biomass but of course supply of fuel (and transportation of this) will be the biggest issue and consequently the cost is a concern as well.
    Thanks for the corrections Davy. Nice to hear about something other than wind energy for a change.

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