The development of techniques which allow the extraction of gas from some carboniferous rocks known as shale has completely transformed the world’s natural gas market. The gas price has fallen and in one case in the US, a terminal that was built to import gas is now being used to export it.
All over the world, energy companies are rushing to secure licences to prospect for suitable shale which, if successful, will enable them to profit from this new energy source. The rush has reached Ireland and in February, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources gave Enegi Oil an option over 495-square kilometres in the Clare Basin. an area which covers all of Clare and part of Kerry and Limerick. The company believes there is shale gas similar to that found in Newfoundland as both areas were joined together hundreds of millions of years ago. Chief executive Alan Minty said they were investing up to €650,000 in the initial exploration. He said they would apply for exploration licences should the work programme identify prospective targets.
If the exploration is successful, serious issues will emerge. Brian Davey analyses these in a major article here, which also gives sources of further information. Our second article was published by a US firm of investment advisers, ,on April 18th. It does not shy away from mentioning the environmental problems but dodges any ethical issues by saying “it is not important to decide whether or not fracking is damaging to people and the environment. The Senate committee and the EPA are working on that (albeit through numerous politicians and lobbyists – good luck to them). What the investor needs to do is the same as always: separate the wheat from the chaff. “ In other words invest in the best companies. It’s well worth reading and can be found here (scroll down the page a little to find it).