Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shell and PetroChina Bid for Australian Coal-Seam Gas Reserves.

Arrow Energy, the owner of the biggest reserves of gas trapped in seams of Australian coal, has been offered £2 billion by Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina. The gas, principally methane, is a cleaner fuel than either coal or oil and has a much higher calorific output per unit mass at 57 GJ/tonne, compared with around 29 GJ/tonne for anthracitic coal and 42 GJ/tonne for oil. Shares for Arrow are up by around 50% on the Sydney Stock Exchange, promoted by the expectation of a higher bid from the two giants.

Arrow Energy also owns the Fisherman's Landing liquefied natural gas project in Queensland, one of ten of its type in Australia, and the Territorial government has predicted around 50 billion Australian Dollars in investment as a global competition ensues among companies keen to export the fuel to growing markets in Asia.

China has announced its intention to increase the use of gas as a fuel three-fold to provide around 10% of its total energy by 2020, as part of an aim to curb its use of coal. PetroChina is the greatest producer of oil and gas in China, and its CEO has said that it will make efforts to increase its holdings of liquid natural gas, including that derived from gas physically trapped in coal.

A Shanghai-based energy analyst, Shi Yan is quoted as saying: "It appears that this bid is in its early stages, but it's part of China's efforts to sure supply." And this is true of all sources of energy, in nations across the world.

Related Reading.
"Shell and PetroChina swoop on Arrow Energy for its gas reserves."


Mark said...


This is a little off topic but I just watched a National Geographic special called Aftermath, World Without Oil. It is one of those what if type of shows that NatGeo plays every now and then, like Aftermath, When the World Stops Spinning or Aftermath Population Zero.

Though the premise of the planet immediately running out of oil is a bit far fetched the program did a good job in showing just how dependent we are with oil. Needless to say life as we know it would be pretty grim for several decades or more until some alternatives fuel sources take hold.

You can find out more about this program by clicking on the link below.

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi mark,

just took a look at the programme. It's good, and gives some useful facts. You are right, of course, that the world isn't going to run out of oil overnight. We will be producing oil for decades but not at present levels and it will be expensive.

Indeed, the transition to the world without oil will be extremely tough, and I am not convinced that alternative fuel sources can be found in sufficient quantity to simply substitute oil-based fuel by them, so to maintain the status quo of transportation.

So, that's the problem, how do we keep everything moving around? I suspect the answer is we don't, and the real transition is to a more localised, lower energy demanding existence.

I certainly don't want to go back to the Middle Ages or step into a Thomas Hardy novel, because as he described it, life was extremely harsh even in those days when Britain had plenty of coal, but largely local in terms of providing food etc.

Whatever is to be the outcome, it must involve an energy descent strategy, since the default option is likely to be chaos and anarchy.



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