By: Mike Mueller
This week Robert Bryce of the New York Daily News sounded off in favor of frac’ing, sort of.
Bryce laid out the clear several of the benefits the controversial practice has had on the U.S. economy: lower gas prices, job creation in the tens of thousands and increased tax revenue to states that do frac.
Bryce’s sticking point, and unfortunately I have to agree he’s dead on, is good old fashioned PR-or lack thereof. Opponents of frac’ing are leading the debate because they carry the torch of an ages old adage. That Big Oil is evil and thus, no matter how definitive the facts are, frac’ing surely must be evil, water-polluting procedure, and that’s that.
In the piece, Bryce presented excellent statistics like; that the U.S. consumes about 24 trillion cubic feet of gas per year. From 2005 to 2008, the years just before the shale revolution began, U.S. natural-gas prices averaged about $7 per million Btu. On Friday afternoon, the spot price for natural gas was about $2.37. If we assume the current price is $4 below what prevailed in the years prior to the shale revolution, low-cost natural gas is now saving American consumers about $263 million per day.
And despite these excellent figures, and the fact that if frac’ing were as dangerous as opponents claim it we’d have hundreds of examples of groundwater contamination (instead of a handful), the naysayers are clearly inching ahead.
I am “Big Oil”. I work for a company that thrives on the microseismic technology behind frac’ing and is key to making it safe. And I am loathe to agree with Bryce, but I do. Until we step up as an industry and combine forces to create fact-based, consistent messaging, the public (and politicians) will not believe us because they don’t understand us.
In the wake of President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline progress last week, one message should be abundantly clear: the time is NOW.