Fracking watch: Saudi Arabia figures out what CA hasn’t

April 30, 2013

By Chris Reed

On Monday, an Assembly committee took up three bills intended to ban or limit fracking in California. All three passed. Incredibly and pathetically, the first coverage of this development — by the Ventura County Star’s Timm Herdt — did not note that the Obama administration considers fracking just another heavy industry, not the devil incarnate.

But this is the norm. And this is why that starting last Saturday, every morning I’ve been blogging about the nations around the world that are embracing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on economic competitiveness grounds. So far I’ve covered Germany, China and Russia. Today I’m writing about the nation that was was supplanted last year by the U.S. as the world leader in oil production because of fracking. My point: The fracking/brown energy revolution is coming, regardless of what greens in Santa Monica, Ventura County and Marin County think, and that California can either join in the party or get left behind.


Fracking sanity chapter No. 4: Saudi Arabia

What does the world look like from Riyadh, as opposed to Sacramento? Like this:

“After much resistance and a mix of disdain and resentfulness, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries suddenly decided to embrace fracking … That means, of course, that it’s really Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest member and frequent dissenter among the organization’s ranks, that has done the embracing. Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters in Hong Kong the kingdom intends to remain an energy powerhouse, partly by adopting new technology.

“Naimi estimated Saudi Arabia has roughly 600 trillion cubic feet of unconventional shale gas. ‘The potential is very huge and we plan to exploit it,’ he told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

“The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration says Saudi Arabia’s proven natural-gas reserves are 288 trillion cubic feet as of the end of 2012. That’s the fifth largest behind Russia, Iran, Qatar and the U.S., the EIA said.”

That’s from a March article on

Who’s figured out fracking has changed world and who hasn’t

If one reads the professional journals on energy exploration, as opposed to newspapers and magazines with an incredibly superficial familiarity with the issue, you quickly notice the matter-of-fact acceptance of the idea that the world is way different than it was a decade ago, and it’s because of unconventional strategies pioneered by U.S. firms. Here’s a technical journal, for example, that provides an account of how the Saudis are adapting hydraulic fracturing to the conditions in their drilling areas.

If only the California media could sever its allegiance to the reflexive green agenda and stick to the facts. Fact 1: The Obama administration says it’s just another heavy industry. Fact 2: The rest of the world isn’t following California’s lead. AB 1301, which passed at the committee level Monday, might as well be titled “The California Manufacturing Ban Act of 2013.” Energy costs are crucial to manufacturing and to the economy in general.

But then why should state reporters show an appreciation for Econ 101? That would get them dirty looks at the water cooler and in the hallways of the Capitol.

Fracking watch

No. 1: Germany

No. 2: China

No. 3: Russia


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  1. Tom Tanton
    Tom Tanton 30 April, 2013, 08:27

    New reports by both EPA and State of PA provide further proof of safety of the technology. When is our Legislature going to require witnesses in Leg hearing to testify under oath and penalty of perjury?

    Reply this comment
  2. us citizen
    us citizen 30 April, 2013, 08:46

    They wont……..they want us to be beholden to foreign countries so they can hold us hostage.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rob McMillin
    Rob McMillin 10 May, 2013, 18:12

    I had to wipe my eyes when I saw the alleged news that the US surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. That may be on a monthly basis, but it is far from true on an annual basis. Saudi Arabia produces 11.1M barrels annually where the US produces 10.1M. Monthly statistics are much more volatile.

    There is a lot of triumphalism about fracking and reserve growth, but it needs to be remembered that these reservoirs are much smaller than conventional plays, meaning they deplete much faster. It means a constant treadmill, and assumes future plays will be as economic as past ones. That is not a terribly safe bet, especially given the history of fracking exploration in locales such as Poland. Even California would not necessarily yield good commercial results, even if all the current and proposed restrictions were lifted or not enacted into law. A Sanford C. Bernstein study concluded that fracking would at best keep California’s oil production declines at bay, but would be unlikely to result in a Bakken-style oil boom.

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