back to article Energy crisis over - for 250 years?

The "Energy Crisis" is over, according to some analyses, with new gas discoveries securing supplies for as much as 250 years. Conventional gas reserves peaked in 1970, which made the "dash for gas" in the late 1980s, with gas replacing oil and coal for power generation, seem particularly short-sighted at the time. The UK led …


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  1. Mark C Casey


    Gasland is a good watch on the whole fracking thing, gets a bit overly artsy at times though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great watch. Like all fiction.

      Gasland is a pile of fracking rubbish.

    2. Tzael

      Re: Gasland

      Gasland gives ample reason to prevent fracking from taking place, especially in the UK which is so small compared to the USA. The evidence against fracking existed prior to the publication of the Gasland documentary, thankfully the documentary has helped spread awareness of the irreversible damage that occurs through application of that process.

      I'm not comfortable with the idea of our energy reserves being 'secure' for the next 250 years, gives the impression of being able to sit on our arses and ignore the need for cleaner energy supplies in the meanwhile.

      1. Code Monkey


        "gives the impression of being able to sit on our arses and ignore the need for cleaner energy supplies in the meanwhile." True but I'd rather that than blackouts/energy wars*

        * well energy wars in addition to those we're already fighting

      2. tony2heads


        I am in the Karoo in South Africa at the moment. Locals are seriously worried about fracking

        by-products polluting the crucial water table (it is semi-desert), and Shell has a serious reputation

        problem in all Africa (see Nigeria).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I heard this several years ago.

    From my geology student friends.

    They told me how global warming was all bollocks. I told them how to un-fuck their computers.

    I think I may have got the raw deal.

    1. rciafardone

      Global Warming IS bollocks...

      Why do you thing they have started to call it "climate change", sooner or later they will have to come clean and say the planet is not actually warming up, but will still say that the climatic variations are being affected by human activity...

  3. crz

    All well and good but,

    fracking produces toxic and radioactive waste. If the heavy metals and radioactive elements are properly cleaned up, and the carbon from burning the gas is sequestered it might still be a better option than hydro/solar/wind. Might.

  4. Naughtyhorse

    excellent news... un-metred heating

    feeling a bit chilly, just turn on a tap. :-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    250 years at steady consumption.

    But consumption isn't steady. It's rising. And that's before noticing that there's four or five billion people looking to drastically up their daily energy consumption as soon as they can afford it and/or it becomes available to them. And their success will mean yet more people on the planet, wanting in on it too. Refusing them that "right", meaning to them being refused entrance to the developed countries club, is not an option. It'll mean war.

    So I sit here in my comfy room commentarding away, reflecting that even the measly two thousand years of not-really western civilisation is but a drop in the ages of humans having been around. Those gas reserves, like the oil reserves, took a ridiculous multiple of even that to form. And it'll be gone in what, fifty, maybe a hundred years? Provided our tech base lasts that long, of course. But assuming that, it still seems a poor show to just use it all up in that short a time period. Can we please get a move on with finding better ways to power our 'leccy habit?

    Like what? Like I don't really care what. We need options. So let's find more options. Not through silly solar and wind subsidies. That's just for show, for the fuzzy warm feeling of being all environmental, baby. Through long-term investment in research. We've got fifty years before we need to start to scramble. Surely we can figure out a thing or two in that time.

    1. Mark 65

      Ah but...

      I don't plan on living for 250 years, so just like the baby boomers didn't give a toss when they stole everyone's financial future with their tax burden I don't give a toss either as you'd hope that it would be enough time for science to come up with something. We can all waste our time worrying about the future we won't be here for but I'd rather live in the present thanks.

      1. Richard 81

        Ours is the pick up the bill generation

        It seems ours is the pick up the bill generation. The baby boomers in the political and financier classes tell use to tighten our belts to pay for their excesses, and we're told we're not allowed to palm it off to future generations as they did. We're like a middle child.

        1. The Other Steve


          An ugly, ginger, middle child. Now stop whining.

    2. rciafardone

      Well, is a good thing that in the end natural law is invinsible.

      no population can grow beyond the sustaining level of its environment. Sooner or later food production / water availability or space will reach its upper limit, and grow will stop. I don't know why people even worry about it. We cant destroy life on this planet, only particular samples of it, heck we probably cant even really destroy our species, only our civilization.

  6. Luther Blissett

    Royal Academy of Engineering

    I'm looking at this thinking how many oxymorons are there in there?

    Oh yes, nice to know about the gas too.

  7. Aaron Em

    'Technically recoverable'

    Isn't that the same as "barely feasible to recover and will result in an enormous filthy mess out of all proportion to the energy benefit we get from the gas"?

    1. Brian 6

      @Aaron Em


    2. Zolko Silver badge


      It's like petrol from tar sans: it takes 0.9 barrel of oil to recover 1. "technically feasible" but "thermodynamically nuts".

  8. karl 15

    UK Gas n Oil

    If the USA has so much gas, then Thatcher and the Tories should not have gave them the UK's gas n oil in the 70's/80's, the UK would have even more cheap energy left for it's people.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK Gas n Oil

      "it's people"

      SPOILER ALERT: No, that's Soylent Green you're thinking of.

      Sorry for the cheap shot!

  9. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    So that's alright then!

    GREAT - we'll have plenty of gas - but no drinking water ... and a few more earthquakes ...

  10. XMAN
    Thumb Down

    Cos they keep attacking

    Newsflash, read all about it! America says energy crisis is over after they successfully attack and rape several countries including Iraq and Libya.

    1. Richard 81


      Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was us and France. America only really joined in because we asked them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "But she (the report author) stressed that the totals were highly uncertain, and depended on price, technology and the accessibility of supplies."

    Also 250 years is at the top end of the estimates, and again, the author says ""Not all of this will be recoverable,"

    Pass me the kool-aid someone.

  12. Ole Juul


    It sounds simple, but in my area (and probably others) it looks like it will just use up or pollute our water. Take your pick. I personally like water because we use it to grow our food.

  13. John Sanders

    What energy crisis?

    There is never been such a thing, what we called energy crisis was in reality an "Energy-related Economic Crisis" or EREC.

    Yes I know I just made the term :-) I could not resist.

    There's never been a shortage of anything, any shortage has been an artificial one orchestrated by the OPEC to make the prices go higher.

  14. me n u



    Please be specific at the start of the article! I had to read the whole thing before I could finally conclude that you were talking about NATURAL gas, and not gasoline. It wasn't until you talked about trillion cubic feet that it became obvious.

    So, even if we have lots of natural gas, no infrastructure exists for automobiles to use it. Least not yet.

    1. There's a bee in my bot net

      That'll be one of them cultural things then I guess?

      I knew implicitly that the article was referring to gas as in the UK the gas we burn in our cookers and boilers is... well, a gas. The fuel we put in our cars is either petrol, diesel or LPG* and is a liquid 'Merkins referring to petrol as gas has always puzzled me as... well, it's a liquid. Granted 'step on the liquid' doesn't have the same ring to it, but 'Punch it Chewy' still works just as well...

      *I'll admit that LPG kind of muddies my argument as it is only a liquid under compression.

    2. lIsRT

      The clue is in the URL.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. LINCARD1000

      Gas =/= Petrol

      ...aka petroleum distillate. Being a UK-centric site it is natural to assume they are referring to natural gas as opposed to petrol. The term "gas" is very much a North American thing from what I can gather.

      Besides, petrol does not occur naturally, oil and gas do. You do not "drill for petrol" - it is distilled from crude.

      Kill me, I've become a pedant.

    5. Ole Juul


      I have a car that runs on both gas and gasoline. Propane and natural gas conversions are as easy as taking your car in to get a tank and modified carburettor. After that you will be able to fill up at one of the stations where they sell your fuel of choice. That's Canada, where do you live?

    6. Manas Straw

      Maharajah of Vijaywada - This is today's title

      In India we already run a lot of our cars and buses on LPG / CNG. The infrastructure for that is available, at least in our cities. Makes for much cleaner air as compared to petrol / diesel engines. And much cheaper than petrol.

      Oh! And you don't have to modify the engine to make it run on LPG / CNG.

    7. Anonymous Coward

      me n u - sorry your 100% wrong

      >So, even if we have lots of natural gas, no infrastructure exists for automobiles to use it. Least >not yet.

      Hate to rain on your parade pal but I've been running cars on CNG (Compressed Natural GAS) or LPG here in the UK for many years. There are currently 1400 or so stations that sell it too. how much MORE infrastructure you think we'll need?

      Cost to convert my 2010 Nissan...well under a thousand quid and I've already saved more than that in fuel savings. Filling up tonight at 74.9p a litre.

      You could even convert your fleet of Toyota Pious' how green would that be!

  15. DaWolf


    Gas alone can power everything, apparently. What's that skippy? Gas is only currently about 20% of current energy consumption, so gas being 250 years means that if we only burnt gas it would only last 50 years at current consumption rates? Or that in the last 50 years the worldwide energy consumption has nearly trebled, and this shows no sign of slowing?

    Say it ain't so, gas supplies have fixed the energy crisis for 250 years, the writer told us. He's a writer, so that makes it true.

  16. Eric Olson

    The only concern is the water table...

    Here in the good ol' US o A, two groups are getting in a tizzy over natural gas and fracking: Energy companies and NIMBYs. On the whole, both have valid points: The energy companies are engaging in "extract at any cost" behavior, even when going through aquifers and water tables, and the NIMBYs are a bit too NIMBYish. Sadly, our paralyzed governments are sitting this one out, so litigation is king.

    The latest we've heard is that even after being told not to for the last 10 years by the government, the energy companies continue to use diesel fuel as a solvent for many of their fracking operations. Now they are being sued, and trying to defend themselves with the ever-popular "We thought when you said not to use it, you meant that we could use it!" defense. Good times. Of course, it's only a problem with the fracking operations that aren't using the proper containment techniques, and nothing goes wrong. But a few water tables have been spoiled, or at least contaminated enough to require expensive filtration costs for the city or water authority.

    But, 85% of the time, that doesn't happen (number randomly pulled out of my backside), so instead of putting some decent regulations in place (no diesel or other difficult to clean out solvents without some kind of insurance that will cover clean-up/mitigation costs, prompt reporting of accidents and "incidents" to local authorities, and transparent bidding/contracting processes), the energy companies are going whole hog where they were let in (rural areas, poor areas, etc), while being completely blocked in other areas.

    The only other concern is that in some areas of the country that are a slight bit more geologically active than the area I call home, there has been increases in micro-earthquakes, usually detectable only by sensitive instruments or animals, with one or two real earthquakes (4ish on the scale) that might be attributed to fracking operations.

  17. IMVHO

    You can chalk-up Canada's reserve...

    as reserved for creating synthetic crude oil from the oil sands.

    On the other hand, I hear-tell that Japan has some used reactors on the auction block. Or perhaps the nice folks who buy part of Atomic Energy Canada can sell Canada a nice shiny reactor so that they stop burning ninety-nine dollar bills to make a one-hundred.

    China, in the meantime, has to do some work to displace the folks in Western China. Damn them and their existing on top of China's gas! If anyone can handle the task with ease, it's China. That they have such a huge reserve, and that a great use for natural gas is creating plasticy things, me thinks that it may lead to a China that doesn't look to the RotW for quite as much as it does today. Outbound only, ah-thankya.

    Mine is the one with the Mattel toys spilling from the pockets...

  18. famousringo

    "Technically recoverable"

    Is that code for, "So expensive to recover that nobody will bother tapping it until energy prices have doubled again"?

    If so, at some point the rising costs of digging deeper and deeper into the planet (hello Horizon Deepwater!) will make alternative energy sources look more and more attractive.

  19. ratfox

    In before...

    Somebody suggests doing away with gas no matter what since we will have to do it in 250 years anyway. Assuming we don't find more until then.

  20. Dysanovic

    "Energy Crisis" is far from over

    Car use in the developing world is increasing rapidly. To power those cars they are going to need oil. As we've probably already reached peak oil, petrol prices are going to go up. This will mean that the demand for LPG to power cars will increase and hence these new gas supplies will get used up faster than we expect.

    The energy crisis is far from over.

    As the writer of "250 years at steady consumption." says, the world seriously needs to start pump more money into research into non fossil based energy sources.

  21. The Lord's Little Helper


    Solar Energy World Wide / A End to Oil

    Solar Energy carports at our commuter Rail Stations, Schools, Homes and Businesses World wide will produce electricity and recharge Electric Vehicles. The Roofs all over the Globe are starting to be covered with Photovoltaic Panels Powered by the SUN Solar Energy. Many Cities and Industry around the Globe are starting to cover their parking lots carports and roofs with Solar Panels.

    Solar Energy and Electric Cars and Electric Vehicles that have solar covered skin or body and recharge from Solar, Wind and Renewable Energy. Will Soon be all over the Earth. Now if you wish to get into Solar or Electric Vehicles that market will grow like a weed or wild fire.

    You will make more in Solar Energy then any other Product and your Productivity will go up grow way more then you can ever want. Free Energy from GOD the SUN Solar Energy.

    Solar Energy has More then Doubled in the last Year.

    GOD Bless

    and May HE Guide you all.

    The Lord's Little Helper

    Paul Felix Schott


    many a Nation have fallen from taxing their people to Death. You want Prosperity and for thing to Flourish and grow lower all taxes. You want thriving, success, or good fortune for only a few, keep over taxing all.

    Solar, Wind and Renewable Energy Freedom from OIL. The Humanitarian thing to do. Solar Energy.

    1. James Hughes 1


      Have you changed your name? And gone a bit, well, GodSquad?

  22. ennui

    Cheap power all over the place, if you want it.

    Not only is there gas galore but the invention of Gravity Control wil make it possible to have electric power at 1 cent per kilowatt. The power Station costs a fraction of a Nuclear Plant and does not need fuel after the start-up.

    1. hplasm

      The gas has got into the woodwork-

      They're all coming out today!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So after the 80% gas price hike in the last couple of years, surely the consumer can expect a significant drop in the near future.

    Ahah, just kidding, they'll probably even find another excuse to increase prices further. "We had to fit a bullshitotron to every gas pipe, it.... errr... helps make things better... you know, making the gas more gassy and stuff... but it costs so we pass this cost on". Like petrol: crude goes up, we pay more, crude goes down, we don't pay less.

  24. Kiwiiano


    ....the atmosphere CO2 levels today are already higher than they have for 25 million years, when average temperatures were 3-5°C above today's & oceans were 20-35m higher. The oceans are also acidifying 10x faster than the mass marine extinction 55 million years ago.

    If we continue burning fossil fuels at our current rate we're staring down the muzzle of a 16°C average temperature rise.

    Would you want your grandchildren to live in a world like that? Or try to...

  25. John X Public

    Full of gas

    Seriously El Reg, when did being fashionably contrarian replace journalism? You tossers.

    1.) Claiming a 250 year supply of gas is a massive overstatement which borders on being an outright lie.

    2.) Recovering the gas has non-trivial implications in terms of cost and environmental consequences, which have basically been ignored by this 'journalist'. But I'm sure we can trust the energy companies to be careful and thorough rather than merely choosing the most expedient and profitable methods of extraction. Google Great Artesian Basin for a hint.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Near Blackpool

    Everything is a bit thicker.

  27. ShaggyDoggy


    My geology teacher told me about shale gas in 1964

  28. Richard Jukes


    "If we continue burning fossil fuels at our current rate we're staring down the muzzle of a 16°C average temperature rise."

    Yes please! Just think of all the CO2 and oil we could save if we actually had decent weather in the UK! Burning those fossil fuels WILL save the planet!

    PS. Global Warming is hyberbole bollocks.

  29. Pete 43


    that'll keep my Aga going for a while longer, burn baby burn!

  30. BraveOak

    CO2 and Climate Change

    As Kiwiiano points out this would have significant ramifications for climate. How much higher are CO2 levels going to get because of these additional reserves?

    Peak oil/gas/coal is the last ditch hope to prevent catastrophic climate change by forcing us to reduce carbon emissions even if we are unable to do so voluntarily. If humans had access to infinite fossil fuels we'd happily push CO2 levels ever higher and higher, wiping out most life on land and in the oceans in the process. We'd just not see it without hindsight, like the proverbial frog in a slowly heating pan of water.

    In many ways it would be good to just pretend this additional gas wasn't there and just act as if we were in such a situation.

  31. Chris Jakeman

    Underground Coal Gasification

    I'm putting some faith in ways to extract gas from all the coal we have - see project in the Firth of Forth. No more miners, just pumps and pipes to extract the gas. Need some carbon capture and storage though to counter the greenhouse effect.

  32. solaries

    250 Year Fantsay

    WE should be thinking of something better than oil drilling and fracking something better must be found or we will get more of the gulf spill mess

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