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Shale Gas Neo-Malthusianism: Poor Journalism at the 'Newspaper of Record'

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#m_lynch">Michael Lynch</a> -- June 28, 2011

“I’m sorry for you—coming to Texas [in 1915] to look for oil. Don’t you know there is no oil in Texas?!”

Wallace Pratt (oil and gas geologist), quoted in “Oil Finding—the Way it Was,” Petroleum 2000 Issue, Oil & Gas Journal, August 1977, p. 144.

The New York Times has published two amazing front-page articles on shale gas (here and here), which raise a number of issues about the prospects for the resource, suggesting that the reserves and profitability are vastly overstated. A careful reading of the articles, however, suggests that it is more smoke than fire.

Two specific issues raised in the article are important: the profitability of shale gas wells and their long-term production profiles. Many ancillary issues are also raised but can be dispensed with.…