Why is there so much talk about shale gas? Praised by some, rejected by others, shale gas raises the issue of energy, technology, development, progress, and therefore science.
Here is in order:
– a definition of shale gas,
– the interest of shale gas,
– the problem posed by shale gas
– the benefits of shale gas
– summary of the situation in France for shale gas
– a reflection on shale gas: quotes and ideas
Summary of the news around shale gas, explanation of the dangers and benefits of shale gas, can science allow itself anything?
Definition of shale gas
Rocks, over time, trap gases.
The rocks we are interested in are sales (layered aspect).
The gas that interests us is a natural gas, composed of methane.
When this natural gas is trapped by shale rocks, it is called shale gas.
Interest of shale gas
The shale gas, exploited, is an important source of energy.
Hence its interest, at a time when hydrocarbons (oil), are increasingly expensive, increasingly rare.
Especially the United States and Canada have understood this and have considerably increased their production from shale gas.
Europe remains divided and hesitant, because shale gas also poses problems.
The problem with shale gas: extraction
The extraction of shale gas is the problem.
Among the extraction techniques, the most used is hydrofracking.
Hydrofracking involves combining water, sand and numerous chemicals to fracture the rock.
These chemicals would be disastrous for the environment:
—risks for the chemicals to contaminate the water (if the pipes deteriorate)
—need for large quantities of water (~15.000m3 per well)
—emission of greenhouse gases (methane in particular)
—risk of earthquake
—disruption of the ecosystem and water tables
The advantages of shale gas:
- Energetic: Shale gas is present in huge quantities all over the planet: especially in China, North America and Europe.
- Financial: The exploitation of shale gas creates many jobs
- Autonomy: The country produces its own energy, which can be considered more moral, rather than exploiting the resources of developing countries.
- Environmental: This is the whole debate. Some believe that the exploitation of shale gas is ultimately less harmful to the environment than coal or oil.
Shale Gas: Summary of the Situation in France
In March 2010, the Minister of Ecology Jean-Louis Borloo authorized exploration permits, particularly in the southeast of France. It is only to explore, to assess the potential of the underground, not to exploit. However, exploration poses a “why not”?
In 2011, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet finally has these exploration permits suspended. The Parliament adopted on June 30 of the same year a law prohibiting the use of hydraulic fracturing, which does not prohibit exploration or exploitation in general.
In 2012, François Hollande reaffirmed that the hydrofracking technique would remain prohibited for the duration of his mandate.
Arnaud Montebourg, Minister of Productive Recovery, is nevertheless interested in shale gas: “We do not accept hydraulic fracturing but we are working to imagine a new generation of clean technologies that would allow extraction without damaging.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that France has 5,100 billion m3 of exploitable shale gas, which represents 90 years of current gas consumption.
In the decision of the Constitutional Council of October 11, 2013, after a Priority Question of Constitutionality issued by the Texas company Schuepbach, is confirmed Theban on the exploitation of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing.
In November 2013, theAcademy of Sciences speaks of “manageable risks” regarding shale gas: the consequences need to be studied further.
Thinking about shale gas: some quotes and thoughts
“René Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637
” Science without conscience is the ruin of the soul of François Rabelais, Pantagruel VIII. 1532
“One does not command nature except by obeying it” Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620
“All technical progress should be balanced by a kind of inner conquest, directed towards an ever-greater mastery of oneself Gabriel Marcel
“A world where techniques triumph is a world given over to desire and fear; for there is no technique that is not in the service of a certain desire or a certain fear Gabriel Marcel, Being and Having (1918–1933).
“As long as we represent technique as an instrument, we remain caught up in the will to master it.” Martin Heidegger
We would like to publish the rest of the quote from René Descartes, which is particularly enriching for the question and Sciences Po, although it is a bit long:
“[…]And thus make ourselves as masters and possessors of nature. This is not only to be desired for the invention of an infinite number of artifices, which would enable us to enjoy, without any difficulty, the fruits of the earth and all the comforts found therein, but also mainly for the preservation of health, which is undoubtedly the first good and the foundation of all the other goods of this life, René Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637.
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