Tuesday afternoon, a hydrogeologist from Clemson, Larry Murdoch, came to the UNC Chapel Hill campus to speak about hydraulic fracturing. The talk was organized by the UNC Institute for the Environment. The presentation was from the perspective that no one in the audience is an expert, and therefore was a good, thorough overview of the subject. He explained the process of hydraulic fracturing, the access to resources the technique provides that we had not had before, and the risks associated with the practice, particularly due to the volume of the materials.The Reese Felts Digital Newsroom at the UNC School of Journalism & Mass Communication published a summary of the talk:
Of great interest to me, is the estimate of the value of the natural gas contained in the Cumnock Formation – the main gas-rich formation within the Sanford sub-basin of the Triassic Basins. Murdoch calculated the value of natural gas in the formation based on known variables: the extent of the formation, the thickness of the formation, the geochemistry (data is from Reid and Milici, 2008), and the price of gas. The thickness, chemistry, and price each have a range of values, and using the ranges, and the average figure in those ranges, he had some useful numbers to consider in the discussion for North Carolina:
…this formation could hold between $0.2 billion and $5 billion of natural gas.
The calculation based on the averages for the total value of natural gas is $2.5 billion. After the presentation, I overheard an official at DENR report that their preliminary findings on the amount of gas in the shale are quite similar to the calculation Murdoch made, and added that this is a drop in the bucket compared to other gas-rich shale in the country. Note that these figures are the estimated value of the gas and do not include the costs associated with extraction.