‘Environmental benefits of shale has been underestimated’

iStock_000048090148_Double fracking

The environmental benefits of shale gas have been underestimated.

That’s according to a new report which states previous estimates of methane leakage in shale gas production have been “seriously overestimated”.

The main component of natural gas is methane which has high greenhouse gas potential. Opponents of shale gas production argue if 1% of gas leaks the advantage of natural gas compared to coal would be negated, it claims.

However the report claims during a 100-year time span “an implausible 12% of the produced natural gas used today would have to leak in order to negate an advantage over coal”.

It adds “the best current estimates for the average leakage across the whole supply chain are below 3%” – this amount would “produce less than half the warming of coal averaged over the 100 years following emissions”.

It goes on to say half of this 100-year average comes almost entirely from the CO2 produced from burned methane and “not from the leaked methane itself”.

The report by the Centre for Policy Studies claims an additional reason to produce electric power from natural gas is because “the legacy advantage of natural gas is enormous”. After 100 years “only 0.03% of leaked gas remains in the atmosphere compared to 36% for remnant Carbon Dioxide”, it adds.

Last month the Shale Gas Task Force said the energy source could be a “useful transition” to a low carbon future.