The days of worrying about imminent decline of crude petroleum production (known as “peak oil”) and a consequent energy crisis can be pushed well into the future, an expert from The Ohio State University suggested.
“Forget about peak oil,” Jeff Daniels said Thursday during a meeting of the Guernsey County Energy Coalition at the Southgate Hotel.
The development of horizontal drilling technology, as well as the use of hydraulic fracturing, will open the United States and the world to crude oil reserves previously untouchable.
As a result, the United States will be energy independent by 2035, Daniels said.
Although the new method of drilling that enables energy companies to tap into the fossil fuel reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations here in eastern Ohio is costly, that expense is more than justified by the crude oil recovery rate, Daniels said.
“Horizontal drilling has a recovery rate three to four times greater than [conventional] drilling,” he said.
The conventional method of vertical, drilled wells only captured 15 to 20 percent of the oil present, leaving about 80 percent of the reserve behind.
“Shale energy is just the beginning,” Daniels said. “We will be using horizontal drilling in the [traditional] fields.”
The current boom with regard to the shale promise is “not a geology play,” he said. “It’s a technology play.”
Horizontal drilling is the biggest “game changer” to come along in petroleum engineering in the course of Daniels’ 50-year career in geology, he said.
Despite Daniels’ belief there is yet an abundant supply of petroleum worldwide, he espoused a balanced approach to satisfying our energy needs. Nuclear and renewable energy sources must be developed and deployed in addition to our continued use of fossil fuels, he said.
The meeting Thursday was the 18th gathering of the Guernsey County Energy Coalition, said Jo Sexton, president of the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce. The next meeting will be Jan. 3.
She suggested members go online to check out how oil drilling rigs work.
“The more we understand about what is going on, the better,” she said.