Energy Expert Sees Future In Shale Deposits
He Includes Inglewood Oil Field
By Lynne Bronstein
Although the Inglewood Oil Field near Culver City continues to be a controversial site because of the issue of hydraulic fracturing used in oil and gas extraction, there is what could be seen as a positive side to the oil field's resources.
This is according to the view of James Clad, current energy consultant and former assistant secretary of defense for Asia, who recently appeared in Beverly Hills to lecture the World Affairs Council on "The World Politics of a Changing Energy Landscape."
Clad's position is that extraction of natural gas and liquid natural gas (LNG) from shale deposits would have economic and political benefits for the United States.
The Observer caught up with Clad following his address and talked with him about shale, oil and gas extractions, and how Culver City's nearby oil field fits into the picture.
Observer: What was the gist of your address to the World Affairs Council?
James Clad: The U.S. is moving to be a self-sufficient country in [the production of] oil and gas, partially helped by the exploitation of shale resources, and will probably in the next eight years become a significant exporter of LNG.
Observer: Does this involve hydraulic fracturing?
Clad: In part. Hydraulic fracturing is known to be something that's very water-intensive. What I spoke about today was the change in technology, as I understand it, is being able to fracture the rock using different technologies that don't necessarily involve water.
Observer: What other technologies are there?
Clad: They're very new and recent but they use very fine particulate matter and they also use closed cycle systems so they're not leaving something behind. There's no question that the water demands of hydraulic fracturing now in 2013 are intense but the technology seems to be going in the other direction-toward less use of water.
Observer: Culver City is near the Inglewood Oil Field where there are active wells and there is a lot of concern among the residents about hydraulic fracturing–the possible dangers-earthquake faults etc. Is this technology safer?
Clad: I think it's an open book. I was very clear with the audience [at the WAC talk] that I'm not a geologist or a drilling engineer or even a petroleum economist. My principle source of interest is looking at what this abundance of oil and gas from shale will mean to our economic and political position in the world if it continues the same way. I was very clear in saying that there may be particular areas and districts where opposition would emerge but I generally and privately welcome supervisory interest by the community because that's the way to make sure people do the best they can to reduce the impact.
Observer: How much do you know about the Inglewood Oil Field and what is available there?
Clad: I've read about it on the East Coast but I admit I'm not a petroleum engineer. I know it excites a lot of interest and passion and it is in an obviously seismically active area but I don't know enough about it to take a position.
Observer: How would this benefit Culver City?
Clad: I think that, for Culver City, the whole Inglewood area- - as a child I grew up in Pasadena so I have an instinct for the area but no firm knowledge-what is interesting is that with shale, it's that shale deposits, shale resources, every time somebody looks there seems to be more of it, not less and it wouldn't surprise me if there is a lot of it. Whether it is something that people want to exploit – that's for a lot of people in play to decide. I can't say what should or shouldn't be done. I was looking at what major exportation of (LNG) would do for our political and economic position.
We're all playing catch-up with this shale resource. Up to 2006 the best brains in the energy industry were saying "We're going to have to import all of this LNG because we're running out of natural gas." That was only six years ago. Now there's been a complete change--terminals they were building for the import, the owners want to reengineer and change to export. So there's a policy change between the people who want to export and the people who want to keep importing. Keep the resource in the country; keep the prices down. Natural gas is a fuel and a feed stock-used for fertilizer and for making other things.
Observer: Many buses are fueled by natural gas. [Culver City's buses are fueled by compressed natural gas.]
Clad: I would be very happy to see a world in which transport fleets move over to LNG and energy moves to LNG. Between now and 2015-which is only two and a half years away-27 gigawatts of installed tower generating capacity is going to be retired. 127 coal powered plants are to be closed down. The impact of natural gas is not perfect-but in a world where we're thinking of carbon impact, natural gas has got to be a better fuel than coal.