Energy Expert Sees Future In Shale Deposits

He Includes Inglewood Oil Field


November 21, 2013

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

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.


Reader Comments

EdmundBurke writes:

We know from fracking all over the country that it causes earthquakes, pollutes ground water and sickens residents with cancer and respiratory diseases. In PA, where they have fracked for over 10 yrs, you cannot get a mortgage or homeowners insurance on a home within 5 miles of a fracking well. Property values? Just as insidious is the gross overexaggeration of how long the shale oil will last--it will be 10-20 years, max. The bigger the lie the easier it is to get people to buy into it.

Yankee writes:

Who is this guy? Why interview for something he clearly doesn't know about either in general geology /petroleum fields. He doesn't know that most of the Inglewood is okay for conventional while the area beneath Culver City to PdR and BevHills is okay for longer more classic fracking not for conventional wells. He also doesn't know much about leasing subsurface properties and what is going on under the get someone that does know....

mweiner writes:

It really does not require an expert to enlighten the public about the potential for economic advantage associated with drilling shale deposits for gas and oil. Clearly, if there was not a large financial gain to be had, oil companies would not be engaging in this activity. We need experts to weigh in on issues of importance to our community: health, safety, earthquake risk, toxic chemical pollution, etc. We also need expert advice about the effects on climate with release of addional carbon.

MIttyc writes:

US natural gas to replace oil and coal? Here are the numbers: According to the latest 2013 EIA estimates , the US has 983 trillion cft of all natural gas ( 318 conventional + 665 shale). Total US annual energy consumption in all forms is 81 quadrillion BTU, the gas equivalent of which is 81 trillion cft. So, if the US were to go all gas only, it will have 983/81 = 12.1 years of energy life only. And then what? The US and the rest of the world is doomed if it is to rely on fossil only.


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