What are the advantages and disadvantages of shale gas?

The shale gas is a fossil fuel, so shale gas has all the advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels. Can you name them?

Disadvantages- Their supply is limited, because they are non-renewable. The burning of fossil fuels causes pollution. The price to consumers continues to rise as the less accessible or more costly to produce resources are produced.

Advantages - Fossil fuels are a dependable source. No other source of energy can provide the same power our cars and power plants. Frequently, fossil fuels provide the most economical source of power.

Natural gas is considered by many to be a cleaner burning fuel than oil and coal as it emits less carbon dioxide when burned. (see link).

Now, shale gas is gas that is produced from shale formations. These formations have low flow capacity, so the rock must be broken (fractured) before gas can flow. Generally water is pumped into the wells at high rates to open spaces (fractures) in the rock. Sand or ceramic proppant is used to keep the fractures open.

The advantage to shale gas are numerous. It provides long term employment to the US and other countries. The US gas reserves are in decline, and shale gas is a new source that has great potential. As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article, new sources of fossil fuels in the US could help to keep the OPEC countries from creating a monopoly on fuel prices.

Now, some disadvantages. Large quantities of water are pumped in. This can reduce the drinking water supply. It is possible the fracturing fluids which frequently contain chemicals will be accidently contaminate natural aquifers that supply drinking water. Small towns are impacted when large fracture trucks go down roads not built to withstand their weight. (see link).

The impact on the environment is controversial. If natural gas is burned instead of coal, then there can be less harm to the environment. Methane is more harmful than carbon dioxide to global warming, but methane is not released to the atmosphere, only the end products of combustion.

Shale gas wells do not have high rates of production. Many wells have to be drilled to be able to fully exploit a shale gas play. This means the contribution of shale gas is to the annual fossil fuel consumption is likely to be small for many years to come. For opponents, this is good news, and for advocates, bad news.

I have included a number of links, because one link does not give the complete picture.