Natural Gas and Nagging Earthquake Fears

More evidence emerges from The Netherlands that natural gas extraction is contributing to increases in tremors around an Exxon Mobil/Shell joint venture. What to do?

Jan 26, 2014 at 7:32AM

News from The Netherlands this week poses another challenge to the natural gas industry. The Dutch government is cutting production from Western Europe's biggest gas field, operated by an ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) / Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) joint venture, by a quarter over the next three years.

Natural gas is a hero or a villain, depending on whom you ask. For some, it provides a bridge to a new energy future of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased energy independence. For others, it's a distraction from truly clean energy sources that also poses unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. One particular concern is called "induced seismicity."

Stop rockin' my world ...
Induced seismicity -- sometimes more specifically referred to as human-induced seismicity -- is the phenomenon by which some human activity increases the incidence or severity of tremors and earthquakes in the surrounding region. Lately, we're seeing increased evidence that induced seismicity might be more prevalent than we initially realized. This week, we're learning that natural gas extraction in Western Europe's largest gas field, near the Dutch town of Groningen, has increased regional seismicity over the past 25 years.

To be clear, it's not fracking per se that seems to create the problem. It's underground injection, which is often used to dispose of wastewater after the fracking process is complete.

This isn't some fringe concept. Extractive companies are aware of the issue. ExxonMobil and Shell study it closely and have dedicated risk-management strategies. Both companies cooperated in the study that produced the Dutch results, as well they should. This is one of those areas where a single big event could turn the public completely against fracking, and maybe even natural gas in general. Getting out ahead of induced seismicity is just good business.

Shell is one of the founding members of a new initiative to improve the sustainability of shale development. Tackling the risk head-on in this way is crucial to preserving a future for natural gas. Watch the following video to learn more.

More on the natural gas story
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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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