Have you heard about the adjustment to the estimates of how much natural gas is within the Marcellus Shale formation? Depending on what media outlet you listened to, the estimate just went WAY up or WAY down… but everyone’s using the same USGS report, so how could that be? Read on!
Any good dog knows that when you hear any news report involving statistics, you’d better perk up your ears and put your thinking caps on. This was made SO evident to me yesterday…
After my master got home from class, he asked me if I’d heard of the USGS report that sharply increased the estimated recoverable gas from a mere 2 trillion cubic feet to a whopping 84 trillion cubic feet.
I told him, “No, but I did read online in the Times that Ian Urbina reported about the Marcellus reserve’s estimate being slashed by 80% based on that same USGS report!”
So… what the heck is going on here? Let’s take ches a peake at the range of available data, and put an exxon the spot where the truth is… Below is a chart with four of the most influential Marcellus Shale estimates of the past 9 years.
Two are from the USGS. Notice that one is low and one is high.
One is from Terry Engelder, the man whose name we prefer not to mention because he publicly sold out academic integrity on NPR when describing his intentions for being on the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.
The other one is from the federal Energy Information Administration, note that it is the highest estimate…
So, those are the numbers… and it’s not contradictory to say that the USGS upped the ante AND also at the same time to say the most recent Marcellus Estimate is drastically lower than the 2008 estimate by Engelder and the 2011 estimate by the Energy Info Administration… it’s all just a question of how you want the headline to sound!
So, “Marcellus Estimate Increased” means that the author is pro-gas because they went back to 2002 to show an increase, stripping the context of the past 9 years, and totally ignoring the fact that the current USGS estimate is actually much lower than the 2008 & 2011 estimates.
And “Marcellus Estimate Decreased” means that the author is situating the facts within the relevant context: overall estimates of Marcellus yeild. They could be anti-gas, or they could simply be using the most recent comparisons rather than going back to 2002.
And, of course, my position? 100% Ada, 100% of the time!