The CCEE at ADA University hosted a round-table discussion with R. Kirk Sherr, President of Clearview Strategy Group

On June 19 2014, the Caspian Center for Energy and Environment at ADA University hosted a round-table discussion with R.Kirk Sherr, President of Clearview Strategy Group, LLC. Clearview is a Washington D.C.-based international energy strategy and policy consultancy. Mr. Sherr brought extensive experience in energy project development and infrastructure operations to the table, including in pipelines, power plants, gas distribution, seismic operations and upstream development. He is also extremely knowledgeable about the development of US shale gas, currently a key topic in global energy security discussions.

The seminar, entitled “U.S. Shale Gas: International Developments and Impact on Azerbaijan” was organized as part of CCEE’s Baku Energy Seminar series. Mr. Sherr opened the seminar by explaining the industrial developments in horizontal drilling, which has enabled the large-scale exports of shale gas. He then presented the benefits for the US. According to Mr. Sherr, most US states have shale gas reserves, resources which will provide a major boost to their federal budgets in the coming decades. He pointed out that IHS Inc. estimates that unconventional oil and gas could generate 23 billion USD in state and local tax revenue in 2015, a total of 617 billion USD between 2012 and 2035. 

Mr. Sherr also discussed the environmental issues and research activities around shale gas development. He emphasized that the majority of companies involved in shale gas development are cognizant of the potential environmental impact. Given the large research programs underway at oil companies, universities and US government research facilities, moreover, this issue is always on the agenda. 

In November 2013, the governors of twelve States signed an open letter of support to leave Hydraulic Fracturing oversight under the purview of state commissions. The letter announced the ‘States First’ initiative to ensure state control of oil and gas development. In this regard, Mr. Sherr highlighted the importance of the US Hydraulic Fracturing Ecosystem, which includes universities, think tanks, NGOs and other institutions, whose cooperation is crucial to the research dimension of the development of shale gas, and the generation of policy recommendations via a multi-stakeholder approach. 

On the international development of shale gas, Mr. Sherr said that the technological superiority of the US is essential to its shale gas industry. Thus while China and Russia have also significant shale gas potential, they face some major obstacles. In the case of China, complicating factors for development include: the location of reserves in arid areas; the country’s ongoing water crisis, problematic geology, the reluctance of firms to operate in China due to intellectual property concerns; and other factors. 

The speaker also engaged with the audience on the impact of shale gas developments on Azerbaijan’s energy strategy. The event was followed by a Q&A session during which participants exchanged their thoughts on political and energy developments in the region, and addressed questions to the speaker.