For a guy challenging the status quo in the oil and gas business Art Berman is pretty low key.
The Sugar Land-based consultant made headlines a few weeks ago when the Associated Press ran an item about a talk he gave at a Denver “Peak Oil” conference, where he repeated what he’s said in the past: he has doubts that natural gas production from shale formations will be as prolific as just about everyone else says.
In a phone interview I did with him a few weeks ago he came across as very calm, methodical and not in the least preachy. In a nutshell, data he has compiled from existing wells in the relatively mature Barnett shale shows that a lot fewer wells will be economic because production drops off so quickly after huge initial spikes. He believes industry analysts are too optimistic in their projections because they use well decline curve models that don’t reflect reality.
Analysts have calmly refuted his claims (which he’s published in his blog). And the number of companies putting really big money behind shale gas is hardly on the decline. But he’s sticking by his guns.
This morning Berman made a post on his blog claiming an executive from Houston-based Petrohawk Energy pressured the editors at World Oil Magazine to kill his monthly column. He’s not a regular employee at the magazine but he’s done a monthly column for a while now which is typically a wrap-up of exploration news items from around the U.S. and the world.
I ran into a World Oil editor at a conference this morning and he assured me that the end of Berman’s column was not due to his view on shale (and we’ll get you more details later).
The response from Petrohawk spokeswoman Joan Dunlap on the allegations:
“It is doubtful that his termination was a direct result of comments made by Petrohawk. We suspect it was more likely a result of Berman’s history of inconsistent data gathering and poorly supported opinions.”
(Note: Berman never said he was terminated and he wasn’t an employee of World Oil. It’s just that his column was ended.)