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经济学人:美国工业和水力压裂技术 从日落到新的黎明

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Business

商业报道
American industry and fracking
美国工业和水力压裂技术
From sunset to new dawn
从日落到新的黎明
Capitalists, not just greens, are now questioning how significant the benefits of shale gas and oil will be for America. The new sceptics are missing the big picture
资本家们,而不仅仅是环保主义者们,现在在质疑页岩气和石油的利益对美国到底有怎样的意义。新的怀疑论者会看不到大局势
Fracking the midnight oil
水力压裂获取午夜石油

IN A new book, The Frackers, Gregory Zuckerman says of the late George Mitchell, a pioneer of the technique of hydraulic fracturing to tap unconventional reserves of oil and gas, that his impact eventually might even approach that of Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell.

在一本新书《水力压裂技术者》中,Gregory Zuckeman提及乔治·米切尔,运用水力压裂技术开发非传统石油和天然气储备的先锋,说道:他的影响最终甚至会达到亨利·福特和亚历山大·格雷汉姆·贝尔的高度。
Yet of late doubters have been making themselves heard too.
但是近期怀疑者们的意见也传了出来。
In October Peter Voser said that one of his biggest regrets as boss of Shell is the 24 billion his firm has invested in North America's shale beds.
十月份Peter Voser说作为壳牌石油的老板的最大的后悔之一是他的公司在北美的页岩层的240亿美元的投资。
This summer, the firm took a big writedown on this investment and slashed its production targets.
这个夏天,这个家公司减少了这项投资并且大幅度削减它的生产量。
Also last month BHP Billiton, which spent around 20 billion in 2011 in a bet on shale, said it would auction half of its oil and gas acreage in Texas and New Mexico.
上个月,2011年在页岩竞标中花了大概200亿美元的必和必拓,也会拍卖它在德克萨斯州和新墨西哥一半的有石油和天然气的土地。
It is not just the biggest energy companies that have turned sceptical on shale.
不仅仅是最大的能源公司对页岩有怀疑。
More than a dozen chief executives of smaller firms specialising in unconventional gas and oil have lost their jobs this year, as the firms' troubles have made them the targets of activist investors.
更多专注于非传统燃气和石油的较小公司的首席执行官今年也丢掉了工作,由于公司的困难使他们成为了激进的投资者的目标。
Adding to the general air of negativity, last month economists at Goldman Sachs put out a report arguing that even at its current cheap price, shale gas would provide only a modest boost to the American economy as a whole.
上个月高盛投资银行的一名经济学家提出一份报告辩称甚至在它目前的便宜价格,页岩气也仅仅为美国整体经济提供一个谦虚的繁荣,更是增添了整个的消极氛围。
It argued that the energy industry is itself a fairly small part of the economy and creates relatively few jobs; and it was doubtful about the pace of innovation in fracking, and the extent to which cheap energy will prompt other industries to invest more.
报告说能源产业自身是经济非常小的一个部分并且创造相对较少的工作;并且关于在水力压裂技术方面的革新步伐和在什么程度上廉价能源能够促进其他产业更多的投资是很值得怀疑的。
No one disputes that the new technology has transformed America's prospects as a hydrocarbons producer.
没有异议的是新技术把美国的前途转换成为一个氢碳制造者。
Gas output has risen by one-third since its most recent trough in 2005, and oil production has risen by 30% since its recent low in 2008.
自从2005年最近低谷期以来天然气的输入已经上升了三分之一,石油的生产也从2008年的低产量上升了30%。
This year America is expected to overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest producer of oil and gas combined.
今年美国预期超过俄罗斯和沙特阿拉伯成为世界上最大的石油和天然气联合生产者。
Jobs in energy have nearly doubled in America since 2005; since the end of the recent recession they have grown at a faster rate than in any other big industry.
自从2005年以来能源领域的就业已经上升了两倍;自从最近的萧条结束后他们比其他任何大型产业增长的速率都要快。
North Dakota, which sits on the huge Bakken oil and gas field, now boasts an unemployment rate of just 3%, the lowest among all the states.
位于巨大的贝肯石油天然气油田的北达科他州目前自夸失业率是所有州中最低的仅仅是3%。
Some pessimists worry about the speed at which shale-bed wells run dry.
一些悲观主义者们担心页岩层干涸的速度。
David Hughes, a geologist at the Post Carbon Institute, a greenish think-tank, says the combination of gas's low price and the heavy spending needed to keep it flowing casts doubt on whether the exploitable reserves of unconventional oil and gas are as big as they are fracked up to be.
David Hughes,属于绿色智囊团的the Post Carbon Institute的一个地质学家,说天然气的低价和需要保持它流动的沉重花销的结合使可开发利用的非传统石油和天然气的储备是否有他们通过水力压裂技术获取的那么多存疑。
Optimists argue that the fast decline rate has come as no surprise, and that the technology, and the industry's experience in deploying it efficiently, are improving fast enough to mitigate much of the effect of weak prices.
乐观者们辩论到无需惊讶迅速下降的生产率,并且高效运用技术和产业经验也在快速提高足以抵消掉不够占优势的价格的大部分影响。
Each stage of fracking is significantly evolving, says Rick Grafton, an oil and gas veteran at Grafton Asset Management, an investment firm.
水法压裂技术的每个阶段都是有意义的进化发展,Rick Grafton,一个投资公司G2的石油和天然气研究者,说道。
Yet he concedes that while gas prices remain at historic lows, it will remain unattractive to invest in wells that produce only gas—as opposed to ones that produce oil or a mix of gas and natural-gas liquidssuch as butane and propane.
但是他承认如果天然气价格继续保持历史低价,那投资那些仅仅生产天然气的油田会继续保持没有吸引力的。
As new gas has flooded onto the American market since 2008, its price has fallen by two-thirds to less than 4 per million British thermal units.
由于从2008年新天然气涌入美国市场以来,它的价格已经下跌了三分之二比每百万BTU4美元还要便宜。
The average price needed to cover all the costs over a well's life cycle is around 6, says Mr Grafton.
而需要用来支付所有覆盖矿井生产周期成本的平均价格大约是6美元,Grafton先生说道。
He expects it to stay below that level for three to five years, if not longer.
他期待它保持三到五年低于那个水平,如果不能长久维持的话。
As a result, gas exploration in America is increasingly being determined by the prices of oil and NGLs.
结果是,美国的天然气开发越来越被石油和天然气液体的价格决定。
If they are high enough, energy firms will drill for these, treating the gas as a by-product.
如果它们足够高,能源公司钻井开发他们,而把天然气作为副产品。
In North Dakota, the infrastructure to get much of this gas to market affordably is lacking, so the gas is burned, generating an intense light that can be seen at night from space.
在北达科他州,获得大部分这种天然气且花费公司又能够承担的基础设施是缺乏的,所以这种天然气被烧掉了,产生明亮的光晚上从高空都可以看到。
Roughly speaking, fracking for oil and NGLs is profitable when oil is trading on American exchanges at above 80 a barrel, as it has mostly done for the past four years.
粗略的讲,当石油在每巴仑80美元的美元汇率以上进行交易时,如它在过去的四年大部分时候做的一样,水力裂压法获取石油和天然气液体是有利可图的。
As long as energy firms expect this to continue, there will be lots of drilling, and thus lots of gas as well as oil and NGLs.
只要能源公司希望这种情况能够继续,这里会有许多的钻井,并且因此有许多的天然气还有石油和天然气凝析油。
The market consensus is that the problems of Shell, BHP Billiton and some other big firms mostly reflect a combination of coming late to the party, paying top dollar for drilling sites and choosing some that turned out less productive than expected.
市场的一致性体现在壳牌石油、必和必拓公司和其他大公司的问题大部分反映了一个联合,即晚参加这个花费高昂来钻井和选择一些被发现比预期产量要少矿址的聚会。
Firms that made better, timelier choices are still doing well.
那些做了更好的,及时的选择的公司现在仍然做的很好。
Until Twitter went public earlier this month, the year's hottest American IPO was of shares in Antero Resources, whose wells in the Appalachians are expected to increase their output by 76% in 2014 and 47% the year after.
直到推特这个月的早些时候公开上市,今年最热的美国首次公开募股是Antero Resources天然气公司股票,它在阿巴拉契亚山脉的矿井被期待到2014年将它们的产出提高76%和2015年提高47%。
There is a danger that something—an unexpected slide in oil prices, say—might make investors turn cold on shale firms.
这里的危险是某些情况,如超出预期的石油价格下跌,可能使投资者在页岩开发公司上转冷。
Many of them are master limited partnerships or similar corporate structures that enjoy tax advantages but in exchange must return their entire profits to investors each year.
它们中的许多是业主有限合伙企业或者类似享有税收优惠但作为交换必须每年返他们所有盈利给投资者的公司结构。
That means the firms, which require vast amounts of capital, must constantly raise it afresh, making them exceptionally vulnerable to sentiment among investors. However, no such freeze is in sight.
这意味着这些需要大量资金的公司必须持续重新提升,使他们对投资者情绪特别敏感。但是,没有任何冻结看得见。
Renaissance men
文艺复兴者
As for the effects of fracking on the broader American economy, most of the forecasts that are bullish on this question assume that gas prices will remain at historic lows.
至于水力压裂法在拓展美国经济的影响上面,许多关于这个问题的乐观预测假设天然气会继续保持历史低价。
I can't see any scenario, other than a widespread ban on drilling, that would push prices higher than 6, says Scott Nyquist, one of the authors of a report by the McKinsey Global Institute which argues that unconventional oil and gas are set to provide a strong lift to American business.
我没有看到任何方案,而不是一个在钻井上广泛传播的禁止令,这样会使价格比6美元高,Scott Nyquist说道,他是麦肯锡公司认为非传统石油和天然气被设定为美国商业提供一个有力的支撑的报告的作者之一。
The report reckons that between now and 2020, shale gas and oil will add 380 billion-690 billion, or two to four percentage points, to America's annual GDP, creating 1.7m permanent jobs in the process.
该份报告认为在现在和2020年之间,页岩气和石油会为美国每年GDP增加3800亿到6900亿美元或者二到四的百分点,在这个过程中创造170万永久的工作岗位。
America's New Energy Future, a recent report by IHS, another research outfit, talks of a manufacturing Renaissance and predicts a 533 billion boost to GDP by 2025, creating around 3.9m jobs.
美国的新能源未来,IHS,另外一个研究组织,谈到制造业的文艺复兴并且预测到2025年GDP有5330亿的增长,大概创造390万工作。
At first, say both McKinsey and IHS, a lot of the action will be in the energy business itself: not just in drilling and pipelines but in roads and ports, and all the other activities needed to produce and distribute the fuels. Electricity production is being transformed too, with gas-fired power stations being built to replace dirtier coal-fired ones.
随着修建燃气电站来代替火电站,电力生产政治被变革.这样帮助美国2010到2012年能源生产排放的温室气体减少了10%。
This has contributed to a 10% fall in the greenhouse-gas emissions from American power generation between 2010 and 2012. IHS reckons gas-fired stations will be providing 33% of America's electricity in 2020, compared with just 21% in 2008.
IHS答复相对于2008年燃气电站仅仅供给了美国21%的电力,到2020年燃气电站会提供美国电力的33%。
In the next few years the benefits of fracking will become more visible in other industries, especially those, such as chemicals firms, that consume a lot of energy or use raw materials derived from hydrocarbons.
在接下来的几年,水力压裂法的利益将会在其他产业中更加可视化,特别是那些,例如化学公司,消费许多能源或者使用源于氢碳化合物原材料的产业。
European industry pays around three times as much for its gas as its American counterpart, and Japanese firms pay more than four times as much.
相比它的美国竞争对手,欧洲产业要花费三倍的成本来获得页岩气,日本公司要花费多于四倍的成本。
A report this week by the International Energy Agency, a think-tank backed by energy-consuming rich countries, predicts that by 2015 America's energy-intensive firms will have a cost advantage of 5-25% over rivals in other developed countries.
本周国际能源机构的一份报告预测到2015年美国能源密集型公司会有比其他发达国家的竞争对手的成本低5-25%的优势。
Since 2011, 128 new energy-hungry industrial plants have been announced in the Gulf Coast region alone, with a combined value of 114 billion.
自从2011年,128个新的能源密集型工业工厂在墨西哥沿岸地区设立,整体价值1140亿美元。
Many are in petrochemicals. Methanex recently started advertising jobs in a methanol plant it has dismantled and shipped from Chile to Louisiana.
许多是石油化学产品。梅塞尼斯最近开始广告招聘在一个它所有的分拆出来的并且从智利转移到路易斯安那的甲醇公司的工作。
A second plant will start up in 2016.
第二家工厂会在2016年设立。
In October Yara, a Norwegian fertiliser manufacturer, said it will join forces with BASF of Germany to build a world scale ammonia plant on the Gulf Coast.
十月,亚拉,一个挪威化肥制造商,说它会加入德国的BASF在墨西哥沿岸地区建立一个世界范围内的氨工厂。
The aluminium, iron and steel industries are also taking advantage of cheap gas supplies.
铝、铁和钢工业也在利用廉价天然气供应的优势。
Recently 19 new or expanded plants have been announced by firms including US Steel, Alcoa and ArcelorMittal.
最近包括美国钢铁,Alcoa 和Arcelor Mittal在内的公司宣布将会有19家新的或者扩张的工厂。
Nucor is rebuilding on a site in Louisiana, whose original plant was dismantled and shipped to Trinidad nearly a decade ago, when gas prices were rising in America.
Nutor在路易斯安那州重新建立厂址,近十年前它的原厂被分拆和转移到特立尼达岛,当美国的天然气价格上涨。
Makers of such things as cement and tyres are heavy consumers of energy, too, and thus stand to benefit from cheap gas.
这些产品的制造者是粘合剂,能源的巨大需求是轮胎,因此坚持从廉价天然气中受益。
Fracking the midnight oil
水力压裂获取午夜石油
Compressed or liquefied gas can also be used to power motor vehicles. American firms with big commercial fleets, such as FedEx and AT&T, are looking to cut costs by switching to gas power.
压缩的或者液化的天然气也能够被用来给机动车提供动力。美国拥有巨大商业车队的公司,例如联邦快递和美国电话电报公司,在寻求转为天然气动力的方式来削减成本。
GM, Ford and Chrysler have launched pickup trucks that can switch between petrol and gas.
GM,福特和克莱斯勒汽车公司也发布了能够在汽油和天然气之间进行切换的小卡车拖拉机。
The growing supply of cheap shale gas has led to a wave of investment in converting terminals that were built to handle imports of gas into ones that can export it.
廉价页岩气的持续供应导致了转换终端设备的投资浪潮,该设备被设计来处理通过该设备天然气输入输出的问题。
Some, such as Andrew Liveris, the boss of Dow, a chemicals giant, worry that if too much of America's gas is exported, prices will rise, robbing it of its competitive advantage.
有些,如Andrew Liveris,一家名为Dow化学大公司的老板,担心如果太多的美国天然气被出口,那么价格会上升,抢走了它的竞争优势。
However, the new export facilities will come on stream slowly, especially if the government keeps dragging its feet over granting export licences.
但是新的输出设备在缓慢投入生产,特别是如果政府坚持通过授予出口许可来拖它的后腿。
And even if all the currently planned facilities are opened, which would make America the world's largest gas exporter, gas prices in America would still be some way below the world price—probably no more than 6 per BTU, says McKinsey.
甚至如果所有目前计划的设备开动了,这会使美国成为世界上最大的天然气输出国,美国的天然气价格也会以某种方式低于世界价格水平—可能不会多于每BTU6美元,麦肯锡公司说道。
So America should be able to enjoy a boost to its trade balance while still preserving its manufacturers' advantage over foreign rivals.
所以美国应该仍然能够在对它的外国对手保持它的制造业优势的情况下享受到它的贸易平衡的增长。
Look on the bright side
光明的一面
The argument over the impact on the job market is essentially over whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.
就业市场冲击的争论关于玻璃杯究竟是半空还是半满是有必要的。
The most that Goldman concedes in its sceptical report is that the long-term decline in jobs in energy-intensive industries has merely bottomed out.
大部分高盛在它有疑虑的报告中承认的是能源密集产业长期工作大萧条已经完全降到最低点。
But even this would be worth celebrating.
但是甚至这样也是值得庆祝的。
IHS is not the only forecaster to be much more cheerful.
IHS不是唯一的比较乐观的预测者。
It predicts that unconventional energy, as well as providing jobs in its own right, will be supporting 400,000 jobs in manufacturing in 2015 and 500,000 jobs, or 4.2% of total manufacturing employment, in 2025.
它预计非传统能源,也在它自己的权利范围内提供工作,到2015年会在制造行业提供400,000工作和到2025年500,000工作或者制造业雇佣的4.2%。
The spending-power of those new workers, and the cut in businesses' and households' energy bills, should provide a broad boost to the economy.
这些新雇员的消费能力和在商业和家庭能源账单上的削减应该会对经济提供一个广泛的增长。
Goldman again puts a cautious spin on the numbers: shale energy's overall effects will add just a few tenths of a percentage point to the annual growth rate, says Jan Hatzius, its chief economist.
高盛再次在数据方面提供了一个谨慎的说法:页岩能源的全面影响会仅仅对年增长率增加几十个百分点,Jan Hatzius,它的主要经济学家说道。
But although this sounds modest, if sustained for a decade or more, it would add up to something big. Not quite a revolution, perhaps, but a significant turnaround in America's prospects.
但是尽管这个听起来很谦虚,如果持续十年或者更久,它会累积很大一笔。不算是一个革命,可能,但是是美国前景上的有重要意义的转弯。
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