Filmmaker’s Blog


A Haynesville Roughneck From 1971 Weighs In

This is a note that was sent from a gentleman named Gary LaBlue.  While not part of the current Haynesville Shale discovery, he gives an honest glimpse of what it was like to work in the gas fields in 1971:

Haynesville Louisiana is where I began my oilfield career in 1971 so it is really near and dear to my heart. Worked the rigs, cemented, frac’d, and ran downhole tools for Halliburton, averaged 125 hours a week for over four years ~ beginning wage $1.35 ~ Halliburton Employment Number 50526, really good at remembering numbers. Still have all of my payroll stubs from those days because young people just don’t believe anyone worked that many hours for that little money. Heck man, we were very wealthy in those days, good health, clothes on our backs, roof over our heads and a pillow to lay our heads down on when we did get some sleep. Sometimes …. A lot of the time …. I wished that ALL of our political leaders could have walked in my shoes before being elected into their lush / evil lifestyles. Good Luck on your future endeavors.

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What does the Haynesville Shale’s 230 Trillion Feet of Gas Really Mean?

These days, people are looking at the word “Trillion” and brushing it off like it’s something you pull out of an ATM.  The number has definitely lost its meaning.  We have seen it while making this film.  It used to be that a “Billion” was a huge number.  That’s why we thought people would be absolutely flummoxed by the idea that gas find we cover in the film could total 230 trillion cubic feet.  Instead, people look at the number and figure it’s only 23 times what the government is putting into the current bailout package.

The truth is, a “Trillion” is a lot.  The Haynesville Shale reserves of 230 trillion cubic feet in itself can take over the entire U.S. electrical grid and run it for a significant amount of time.  So what does a “trillion” mean?  Chris Lyon (the editor of Haynesville) found this cool, really illustrative video on Mint.com.  Check it out.

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Speculation or Regulation? Paving the way to a clean energy future.

commodity-tradingWe’ve gotten two very different reactions to our post on the Obama adminstration’s exploring of curbs on energy speculation (Read entire article).  There those who believe that it is time for government to step in and regulate prices and that energy speculators should “go to Hell”, and there are those who believe that a free market should determine the price and that the government should stick it up their… well, you get the idea.

The idea of curbing energy speculation is tougher than it looks, and once again shows how complicated the energy issue can be.  There is definitely an argument against speculation of energy price.  It came in the form of $150 a barrel oil.  For those who don’t remember, go check your scrapbook and pull out a gas receipt from around that time.  There is also an argument against the government regulating the energy market.  Unfortunately, their ineptitude is well-documented in most things the government regulates.  So which direction is the right one?

To start we have to assume a couple of truths:  1)  We need fossil energy, primarily in the form of natural gas and oil.  I know.  It might be hard to swallow, but we need fossil energy now and, most experts on all sides of the issue believe that will we probably need some natural gas and oil deep into the future.  2)  This energy will always have an extraction price, and any business would like to exact a price that enables them to make a profit (like it or not, this is a capitalist system).

This sets up the textbook “supply and demand” system.  As long as the demand is there, then the supply will be there.  In energy’s case, the price implications of swings in supply are pretty huge.   Fossil energies are present everywhere in our lives. Energy cools our homes, gets us to the grocery store, cooks our food, etc.  The market for energy is usually fairly decent at self-correcting.  This was until recently when speculation, feeding on itself like a Ponzi scheme, drove energy prices to unsustainable heights.  Dizzying fuel prices were incredibly difficult for all of us. As a result, our spending came to a screeching halt, providing a catalyst for the current global economic crisis.  As a result, curtailing speculators doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

I believe that there is a way for the government to regulate speculators, keep prices fairly stable, and help clean and renewable energy develop more quickly.  The general idea would be to build in price triggers on the top and bottom of the domestic energy market (i.e. energy that is found in the US).  I’m sure there are some libertarians that are about to jump my train, but I beg for a bit of patience.  In order to keep the energy companies exploring for huge finds like the Haynesville Shale, the government could set a price floor for oil and gas.  Now libertarians are really getting mad.  Some might even throw the epithet  “corn subsidy lover” at me.  To that point, keep in mind that corn is as abundant as a farmer wants to make it.  Energy, on the other, hand is a finite resource.

Back to my point:  When prices fall below the price set by the government, they subsidize the difference.  Therefore, the gas and oil exploration companies will always know they have an incentive to look for new sources of energy.  The novelty of this plan is the trigger at the top of the market.  When the prices of domestically found gas and oil rise above a certain price (a level that allows the individual companies to benefit, but not high enough to be crippling to the nation), the government then places a high tax on the difference.  In other words, above a certain price, the gas and oil companies have made their profit and the government essentially gets the rest.  This taxed money then goes into a pool.  The pool provides two purposes:  1) to pay for the subsidy on energy and, more importantly, 2) to go into a trust fund that distributes the money to clean energy and renewable energy research and to provide low interest loans to clean energy start-ups.

We’re living in an amazing time.  Through this economic meltdown, we have basically pressed the “reset” button.  As a result,  we’re finally paying attention to energy and the way use it, as well as the way we find and produce it.  I truly hope we’re smart and take advantage of this time and create a system that makes sure that energy is always available and also abundant.

Gregory Kallenberg, Director of Haynesville

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How the Haynesville Shale (Documentary) got to be so Big

The energy future needs to start now.When I started out the “Haynesville” project, it was a fairly small mission:  Follow the lives of people in northwestern Louisiana as they experienced a major energy find called the Haynesville Shale.

The lives we were lucky enough to follow are amazing – a single mom who is a community and environmental activist, a African American reverend looking for the Haynesville Shale to fund his school and an overnight millionaire ruminating about what will happen to his land. It was once we all started to realize the scale of the Haynesville as an energy find, that we realized that this story was much bigger than the original mission.

With the Haynesville Shale firmly established as the largest natural gas find in the U.S. (and now, maybe the world), the story became as much about the energy as the people.  This find could possibly change the way we look at energy.  In a time where coal is totally screwing up our environment and oil is a volatile commodity that is largely out of our control, the Haynesville could help spearhead the move to cleaner, more stable sources.  This is really important because we finally have a shot at replacing coal and diminishing our dependence on oil.  With an abundant supply of natural gas and a good jump on a renewable energy future, the combination could win us a bright energy future.

With that in mind, we constructed a film that will show everyone what that energy future could be, while showing our audience what happens at the ground level when a find like this is exploited.  We hope you walk away from “Haynesville” understanding the potential of this energy find while also understanding its human impact.  And that’s how our view of the Haynesville Shale got to be so big.

-Gregory Kallenberg, Director of Haynesville

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Welcome!

Consider this post a big pineapple, the traditional Hawaiian gift of hospitality (except for the fact that you can’t eat and, in truth, it’s not a living thing).

Here, we will be updating progress on “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for Energy” as well as beginning the important discussion of the energy future.  We will also be performing musical numbers and comedy sketches about energy and its origins (the one where we act form layers of the earth is hilarious).

So please stick around and keep checking in.  We should have the trailer up soon and some good energy items that will get you thinking.

Also, please check us out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/haynesvillemovie) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/haynesvillefilm).

-Gregory Kallenberg, Director of Haynesville

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Thoughts on Moving (Upward)

Parting can be sweet sorrow.  Or, not.

The “Haynesville” production office is moving on up.  We are moving to the 10th floor which is literally “up”, as we are currently on the 9th floor.

Here is a picture of the space without crap in it:

Suite 1007, emphasis on the "007".  Come visit.As I leave 930F (our old space), I can’t help but think of the film and how we cut “Haynesville” here.  I look around as I leave for the last time.  Over there is where Chris, the editor, downed his eighth Coke so that he could power through till 4am (three nights in a row).  On the couch was where Mark would sneak his power naps.  And me?  Being a nervous eater of granola, my mark was made by piles of ground in whole oats in the carpet.

But now it’s a new space.  Clean and full of possibility. 1007.

So help us say goodbye to 930F and “hello” to 1007. I can’t wait to spill the first handful of granola.

-Gregory Kallenberg, Director of Haynesville

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The Tangled Web of Energy

greenEnergy1

Recently, I had the opportunity to get deep into a discussion about “Haynesville” and what the film could add to the current energy discussion.  It was interesting because this person had fairly restrictive views on the energy picture and where we , as a nation, should be.  He focused on green energy and the idea that we should immediately switch over to wind and solar.  His future was one of electric cars and zero carbon emissions.  In his mind, coal and oil were things we could simply wish away, and they would be gone by the end of the week.

As I politely listened to his screed on fossil fuels, I thought about my own understanding of the energy picture when I started the “Haynesville” project.  It was very simple and similar to this gentleman’s.  I, too, believed that it was easy as flicking a switch and being done with fossil fuels.  I saw the Haynesville gas find as more of monkey’s paw that the people of Louisiana had to bear.  Without giving anything away in the film, once filming started, I attained a broader understanding of the issues.  And here is my understanding in a nutshell: It’s really, really complicated.  There is an answer, but it’s complicated.

I know.  Saying that “it’s complicated” is a bit of a cop out.  The truth is that, currently, we can’t just throw the switch and make everything renewable.  While the film makes the case better than my typing, the energy picture is a tangled web of sources, technologies and a nation whose energy consumption is skyrocketing.  What we need is more time to develop better, cleaner sources of energy.  What we need is education on how to live better with less energy.  What we need is the answer that is laid out by the energy experts (environmentalists, energy industry wonks and academics) in “Haynesville”.  That said, I guess you’ll have to see the film to know what I’m talking about.  Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

-Gregory Kallenberg, Director of Haynesville

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