Making people like you is one way to get famous; making people hate you is another. If geologist Arthur Berman is getting well known, it’s via the latter route. For several years, Berman, a Houston-based petroleum geologist who worked for two decades for Amoco Corp. before starting his own consulting business and blog (Petroleum Truth Report), has been espousing a point of view that runs in stark contrast to conventional wisdom and challenges the very bedrock of America’s energy future: that energy companies are overblowing the profitability of natural gas.
Berman’s voice has been a relatively small one in the wilderness, known mostly to industry insiders — until just over a month ago, when The New York Times published an article titled “Insiders Sound An Alarm Amid A Natural Gas Rush.” The article cited the emails of various gas- and energy-industry insiders who, sometimes using eye-catching words such as “Enron” and “Ponzi scheme,” questioned whether the profits from gas being drilled in “shale” formations in Texas and in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale even cover the costs of drilling for it. Most of the emails were anonymous. Berman was one of only two named sources.