David Hughes

Fellow, Fossil Fuels


J. David Hughes is a geoscientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager. He developed the National Coal Inventory to determine the availability and environmental constraints associated with Canada’s coal resources. As Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee, he coordinated  publication of a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential. He is currently president of a consultancy dedicated to research on energy and sustainability issues.

Over the past decade, he has researched, published and lectured widely on global energy and sustainability issues in North America and internationally. His work with Post Carbon Institute includes Drill, Baby, Drill (2013), the most comprehensive publicly available analysis to date of the prospects for shale gas and tight oil in the United States, and Drilling California, the first publicly available empirical analysis of actual oil production data from California's much-promoted Monterey Formation.

Hughes's work has been widely cited in the press, including in The Economist, Forbes, and Bloomberg, and has been featured in Canadian BusinessWalrus and elsewhere. He is a board member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas – Canada and recently contributed to Carbon Shift, an anthology edited by Thomas Homer-Dixon on the twin issues of peak energy and climate change. 


Will the Monterey Shale be an energy and economic boon for California?

length: 50:49   credit: Next Generation and Post Carbon Insitute   Apr 03, 2014

On March 27, 2014 “Drilling California” author J. David Hughes was joined by business leader and Next Generation co-founder Tom Steyer and Robert Collier, a research fellow with Next Generation, to discuss the prospects of developing California’s Monterey Shale during a panel in Sacramento.

Link to the Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale report by David Hughes.


As It Happens: California shale oil

length: 07:00   credit: CBC Radio   May 24, 2014

An interview with Post Carbon Fellow David Hughes on how the oil industry managed to overestimate the amount of extractable oil in a California shale formation by a truly astonishing amount: about fourteen billion barrels.

Segment begins at 11:15 minutes

Latest Publications

The EIA is Seriously Exaggerating Shale Gas Production in its Drilling Productivity Report

David Hughes    Apr 21, 2014   

“Natural gas output from US' Marcellus edges closer to 15 Bcf/d: EIA” declared the headline in Platts that attracted my attention, since the latest data on the Marcellus shale gas play of PA and WV indicated … >>

Where will all the water come from for LNG?

David Hughes    Feb 28, 2014   

By Ben Parfitt and David Hughes One glaring problem with the provincial government’s strategy to turn B.C. into a LNG-exporting juggernaut is that it scuttles any chance B.C. has to be a climate-change leader. But … >>

Perfora, Chico, Perfora

David Hughes    Dec 10, 2013   

En Perfora, Chico, Perfora, J. David Hughes ha analizado en profundidad e investigado rigurosamente la posibilidad de diversos combustibles no convencionales para generar abundancia energetica. Aunque el informe se centra … >>

The ENERGY Reader

David Hughes

What magic, or monster, lurks behind the light switch and the gas pump? Where does the seemingly limitless energy that fuels modern society come from? From oil spills, nuclear accidents, mountaintop removal coal mining, and … >>

press coverage

Hughes on the end of fracking at Vice News

David Hughes  

Post Carbon Fellow David Hughes' work on the shale bubble was featured in this article at Vice. From the article: America's political elites are embracing the promise of American energy independence — and that, … >>