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Select committee backs shale

The House of Commons Energy Select Committee has backed shale gas drilling in the UK. According to Roger Harrabin at the BBC:

A Commons committee has urged ministers to support plans for controversial shale gas drilling in the UK.

The energy select committee said environmental problems associated with it in the US could be overcome by tight regulation and good industry practice.

But the MPs said the UK government would need to be vigilant to ensure the technology did not pollute water or produce excessive greenhouse emissions.

H/T Woodentop in Unthreaded

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Reader Comments (19)

A typicasl Roger Harrabin article, full of nonsense, scaremongering and quotes from WWF. I couldn't make sense of the last paragraph.

The argument runs that gas will be needed as a relatively low-cost transition technology, filling in the generation gap when the wind drops. Nuclear power, on the other hand, competes with wind because it produces baseload electricity that needs to be used.

Nuclear baseload does not compete with intermittent wind. Baseload does not need to be used - baseload is the minimum demand. If the minimum winter demand is 30GW, then we need 30GW of baseload in winter. If minimum summer demand is 20GW then we need 20GW of baseload in summer.

May 24, 2011 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I was disappointed to read in the same article that the estimated UK onshore reserves represented only one and a half years supply. Hardly the great solution to the UK's need to import more and more of our fuel needs.
Has Harrabin cherry-picked a low estimate or is his figure realistic?

May 24, 2011 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

@May 24, 2011 at 7:41 AM | Jack Savage

I wouldn't believe Harrabin if he said today is Tuesday.

BBC 10 O'clock news last night with its obligatory "expert" advice from the WWF was also agonising about the effect on landscape of shale gas drilling rigs. And they were being serious, apparently.

No worries about the effect of BigWind, naturally. As BuffHuhne says, Wind Turbines are "beautiful".

May 24, 2011 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Any report written by Harribin must be filletted and deconstructed, then assembled again to make sense. Despite the silly wittering from WWF, it seems if one reads between the lines, common sense may be breaking out among some MPs. I suspect the figures for the reserves may be inaccurate by an order of magnitude, or two.

May 24, 2011 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Lisrening to that WWF guy really gets you questioning if WWF is a Charity anymore, by what logic does money given to save animals get spent on an expert on energy when no mention is made on their fund raising guff.

May 24, 2011 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

As other people have said anything Harrabin says should be take with a truckload of salt & very carefully examined. Otherwise it's beginning to look like there are some glimmerings of sanity creeping into the UK government - well it had to happen sometime :)

May 24, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNHills

Same old, same old... The story immediately gets trotted out about someone in America being able to light their tap water - this was apparently nothing to do with shale gas exploration nearby, but some other gas contamination. But - hey - don't let the facts get in the way of a good story..!
Shale gas is probably at the stage of development like the old movies where they struck oil - and ran around laughing covered in the stuff as it gushed out of the ground...
Funny, isn't it - the 'powers that be' now get concerned that this may be a cheap form of energy - like that is something undesirable, because it messes with the received wisdom that 'carbon' is nasty and must be taxed into oblivion.

May 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

The British Geological Survey produced a report on the prospects for shale gas in Britain last year.

May 24, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

From the BGS report

Even if one assumes that the American shale gas producing analogies are valid, many of the operating conditions are different in the UK. In the UK, land owners do not own mineral rights, so there is little incentive to support development, and local authorities must grant planning consent. The US has relatively permissive environmental regulations, low population densities, tax incentives, existing infrastructure, well developed supply chains and access to technology. Cumulatively, these factors mean that it is far from certain that the conditions that underpin shale gas production in North America will be replicable in the UK.

Wonder who owns the mineral rights for my garden?

May 24, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

May 24, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Breath of Fresh Air

"Wonder who owns the mineral rights for my garden?"

It all depends, see:

Good luck.

May 24, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

And Tim Yeo is worried that Shale gas will be too cheap !!!!

They want energy to be expensive to justify their renewables !!!!!

Tim Yeo, the Tory MP and former minister who chairs the committee, said: "Shale gas could encourage more countries to switch from coal to gas, which in some cases could halve power station emissions. But if it has a downward effect on gas prices it could divert much needed investment away from lower carbon technologies like solar, wind, wave or tidal power."

May 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

May 24, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Brownedoff

Thanks for the link, non the wiser LOL, sounds like its the Queen follwed by Prince Chuckles !!

May 24, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

@May 24, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Breath of Fresh Air

Not sure but almost certainly DECC. A google search on "PEDL Licence" throws up a DECC site but there is a Certification error on it (wonderful!). A cached version is at:-

If you are looking for coal bed methane or methane from old mine workings in England, you'll also have to approach the Coal Authority.

It is interesting that the people doing the exploratory work near Blackpool appear to be doing it on a strictly commercial basis. That is, if there is plenty of gas and they sell it, then they'll make a decent profit (providing they don't get a 'windfall tax' stuck up them!) If they don't, they'll make a loss. When losses get too great they'll go away and do something else.

Just like BigWind, of course!

Interesting also that it was suggested that they are looking at a depth of around 9,000 feet. Deepest coal mine was North Selby (now closed) working seams at around a kilometre. Depth of potable water aquifers in UK normally less than 1,000 feet (sorry for mix of units). There have been cases of methane showing up at ground level from fairly shallow (probably less than 150 feet) abandoned coal mine workings (famously at old Arkwright village) when the workings become flooded from groundwater rebound.

There is zero chance of methane from shale beds appearing in drinking water in the UK. This has all the hallmarks of a deliberate greenie hoax.

May 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

But if it has a downward effect on gas prices it could divert much needed investment away from lower carbon technologies like solar, wind, wave or tidal power.
Excellent! Bring it on!
Yeo, ye're an eejit.

May 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Just so Mr Yeo's comments are referenced correctly. The mask slipped a bit.

May 24, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Anything that WWF, Fiends of the Earth, Time Yeo and the Grauniad are so upset about, absolutely must be the way to go.

May 24, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"I was disappointed to read in the same article that the estimated UK onshore reserves represented only one and a half years supply."

From No Hot Air:

"In this case, only time and further exploration will tell. But looking at the only analogies we have coming from North America, one thing has been clear: The actual size of the resource has been consistently understated, and US shales exceed original expectations even as newer shale plays emerge. The US EIA report of April 2011 for example estimate UK recoverable resources, which almost invariably increase as time progresses, at 20TCF or 566.33 BCM or over 6 years of total use.

But the impact on gas prices would be far greater, since 2009 LNG imports were just over 10 BCM. So the conservative EIA figure means no LNG imports at all for over 50 years."

And there is more shale offshore.

May 24, 2011 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Re Tim Yeo's howler of a comment (Mike Jackson/Breath of Fresh Air, above) - reminds me of that famous response by Harold Macmillan when questioned by a reporter as to what had caused the political crisis of the day:
'Events, dear boy, events...'

May 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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