Are Greenpeace getting a bit desperate over shale gas? In an article at their Energy Desk site, ex-BBC man Damian Khaya looks at differences between shale gas in the UK and the US.
1) They have more gas than we do.
The US has a bounty of shale gas. In 2011 US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimated that they have a total recoverable reserve of 862trn cubic feet. By contrast the estimate for the UK was 20trn cubic feet.
That works out as 2.7trn cubic feet of shale per million Americans, versus about 0.3 per million Brits. Some suggest the UK shale reserve is around double the EIA estimate, but the point remains.
In the USA the world and his wife have all test drilled their backyards to see if they are sitting on a goldmine. But in the UK, the government owns the shale gas and so nothing has happened, including test drilling to see what is there. Reserves figures for the UK are therefore very low. But even the 20TCf figure is wildly understated, predating Cuadrilla's announcement of the size of their find under Lancashire. This amounts to another 200Tcf of resource of which anything between ten and 40% might be extractable at today's prices.
And this is just Lancashire. You hear figures of 60% of the UK being potentially exploitable. Lancashire is not much more than 1% of that. I think it's fair to say that our ex-BBC Greenpeace man has forgotten to include some important details.
Kahya goes on to say this:
A recent estimate by Poyry found that, taking into account likely UK and global production, UK gas prices would be 2-4% lower than they otherwise would have been without shale.
Tsk, tsk. If you actually go and look at the Poyry report you will find that it is referring only to the effect of the Cuadrilla find on UK gas prices. So that last sentence should read "would otherwise have been without Lancastrian shale".
Hmm. More important details missed...
Anyway, it's an amusing little diversion of an article, not least because there are no fewer than five differences between the UK and US situations. Which is odd for an article entitled "Fracking go-ahead: four differences between the US and UK".
Incidentally, Nick Grealy's post on Poyry makes interesting reading.
The Telegraph front page tomorrow will announce that the government is to give the go-ahead to fracking in the UK.
For a more sensible green view of UK shale, try the Carbon Brief.