Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
  • Jun 21 - Mark Hodgson on
    COP 23
  • Jun 20 - Mark Hodgson on
    COP 23

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Slow learner | Main | More shale nonsense »

ECC on shale

The Energy and Climate Change Committee were back on the subject of shale gas yesterday, hearing from two panels of witnesses - one for and one against (video here). This is an improvement for the ECC who have tended to want to hear only the green side of the debate, with only token voices against (see the windfarm inquiry for example).

The stars of the show were Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, and Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre. Egan was measured and sensible and even managed to put over his frustration with bureaucratic delays at DECC without looking exasperated. This was the kind of man you'd want running things. I don't think I'd twigged that the figure of 200TCf shale gas resources is for Lancashire, not the UK. The UK will be much bigger.

Anderson meanwhile was the archetypal academic - somewhat eccentric, full of interesting bits and pieces, but with the unfortunate feature of having swallowed the global warming story whole. If you accepted this rather dogmatic position, then he had some sensible things to say, for example noting that it was probably better to extract gas in the UK than have the Russians extract it for us.

There was a measure of agreement on one issue: that there's a great deal we don't know. Just how much gas will flow from the Beast of Blackpool is anyone's guess, although Egan said that the geology looks good. There really is only one way to find out and that's to drill.

So let's get fracking and find out what we've got.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (56)

Anderson is typical of UK academics promoted for their dumb willingness to swallow the 'consensus' story in the same way Churchmen have to swallow the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. Both sets have the same level of religious belief and the same unquestioning character.

I wonder if in the near future, in its igloo Cathedral just North of the Thames, the Church of the Holy Agenda 21 will canonise Jones and Mann at the same time as ragged, mostly immigrant mobs sack the silent, dark capital in a last paroxysm of rage at our deluded Common Purpose elite?

Dec 12, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Are they not all rabid, dogmatic alarmist at Tyndall; then. I saw an interview with one of their people very recently she was trying to tell us that the end of the world is nigh because of CO²

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Private enterprise is all about risk and reward. Let private enterprise get on and see what's out there. Unfortunately it goes against the grain of bureaucracy to make a decision and let private organisations get on with it. The civil service need their 5 year plans and their targets and the unknown doesn't fit in with their plans.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well said Andrew, "lets get fracking and find out" - to see if its big, or very big - unless the roustabouts and roughnecks are allowed to do their 'thing' - we'll never know.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I caught a bit of Cameron talking to this panel on Sky news yesterday. One very green panellist (didn't catch her name) was wanting commitment that we wouldn't go after unconventional gas, Cameron was not ruling it out at one point stated that there were some Greens who explicitly do not want to look at unconventional gas at all but this would be bad for the UK economy as it would prevent us having the kind of energy revolution the US is enjoying. Carbon Capture and Storage was mentioned a lot and he kept repeating "we just don't know yet" about everything from the size of the shale deposit to the effectiveness of CCS. The green Woman asked if he thought economic benefits for business or protecting the Environment was more important, Cameron said they would go hand in hand and that Shale was reducing the US greenhouse emissions.


Dec 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJace

@ AlecM

You are entitled to your views but I, for one, do not appreciate anti-Christian propaganda on this blog and I also think that if you want to compare willingness to accept consensus views on global warming with anything then a much better comparison would be will smug, unthinking secularism.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Wind currently generating 0.8% of usage, 394MW. From neta.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

The fella from the Tyndall Centre was on the local news up (down?) here. Only bit that stuck in my head was his (almost pleading) assertion, which seemed to go unchallenged (although that could be down to BBC editing) that if we wanted to meet our carbon reduction targets there was no place whatever for shale gas in our energy mix. The obvious challenges to that statement would have been that it's no different to other, natural gas which we're importing from Russia and Scandinavia anyway and also that it would depend on which elements of the current energy mix it was used to displace. One hopes and assumes that the chap from Cuadrilla set the record straight.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

Jace: Of course, the green Woman likes to make it seem like it's a simple argument pitting big business against the environment. We can all see throught that; it's not big business that is the sole beneficiary, it's everybody. And of course there is no need for the environment to suffer at all. All that new energy and ensuing wealth can be used to improve the environment. But no green would ever acknowledge that.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I'll second that.
My belief in a God makes me, if anything, more inclined to be sceptical about the Global Warming "religion" but I see no reason to wave my faith under the noses of those here who do not share it, except on those very rare occasions that it seems relevant to the argument.

To get back to the argument. Jace's

The green Woman asked if he thought economic benefits for business or protecting the Environment was more important
is revealing and it's a shame Cameron didn't pick her up on it but then not everyone is good at thinking on their feet.
But note the lack of any mention of economic benefits for people — as far as the eco-warriors aree concerned there is the wonderful perfect Environment (hurrah!) and there is the evil, destroying businessman (boo! hiss!).
What about people, you stupid bat? Aren't we entitled to anything out of all this? Like heat? Light? Jobs? A bit of prosperity? Not dying of cold because we can't afford to turn the bloody heating on?

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Sorry Roy; as a Christian I defer to your opinion but my point was that to believe in the 'consensus' is a matter of faith, not objective science.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Have I got this right? about 200,000 turbines needed to provide 30% of our needs?

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

The windmills cannot save any CO2 emissions. This is an empirically observed fact from 6 grids like ours.

Build truly massive pump storage with nuclear pumping at pealk times when winter gale surges have to be sunk in 10s of seconds and we might be able to save 3-4% of the fossil fuel use.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I accept your point Alec about how much of the Green argument is a matter of faith. Many people like to have a cause. If the cause is a good one and the way they go about achieving it is the right one then that is excellent. Nearly everyone would accept that the idea of protecting the environment is a good one in principle.

Where the Greens go wrong is that they have made the environment a sacred cow, have forgotten the needs of humanity, and ironically end up damaging the environment with their support for inefficient forms of renewable energy.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Mike Jackson - an excellent post - wholeheartedly agree with it all - obviously your early night did a lot of good ;-)

Dec 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

'So let's get fracking and find out what we've got.'

No. Stop bloviating about it, and let Cuadrilla get fracking, using their/their shareholders money.
Then, if they manage to get some gas available at a price people are prepared to pay, I'm sure many of us will be happy to pay them for it. Particularly if it is considerably less than we are paying at the moment.
If not, let them disappear and wait for someone better equiped to manage such matters to appear over the horizon.

Equally, if their efforts look like they are creating Mordor in the vale of Udun and Gorgoroth, then throw the book at them, and get them to clean it up. This is hardly new stuff, E.E. 'doc' Smith was talking about fracking being the main source of fuels in his sci-fi books over 60 years ago.

Dec 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Roy: the key factor which unites the CO2 religionists is their lack of scientific and technological knowledge and a simplistic view that if only we replaced fossil and nuclear power with windmills, they will not have to compete in a technological society. Therefore, their religion is a bit like fundamentalist Islam, Salafi/Wahabbe, a belief that if we return to a Mediaeval Society, they'll be happier. Unfortunately, 90% of them will die in the bitterly cold weather we are to get in the next 40 years.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

The big fuss about fracking is a direct consequence of the visceral hatred of the oil industry by the green movement and their deep infiltration into our media, our academic institutions and our administrative establishment. The deep irony is that sand frac well completion stimulations are quite routine, and have already been performed on hundreds of UK wells to improve flow rates, all under well programmes fully vetted and approved by DECC and its precursors. Yet our expert committees seem blissfully unaware of it.

For a brief history of fracking, with early photos etc. see

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Thanks Pharos, that looks a very interesting article to read this afternoon whilst toasting my toes in front of the wood burner.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Wind now down to 334MW / 0.6% of demand. Interestingly I see that Oil is providing 266MW / 0.5% - I can't remember the last time I saw any figure in this section.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

The way I see it is that the warmists/greenies already know that fracking for shale gas is not the environmental monster they make it out to be, and that shale gas will be a cheap energy source that will reduce CO2 emissions. Because of this reality, they have to ensure that it is stillborn to prevent the public realising their negative propoganda is totally false.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Also I recall the Green woman asking Cameron about the precautionary priciple and Camoron saying something like it was the behind everything they do in government.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace

This is about infection control:

In his 2005 book, "Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle," Cass R. Sunstein (one of the world's most cited law professors) is emphatic that the precautionary principle offers no guidance because it either endorses taking no action, since to do so would incur greater risks or, it advocates an increasingly complex maze of recommendations and regulations that have little relationship to the original risk and are subject to no cost effective analyses. 2 There are two fundamental faults inherent in the Precautionary Principle. The first is that it allows regulatory agencies to shape and influence policy decisions that have little or no scientific substantiation. The second is the arrogant assumption by the Principle's supporters that only good emanates from its practice. As stated by Professor Frank Cross of the University of Texas, "The truly fatal flaw of the precautionary principle, ignored by almost all commentators, is the unsupported presumption that an action aimed at public health protection cannot possibly have negative effects on public health." 1 Does the RCDSO really wish to base its infection control policies on such a flawed principle?

But it could just as easily apply here, if shale gas produces cheaper energy then winter mortality rates will reduce for those having to chose between eating and heating. By not going for the cheap gas with lower carbon emissions they are in violation of the very principle they advocate.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace

Of course, the precautionary principle itself precludes adoption of anything that might be dangerous, including the precautionary principle.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

michel: "about 200,000 turbines needed to provide 30% of our needs?"

No. If 4,000 turbines are said to produce 380MW, that means most are producing none. And, in cold conditions, stationary turbines have to consume electricity to keep their components warm and serviceable: probably more than the few that are turning produce. 20,000 turbines would make that bad situation worse.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Is it not odd how someone can object to "anti-Christian propaganda on this blog" and then the same person can refer to a "sacred cow" which is surely the equivalent to a Hindu?

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta


Surly a "sacred cow" is one which we give £30m to to prevent it from farting

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace

Camoron, was an unintentional typo or Freudiant slip I'm not sure which.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace


Re windmills supplying our energy requirements I've done a bit of simple back of a fag packet arithmetic (probably get shot down in flames by those in the know). I am assuming roughly 4,000 windmills at the end of this year with a theoretical output of 7GW at 25% availability so I get an average output over the year of 1.75GW.

So 200,000 white elephants, sorry, windmills would equate to 350GW maximum output, far too much against 60GW peak demand.

30% of peak demand would be 18GW. This would need roughly ten times the current number or 40,000 windmills at their average output. But on a fairly windy day, if they all produced their rated maximum, 40,000 windmills would give 70GW total, about double demand in the early hours! As there still would be nuclear, coal and gas running as well the vast majority of the windmills would have to be feathered at enormous cost in compensation payments to the rent seekers. Yesterday which was rather cold and windless, wind dropped at one point to less than one sixth of one per cent of demand (0.07GW). So in similar circumstances 40,000 windmills would be producing a lot less than 2% of demand. So we could very easily go, in the extreme, from wind producing double the demand at night time to less than 2% of demand at the peak, depending on what the weather was doing.

If you worked on the basis of matching peak wind to 30% of peak demand you wouldn't want more than 10,000 windmills. They would average out at about 4GW over the year, less than 10% of demand but thousands of them would need to be shut down on a windy night because they could easily produce more than 50% of demand in the small hours. In yesterday's conditions they wouldn't even supply one per cent of peak on a cold winter's day. So you still go from overwhelming the grid one day to contributing nowt of any significance on another. Costs still astronomic. Effect on the environment of 10,000 windmills - disastrous.

To say that the whole thing would be (will be) rank insanity would be an understatement, especially as windmills don't reduce the output of the hated plant food, and are no more than superfluous to the gas stations which are supposed to back them up.

My brain is starting to hurt.

Dec 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Speaking from a career in risk assessment, the precautionary principle used to be a valuable tool when applied by scientists to situations where for genuine scientific reasons an empirical answer could not be determined, an good example being exposure the substances causing non-threshold effects such as genotoxicity. Unfortunately, the PP got hijacked by policy-makers who see it as the ideal way of (not) dealing with issues that are too politically, or otherwise, sensitive or unpopular for them to want to tackle.

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

"Camoron, was an unintentional typo or Freudiant slip I'm not sure which."
Obviously a typo - caMORON - there fixed it!
You might want to give Freud a little less tea also ;)

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarpetDM

A glimmer of hope...
Tory-led Cambridgeshire County Council voted down a (Lib Dem of course) motion that global warming must be addressed - on the basis that they have 'more important things to worry about'....
Much squeaking and jumping up and down by the Environment spokesperson (LibDem of course) along the lines of 'We're all DOOOOMED..'
Yeah, right...

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

So far I have only listened to the first half with evidence from Egan, Taylor and Tiler. I was struck by:
1 the tone of this part of the session with relatively little hostile questioning compared to some HoC Select Committees;
2 Egan`s comment, towards the end, that they had not reached the bottom of the field with their drilling - in other words they had identified a field that was one mile thick so far with, potentially, more to go based on their core samples;
3 This offered the potential for drilling many horizontal levels with a lower surface footprint compared with US experience with lower field thicknesses of a "couple of hundred feet";
4 Yeo`s comment that the Committee suggested "two years ago" that Cuadrilla should be permitted to extract gas from the Blackpool field - and they were still waiting DECC approval. Will he push Davey on this when he appears on 18 December?
5 MPs sensing that there were jobs, taxes, lower energy costs, lower emissions, import substitution and energy security available if the UK`s shale gas potential can be realised;
6 the apparent need of the industry spokesmen to talk up the future role of renewables even though, as Taylor of the IoD put it, it was driven by policy (as opposed to the economics which drives gas).

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

'We're all DOOOOMED..'

We certainly are, if we continue to pursue policies made up by green activists using threadbare conjecture and paltry computer models which went out with the Sinclair C5 and enacted by fruit loops like Ed Davey and Greg Barker. Doomed indeed: to de-industrialisation and dying of cold unable to afford to heat our homes in Winter.

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

The greens must be spitting feathers - shale gas just wasn't on their radar...
Sorry to rain on your parade, chaps - but looks like we've got the energy which we need to run the UK for a few more decades....

Dec 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@ Phillip Bratby, Dec 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM

".....a very interesting article to read this afternoon whilst toasting my toes in front of the wood burner."

I trust you have a written waiver for non-compliance with the 1993 Clean Air Act:-

" Prohibition of dark smoke from chimneys.

(1) Dark smoke shall not be emitted from a chimney of any building, and if, on any day, dark smoke is so emitted, the occupier of the building shall be guilty of an offence."

Dec 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The Indy is busy disappearing comments on their latest fracking news article.

David Cameron: 'Britain must be at the heart of shale gas revolution'

I don't suppose the Harri clones over there need instruction from the Gazprom PR department to go about their work.

Dec 12, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Registered Commentertomo

All ICTs are exporting; do trust we are getting a good price for the energy, because we are running coal nearly flat out.

French ICT -0.51GW

Dutch ICT -0.76GW

Irish ICT -0.25GW

E-W ICT -0.05GW

I wonder, are we thinking ahead, run coal into the ground, thus leaving gas as the only viable alternative?

Dec 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Bish wrote:

I don't think I'd twigged that the figure of 200TCf shale gas resources is for Lancashire, not the UK. The UK will be much bigger.

Doesn't the Cuadrilla concession only cover a 20*20 mile section? It may be they've hit the bullseye, of course, but if they haven't then there's a lot more gas just in Lancashire. I'd like someone to drill the Widmerpool Gulf. It sounds so very English.


Dec 12, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Worth watching from 11:24:00 on the little clock thing when the "Evil Denier Mr Lilley" starts asking the obvious questions - either there isn't enough gas to be whorthwhile or it will be too good so nobody will want to pay for offshore wind...

I'm liking him more and more these days.

11:29:15 is the killer - they could only oppose it on climate change grounds.

At which point the mouthy guy from the Tyndall centre starts asking them questions!

Dec 12, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

If you want to see warmists flailing desperately, ask them why the precautionary principle doesn't apply to wind turbines which directly extract megawatts of energy from the weather systems while they apply it liberally to questionable extremely indirect effects of things like fossil fuel emissions.

Dec 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

David, 1.54:"looks like we've got the energy which we need to run the UK for a few more decades...."

More like hundreds of years. And it's not just shale gas, there have been great developments in the technology of in situ gassification of coal, since the NCB first pioneered it in Shropshire over 50 years. This should allow the exploitation of coal deposits that are uneconomical, or unsafe, to extract by conventional mining techniques.

Dec 12, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian


You still have not twigged ^.^
200 trillion cubic feet is not Lancashire, it is the Cuadrilla license area which covers about 475 sq miles. Lancashire totals just under 1200 sq miles.
Also the new figure from Cuadrilla is 300 trillin cf and still does not take into account the fact that they have not yet reached the bottom of the shale deposit with their drilling.

Dec 12, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dec 12, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Morph

Another good bit starts at 11:33, when one of the other MPs kept pressing the 3 stooges - "where is the baseload coming from?"

They all struggled with this simple question and eventually that Anderson creature (is there a doctor in the house to give us an opinion about his eyes) said, at 11:37:42, that by using car batteries for storage and domestic heating provided solely by electricity for inertia, you could have "an intermittent baseload system".

The MP then just gave up, presumably because he finally cottened on to the fact that he was engaging with complete idiots.

Dec 12, 2012 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Why were WWF UK and Friends of the Earth there? Both took time out to emphasize that their reports, were not actually “their” reports but they were in fact reports carried out by energy consultants who they had commissioned. If that is the case then surely the committee would gain more insight questioning the consultants, the advocacy is already known.

Dec 12, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

Why were WWF UK and Friends of the Earth there?


Dec 12, 2012 at 6:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Green Sand, Dung,

What would be far more interesting in the case of WWF, would be an in-depth investigation into how much of their funding that they raise by their highly emotive TV campaigns to adopt a tiger/snow leopard/polar bear/monkey/elephant/etc, etc; actually goes towards conservation work for the species involved, and how much actually gets diverted to their political lobbying and sending staff to various greenie/warmie junkets around the world? I would put serious money that any such inquiry would meet with a very solid wall of silence.

Dec 12, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

What a profoundly depressing second half of the video.

Why does the HOC Energy and Climate Change Committee indulge in interviews with aliens from the planet Unreality?

The aliens don't even know what they are talking about: they are regugitating the contents of reports that the UK Government paid them to commission (in a roundabout way).

They bandied figures of multiple degrees C warming in the coming thermal Armageddon with no recognition that there has been no warming for the last 16 years in a 'business as usual' scenario. All this whilst spluttering about the terrible uncertainty of shale gas saying that it had no place in any future energy strategy compliant with international emissions commitments but would be required to 'back up' a grid built with 75% offshore wind.

They should be sent straight back to planet Unreality where this scheme backed up by unicorns probably works.

Someone needs to tell them what 'base load' is before they go.

Dec 12, 2012 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I watched the whole video ( I must get out more) and like many commenting here was struck by the contrast between the sober presentation of the first half and the sense of panic and guilt which the second team tried to induce in the committee members.
When the economic arguments got too difficult for them they fell back on the government's commitment to reduce carbon emissions. They may see this as playing their ace, and the Pecksniffian grin on Anderson's face every time he mentioned it shows what great faith he has in this card. These alarmists need to remind themselves that politics is , and will remain, the art of the possible.As it becomes clearer that their 'solution' to the ' problem ' entails massive damage to the prosperity of the country, and has little effect on the policies of other governments, carbon dioxide emissions or the climate, our political leaders(of all persuasions) will start looking for ways to trump this ace. Not only will they seek but they will find,because they will need to. The tragedy will be if that realisation comes slowly.

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Petch

It may be useful to post this link to the 2010 DECC shale gas report titled THE UNCONVENTIONAL HYDROCARBON RESOURCES OF BRITAIN’S ONSHORE BASINS- SHALE GAS. It was written by the BGS under contract to DECC, and is I think a very good overview. I posted a link some while back on an old thread, so apologies to those who have already read it. (BTW a 6.6 megabyte pdf file)

Dec 12, 2012 at 9:32 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>