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« A story of decline | Main | Desperate times »

Really desperate times

With ministers expected to annouce a go-ahead for Cuadrilla today, the green movement is in overdrive, wailing and gnashing their teeth. Fiona Harvey gets her retaliation in first:

Household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year by the end of the decade if the UK relies increasingly on gas, the government's climate advisers warned on Thursday.

But the Committee on Climate Change found that bills would only be £100 higher than today's average dual fuel bill of about £1,300, if the country concentrated on renewable power generation, such as wind power.

The CCC estimates use the DECC assumption that wholesale gas prices will rise by 27% and that gas will continue to be loaded with extra costs. Given that Poyry are now saying that exploiting the Bowland Shale alone will reduce gas prices by 2-4% (a figure that is likely to be on the low side), I would say Ms Harvey is a bit behind the times.

Funny that.

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Reader Comments (102)

So, increase the supply of something and the price goes up. In a green world, black is white.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Harrabin on Today program this morning amongst other doom and gloom speculation concerning shale gas, again the figure of 20trn cubic feet was used to indicate the entirety of the supply for the UK.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

They are panicking - the HoC session video posted yesterday was a good example of the panic mongering and lack of knowledge.

Slightly OT - Has anyone noticed Leo Hickman' attempts to link DECC to "Evil" oil and gas

Does anyone know if there has been a similar request for numbers of individuals from "Green" energy companies, or indeed from "Campaign" organisations (WWF, FoTE etc etc.) ?

Once the anouncement to frack is made (asap please) whats the betting there will be a story on how the government has been hijacked by "Big Fossil Fuel".

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

At it's peak, the North Sea fields were producing about 10trn cubic feet per year, but I don't know where the 20 is coming from, I thougth Cuadrilla estimated there was 200 trn cubic feet alone in the basin, and that might be conservative? That's enough to run at peak North Sea gas levels for 20 years!

It almost makes sense now why the govt has apparently U-turned on shale - if they were formerly believing the greenies 20, and when speaking to Cuadrilla (who are putting their own money and company into the risk, so are to be believed better I'd say) get a much higher figure.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

It's all doom I tell you! Leading story on the news this morning is that our power bills are going to go up around £600 if we continue to rely on gas! I'm assuming this is in response to fracking getting the go ahead today!

God I hope fracking works so we can jam it down the green morons throats...sorta like I hope we go in to a new ice age so we can tell the Mann Made Global Warming (tm) catastrophiliacs to f@£k off! :)



Dec 13, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Fiona Harvey gets her information from David Kennedy, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee. David Kennedy tells stories. He’s a story teller. He says so himself. Here he is at the Guardian Greenpeace debate organised to launch Greenpeace’s energy website:

What I want to do is just tell you a very well-evidenced story in a nutshell which I hope a lot of you know already...Okay so then, the story. I mean, my organisation has over the last five years has developed a story that's embodied in legislation, that story is that we should be aiming at an 80% emissions reduction in 2050 on 1990 levels... so, that is the story in a nutshell, as I say, it's very well-evidenced, it is embodied in the legislation, I think it's generally accepted, and... you were going to back me up there and say it was very well-evidenced and researched and accepted at least by sensible people, that story.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I notice that the comments column has been switched off on Ms. Harvey's flight of fancy. It's difficult to imagine a piece more scientifically and economically illiterate. Maybe the expectation of a storm of scorn and derision in the comments was enough for the Guardian to censor public comment?

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

It used to be that journalists were pilloried for getting basic facts wrong. Now they just move onto the next lie without a stain on their character, it seems.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

When I have told acquaintances the windmills can save no gas use because of the particular efficiency curve of CCGTs, they have generally asked for the reasoning then have gone very quiet.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Yeah I heard on Today that Climate Change quango "Government advisor" Kennedy warning against producing shale in the UK because of "penalty prices for producing carbon". You know? The penalty prices he lobbies for. At the same time he seriously warns against being dependent on foreign gas - from exporters who don't suffer the carbon penalties Kennedy wants here.

Gotta love the bubble they live in - we have to treat this as if it's sane.

Government advice? From which country? ;)

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

This story was on BBC Breakfast over the last hour or so, introduced with some important on-message key phrases - "controversial method", "18-month ban", "blamed for causing two small earthquakes", and "major opposition from environmentalists and local campaigners".

The talking heads part was better - my impression was that Dan Lewis (Energy Policy Advisor, Institute of Directors) came across as more persuasive and better informed than his opponent (FoE's Tony Bosworth), making the points that the U.S. has seen the price of natural gas fall, and that CO2 emissions (for those who care) are down. And he actually got the last word.

About 20 minutes earlier in the programme there was a mention of reliance on gas making energy prices rise (that £600 thing), so I thought they'd bring up the Cambridge Econometrics report, but they didn't, at least not in this particular segment.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

I would say Ms Harvey is a bit behind the times.

The £600 includes the penalty for all her solar and wind farms. They still have to be built unless the UK leaves Europe.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Kennedy was a disaster on Today, I'm glad there's no chance of him taking up a post at DECC, he's the biggest liar and idiot I've heard on Today in ages.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterIanH

Grumpy Old Man
Comments haven’t been switched off on Fiona Harvey’s article. This is a news item. Comments are only switched on on comment articles, in accordance with the Guardian’s motto: “Comment is Free, but Facts are Scarey”.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Lots on BBCR4 Today about fracking.

First, they are incapable of using the word 'fracking' without using the word 'controversial' in the same sentence. Wind is controversial too, but that never gets mentioned.

David Kennedy was on, trying hard to mislead listeners by saying that fracking and gas could be expensive if there's a big carbon price. On the plus side, he was given quite a hard time by John Humphrys and they had someone sensible from Shell on too.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I expect Humphrys will be taken away for re-education. He was asking some pertinent questions!

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

It would appear that Cameroon has made two sensivle decisions. One is not to appoint the dangerously idiotic David Kenndy to head the DECC civil service and two to allow fracking,

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

These people are getting desperate, there has now been a huge find of shale gas and oil that covers a huge area of Alberta, Canada. Both the U.S. and Canada are building Natural gas plants to produce LNG and shipping facility's on the East Coast and we are their cheapest destination. We will be able to buy from many sources soon, so the idea that gas prices will go up by such a huge amount is laughable. It's more likely that the cost of the wind farms will put up prices if we don't take advantage of the shale gas.

A recent report has said that we are more likely to get earth tremors if we drill for geothermal energy or start Carbon capture and pumping it underground, so there goes another one of their cherished dreams.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterForester126

Really got my goat the way Kennedy kept saying it will be "more expensive". All someone needed to do was to say "no Kennedy you arse: YOU are loading taxes onto it. That is not the same thing"

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Indeed the climate change committee spokesman on R4 had me shouting at the radio this morning, arousing the desire to slap him so hard his head detached from his body.

As others have pointed out here, these people simply do not exist in an kind of meaningful reality, to say, as he did, that fracking is pointless because we are going to apply so much tax/cost/regulation to any gas produced it will be uneconomic is complete and utter madness. Compounded by his claim that world gas prices must inevitably continue to rise, a totally unsupportable claim given that the world economy is still shrinking and unexploited deposits of shale gas are truly massive on a world scale to name but two points.

One small gleam I detected was that Humphreys was slightly more even handed in his comments, pointing out the Blackpool seismic events were very, very small for example. Overall I have noticed a few tiny cracks in the climate apocalypse faith in R4's news coverage. Not enough to make a meaningful difference as yet, but 'from tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow', as they say.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

Ed Davey "Whether any production operations may be proposed will depend on the success of the exploration work, but, in any event, this is likely to be some years away yet." He obviously has in mind how the bureaucrats can slow the whole process down to a crawl.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Ed Davey, erecting barricades in the path of an unstoppable juggernaut:-

"New controls announced for shale gas exploration "

"New controls to mitigate seismic risks announced today include:

A prior review before fracking begins must be carried out to assess seismic risk and the existence of faults;

A fracking plan must be submitted to DECC showing how seismic risks will be addressed;

Seismic monitoring must be carried out before, during and after fracking;

A new traffic light system to categorise seismic activity and direct appropriate responses. A trigger mechanism will stop fracking operations in certain conditions."

The juggernaut will not stop, can't put the genie back in the bottle, mankind will continue to improve his well being.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

To be honest Green Sand, those controls seem sensible, and I doubt will slow down an experienced drilling company, who will be used to producing such reports and doing such monitoring. All good, as far as I can see.

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

A great day for mankind.

I only hope that something similar will happen here in the Basque Country where we sit on a large field too.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterbilbaoboy

Ah...exploration only. So the green goons still have a lifeline!


Dec 13, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

It's quite clear from Ed's statement that he has been pressured into allowing further investigation of shale gas and he and the odious Kennedy are acting like sulky children made to do what the adults want. As others have posted, the intention is to so regulate shale gas that it is at least as expensive as Windpower The Green lobby are determined to keep their rent-seeking opportunities alive and will fight to the death. As to Peter C's post a t0940, i would suggest that R4 and Humphreys are so virulently anti-coalition that he is relentlessly contrarian even when he is in agreement with a Minister's sentiments.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

Harrabin is plain lying through his teeth in his piece on the BBC site:-

Fracking involves creating little explosions underground, then injecting water and chemicals to release gas trapped in cavities in shale rocks.

I know being technically illiterate is part of the Beeb science correspondent's job spec - but I don't think he's really that stupid. Fracking is an entirely hydraulic process, using a high pressure pump to transmit the fracturing shock hydraulically via the injected liquid. "Explosions" is one of his carefully planted scare words like "controversial" and "earthquake".

This bit rather let's the green cat out of the bag though:-

...they (environmentalists) also worry that an abundance of domestic gas will tempt politicians to abandon targets for cutting greenhouse gases

Why would this "abundance" of gas "tempt politicians" if , as Greenpeace allege in Harvey's piece above, it's going to be more expensive than the alternatives?

They've all reached the stage of spewing out desperate lies so fast that they contradict themselves.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Lucky the Icelanders don't have Ed Davey:

Over 400 earthquakes have been recorded in this man made swarm.

In fact I'm surprised the usual suspects haven't been to Iceland to stop them using their geothermal energy. Oh, I forgot, earthquakes are OK if they come from a renewable resource.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Seismic monitoring? Oh lovely...

I fully expect a whole new branch of elf 'n safertree twerpery to be launched off the back of this.

Hi-viz brothel creeper seismic safety shoes with 100mm thick sponge soles the size of tennis rackets anybody? Mustn't disturb the highly sensitive earthworms.

The monumental stupidity of DECC is epic. P45 the lot of them ASAP

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomO

Fiona Harvey is a what you could call a re-reporter , in that she basically repeats anything feed to her from Greenpeace etc with out question and indeed without even engaging any common sense .

Has for the BBC messages on this , that shows how 'effective ' the meeting of the '28' really was in setting BBC policy . Want that to change , arrange some power shortages for the trendy bits of North London and watch them squeak.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Interesting observation from Tim Worstall at

@KnR. I suggest that the job title should be that of,"copy taker".

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

Ed Davey, erecting barricades in the path of an unstoppable juggernaut:-

"New controls announced for shale gas exploration "...................

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM Green Sand

I fully expect to see another one added when he's thought about it..........

"All proposals to be personally approved by prominent concerned citizen and leader of RAFF (Residents' Action on Fylde Fracking) Tina Rothery .............. (who, in her other life, is a "revolutionary poetess" and mainstay of the Occupy London movement - which curiously never gets mentioned in this context).

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

We usually watch Jeff Randall Live at 7pm each evening on Sky News. It's one of the few news programmes that isn't celebrity obsessed and Jeff Randall's interviewing style is a lesson to the Jon Snows of this world. On Tuesday he interviewed a lady from Greenpeace who was allowed to repeat the debunked claim that fracking causes flaming methane to spout from water taps. She also claimed that the process will use up scarce water supplies we need for drinking. Shame on you Jeff not to have anticipated these lies!

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

Harrabin's article quotes the same bogus out of date figures.
"a gas-based electricity system might cost people as much as £600 extra"

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

So, they start with an assumption that wholesale gas prices will rise by 27%, and then predict that household bills will rise.

I wonder if they've tried repeating the process, and this time assuming a fall in wholesale prices.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Conventional natural gas is stored in underground caverns. Drill into the cavern and out comes the gas. North sea , Gronigen ,Quatar etc.

Badly termed Unconventional natural gas is stored in a compressed sand sponge. Agitate the sponge and out comes the gas. It is called Unconventional because of the way it is held.

The actual gas produced is the same.

Moving on Methane Hydrate is gas stored in a sponge of ice. It is even more ubiquitous !!
Look at the map below and see who got lucky again.

Perhaps there is justice and ALL our Christmas have come at once .

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRiddi of England

Knowing the gas companies, a wholesale price fall of 4% will mean a rise in household bills of 27% too. Why change their habits?

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

bilbaoboy hopes to see fracking start in Spain.
It certainly won’t go ahead in France, where 20,000 demonstrators turned out to dissuade the government from even thinking about exploratory drilling, and public opinion automatically sides with any protesters against any government proposal whatsoever. Meanwhile the Greens are tabling a law before the European Parliament to ban any extraction of shale gas, by fracking or any other method.
The Green Party traditionally does well in Euro elections. We should start marshalling our arguments now for the Euro election campaign in 2014.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Fairly positive coments on shale gas on BBC news (channel 200 freesat) at 11.05 today and there should be more comments over the next hour from one remark I heard.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

Riddi, I don't know where you get your geological knowledge from. Conventional gas is not stored in underground caverns but in porous and permeable rocks such as poorly cemented sandstones etc. The oil and gas is retained in the reservoir rock and doesn't leak away because of the presence of natural traps as a result of structure (folding, doming, faults, salt diapirs etc.) which in effect covers the trap with an impermeable barrier.

Shale gas is found within organic rich, impermeable shales. The permeability of such deposits are very low with natural rates of advection and diffusion too slow for the gas to migrate out of the source rock to more suitable reservoir rocks. Fracking is an effective way of shortening the transport path for gas migration towards zones of high permeability from which it can be extracted.

Gas hydrates are another thing altogether and there are several companies actively examining the technology for extraction of gas from such hydrate deposits. e.g. Statoil.

I know what you were trying to say but stating that gas occurs in underground caverns is one of the myths that should not be further perpetrated. Others which annoy me are statements that the mantle is molten! The percentage of partial melt is actually very low.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Seismic monitoring? Oh lovely...

I fully expect a whole new branch of elf 'n safertree twerpery to be launched off the back of this.

Hi-viz brothel creeper seismic safety shoes with 100mm thick sponge soles the size of tennis rackets anybody? Shhh..mustn't disturb the highly sensitive earthworms.

The monumental stupidity of DECC coupled to their capture by eco-nuts is epic. P45 the lot of them ASAP

edit: I should add that DECC do not possess in any way, shape or form any requisite expertise to do the seismic monitoring or evaluate the results and will undoubtedly contract in some folk - who it has to be suspected will be not be selected on their technical merits and will very likely be academics with near zero practical seismic experience and appropriate "environmental credentials" BGS folk need not apply methinks.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Paul Dennis beat me to it.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

The BBC don't seem to get it that we won't have to worry about the price of gas on the European markets when we can supply ourselves. Also, if we sell some of it there, the prices will come down anyway.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Davey`s statement reads like a primer on the various ways opponents of fracking can object to and slow down the process of getting permission to explore for shale gas - despite conceding that all known objections have been shown to be either false or grossly overstated. Hopefully Cuadrilla will persist because of the work they have already done and investments already made. What will be instructive is the action of other exploration companies to navigate the thicket of regulations set up here in the UK.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Leo Hickman is examining the question “live” at`
and invites your comments

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

A slight correction Foxgoose. After drilling has been completed, the hole is lined with steel pipe. The pipe is perforated using packages of small explosive charges. Once it has been perforated, fracturing can proceed. So, explosives are used, but not for fracturing.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

What is this obsession with using gas for electricity?

I use it to cook my tea and heat my bathwater.
Can bloody windmills do that ?
What am I going to do, take my sausages over to a turbine and hope the increased kinetic energy of the local air will brown them ?

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

must be desperate - Caroline Lucas just on the BBC, reminding people of the CCC comittee and the climate change act. 'controversial' technique says the BBC presenter... only because the greenies have hype it up so.

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Quite apart from the shale gas potential and all the associated green madness, if Osborne really wanted to circumvent all the hurdles the greens throw at our domestic gas (and oil, for that matter) reserve potential, he could at a stroke reinvigorate development of a great many currently marginal or subcommercial conventional prospects and finds simply by easing their current tax regime burden.

'The current marginal tax rate is 81% on income from fields paying PRT, 30% on production income from qualifying new fields if that income is wholly covered by field allowance and 62% otherwise.'

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

For those of you who like to keep some ammo ready to fire at the doom-mongers, here's some info on seismic activity in the UK. Hardly a rarity going by these data.

Earthquakes around the British Isles in the last 50 days

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterGrumpyDenier

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