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« Biased BBC on Joe Smith | Main | Quantifying Uncertainties in Climate Science »
Monday
Dec032012

Crunch time for UK fracking

There was lots of action on the UK shale gas front over the weekend. The Telegraph carried an interview with the head of Cuadrilla who was keen to press ahead, but warned against delay:

We have proven that there is gas and that it will flow. In the three years we have been doing tests, they have drilled 60,000 wells in the US. We don't have infinite patience and our investors don't have infinite patience.

The suggestion that George Osborne is going to offer tax breaks to shale gas developments was also surprising. Given that oil and gas fields pay a supertax on top of corporation tax this probably makes sense.

Commenting favourably on the interview, shale gas expert Nick Grealy revealed that he has had early information about the results of the forthcoming estimates of the UK's shale gas resource.

Total UK resource estimate will be confirmed by DECC scientists, not Cuadrilla posturing. I've seen the logs: MONSTROUS

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    Response: VnCGfRQc
    - Bishop Hill blog - Crunch time for UK fracking

Reader Comments (114)

Can you clarify a point. What's monstrous, the Cuadrilla posturing or the size of the proven reserves?

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

Not wishing to reveal that I quite often read the Daily Mail (but don't share their views), it is irritating that every single time fracking is mentioned it is described as "the controversial process known as fracking" or similar. Every time.

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

@ Mike Fowle

Fracking is controversial because the Greens create a controversy over it.

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Roy: Fracking was not controversial for 60 years, until the greens discovered what the industry already knew; fracturing increases production and recoverable reserves.

Grumpy: One of the reasons I hate Twitter, is that the information exchange is limited to 140 characters. But, Grealy is refering to the logs, or the well wireline data, so he is describing the gas available as monstrous.

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

The Grealy twitters lead to a most interesting article at
http://www.nohotair.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2703:steel-yourself-uk-shale-gas-and-the-steel-industry&catid=64&Itemid=145
Shale gas and steel production are locked in a virtuous circle which is behind the revival of US industry. Here in France, shale gas and steel are locked in a battle for the hearts and dead brains of the Greens and far left “ecosocialists” who form the effective opposition to the centre left government. Expect fireworks.

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The headline on last night's Indie web page was subtitled along the lines of "... a process that causes earthquakes and water pollution. If the vehemence of the commenters is any guide, I'd say Fracking's going to have a very hard time. I hope not.

Incidentally, as noted by Christopher Booker, when announcing his energy policy, all Mr Davey could say about gas was that it was becoming more difficult to get and more expensive. How else could he justify the punishment to be inflicted on us?

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK

Not wishing to be seen to agree with the Daily Mail but there is a reason why they describe it as "controversial" - and that is because it is. Whatever Mr Osborne and Mr Egan would have you believe, this process carries risks that are potentially very serious indeed. With the current state of regulation for on-shore gas to describe the process as "controversial" must be the understatement of the year. What should make it even more controversial is when we all wake up and realise that we are subsidising it because it can't stand on its own two feet, whilst the profits will flow to parent companies in Australia and the Cayman Islands.

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterRefracktion

Sounds a bit like wind energy technology, Refracktion. Why isn't that described as controversial?

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Refracktion, would you care to clarify any of that?
In what way are we subsidising it? I am assuming that you're not equating tax exemptions (of whatever form they take) as a subsidy (of comparable nature to ROCs or FITs)?
Where do you see the controversy? As far as I can see it's controversial because it has the potential to deliver decades worth of affordable gas to the consumer, which doesn't sit well with the projections on wind which rely on gas becoming ever more expensive over time.
Which process risks are you concerned about? The widely ridiculed burning tap syndrome or the massive earthquake potential which could, as far as I understand it, be almost as severe as an eighteen wheeler driving past the front of your house.

A little clarity on what you believe the issues are might serve to add weight to your position.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

@Refraction. From your comments I take it that you are in favour of higher energy bills and dead pensioners?

Because that is where "renewables" are taking us.

Take a look at the U.S. where shale gas has halved domestic fuel bills.

Frack and save lives.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

According to Mrs B, Roger Harrabin was denigrating "controversial" fracking on Radio 4 this morning. All those nasty chemicals they inject into the ground. Dihydrogen monoxide is very dangerous; millions of people are killed by it every year; it should be banned as a dangerous pollutant. I'm also told it's a potent greenhouse gas and therefore it is an atmospheric pollutant as well. It means we will cross a tipping point and we'll all die. Perhaps it should all be injected into the ground where it can't do any harm. Oh no, that is fracking and we can't do that. We're all doomed, doomed I tell you.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Heat or eat? To frack or not to frack?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/dec/02/families-ration-fuel-energy-prices

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Refracktion

I disagree! There, a controversy has been created by Fracking!! Whoopie, easy peasy japaneasie! The usless scientific community, pressurised by the Greenalist lobby groups et al, & the wets in Guvment, make it controversial because all there efforts to take us back to the Dark-Ages, Stone-Age, Fuedalism, & poverty, will have been for nothing, & that is why it is so "controversial". Standard Socialist tactics, create doubt, questions, fear, & "controversy"! Anybody worrying about a seismic event of 0.5 on the Richter -Scale, something that Fracking has yet to achieve, will worry themselves to death in anticiapion, they happen all the time even here in the UK, just ask the British Geological Survey! Oh & just to prevent any ad homs against this humble engineer, I do really believe (tee hee) that these sub 0.5 tremors are causes by CO2, honest guv, [ ;-) ]

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

It is spelled fraccing.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenter123

Refraction seems to have got his knickers in a twist and is ranting about every conceivable point of opposition (from his perspective). Take "profits will flow to parent companies in the Cayman Islands or Australia" - get real, this is globalisation whether we like it or not. How many other companies, including utilities, are owned by foreign companies? Answer: plenty. It's irrelevant.

I note that Dispatches this evening is running a programme about the Chinese coming to town and buying up significant shareholdings in Uk businesses. I shall be interested to watch it, but remembering my point above. Think Tata Steel owning Land Rover. French ownership of water companies. Etc.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

Fraccing or fracking- both should be acceptable to saxons or celts, to whom the k and c are interchangable. (Like picniccing/picnicking.) Take your choice.

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergnome

Nick Grealy, shale gas expert? Who has given him this label?
Cuadrilla claims are made with commercial interest but if there was little gas they would go elsewhere and not pay the UK tax. We need fracking to start ASAP.

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Fracing is how its spelled in the oilfield. But, as it is a contraction of "fracturing", it should be spelled "frac'ing" for present tense, or "frac'ed" for past tense.

And thus ends my contribution to pedantry.....

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

A couple of links to frac your appetites:

http://www.nohotair.co.uk/

http://exploreshale.org/

http://www.api.org/~/media/Files/Policy/Exploration/HYDRAULIC_FRACTURING_PRIMER.pdf

I suspect Refracktion has a ready supply of free heat, food, and sundrey other goodies, as do all those who do not live in the real world.

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterEl Sabio

Does anyone have a link to a reasoned look at the numbers involved in Frac(ck)ing in the UK. My main issue is that the 2 'sides' use numbers not even close to each other. Surely the UK with it's existing gas infrastructure and high dependency in both domestic use and power generation would be the ideal location to set up quickly if we do have large reserves. I have seen counter arguments from very experienced people that cast some doubt on how useful shale reserves are. Surely someone could come up with a ballpark figure that with x reserves and y selling price shale gas would definitely be profitable for a company for z years and generate ? amount of gas.

The oildrum is a good source for a lot of this info, you just have to dodge all the survivalists posts....

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Very disappointing to see, on a news-stand, December's issue of National Geographic showing large pictures of flaming taps in an article trailed on the front as 'The Truth about Fracking' (p90 or thereabouts).

Bought a NG sub for a family member last year. Shan't be renewing it ...

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Clearly what is needed is for politicians to be given millions of pounds in shares etc to encourage them to have an interest in fracking, much the sane way as they have an interest in wind power.

Mailman

Dec 3, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Will common sense prevail? let us hope so. The fact the Grauniad has mentioned the impact on the poor might mean the BBC pick this up! If the guvment don't allow fracking then it will be a clear sign that they do wish to punish us (for our sins against the planet). I don't know about you but I am not going to take my punishment without a fight. And judging by the comments from my fellow citizens on many of the blogs that is a feeling that is widespread.

Carthago delenda est

Dec 3, 2012 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

I would have thought that sending men underground to dig for coal could be described as 'controversial'..
Oh - I see - we've been doing it worldwide for hundreds of years so that makes it ok...
I would have thought that allowing millions of untrained adults to self-load a HIGHLY inflammable fuel into their vehicles every day could be described as 'controversial'..
But - hey - we've been doing it for a century so THAT makes it ok...
Do you follow my argument..?

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I takes a simple mind, in or out of politics, to suppose that the only social gains to derive from commercial production take the form of wages to employees or taxes to government (if the profits are not passed to greedy and underserving shareholders, such as pension funds). The clue is in the name: marketable goods are called 'goods' because... .

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

Rob Burton: Natural Gas (NG) is selling in the UK for over 11 USD per MMBTU. In the US, its selling for about 3.50 per MMBTU. It was under 2 for a short while.

The UK is similar to the US for natural gas infrastucture It's already in place, very little would need to be added.

Thus, one could assume that it would be viable to drill in the UK. At the very least, UK gas would displace some imports. Thats the worst case. I am assuming that companies like Cuadrilla has done its homework, and there is enough gas for the company to make money.

Best case is that the price of NG follows the trajectory of the US, and falls by a factor of 3 or 4.

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

Of course, it will take longer to develop than in the US. Mostly because of property laws and environmental regulations.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324355904578155591443631854.html

Dec 3, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

A
Planning laws seem to be the favoured way of slowing things down in the UK.
Using them it can take 5 or even 10 years, if appealed, to get a single well bored.
In any case, I think you should go have a look at how the extraction is going in the states...it seems that some boreholes in the Brakken field are already losing production quantity.
And do not forget, as the yield increases the price drops, and in the US it is now so low that prospecting is slowing down considerably.
The UK may also face the prospect that they may be required to sell their production abroad rather than have lower UK prices.
Low prices = low taxes.

Dec 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnM

Nick has clarified his earlier Tweet:

Nick Grealy ‏@ShaleGasExpert

Let me make this absolutely clear: The Bowland Shale is a world class, globally significant gas field

@Rob Burton
I will give you a ball park figure for the Bowland Shale, this is not guesswork this is logic:

The Bowland Shale has at least 1,000 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in place.
Expect recovery rates to eventually rise to 40% or higher.
The Bowland Shale also contains very large amounts of oil which can not yet be quantified.
Bowland is just one of many shale deposits in the UK.

@JohnM

You are spreading disinformation
ALL shale gas wells are subject to falling production rates but they go on producing for many many years. If you need to boost production you just refrack and hey presto the rate is back up again.
Production from shale is not like production from a conventional gas field which is a reservoir.
The flow from a shale field is based on hundreds of wells within the area and Cuadrilla plan 800 wells in Lancashire. It does not matter much if some wells slow down as long as they keep producing.

800 wells sounds pretty bad but each well could be easily hidden behind a few bushes and would not be an eyesore like a wind turbine.

There are two reasons why the price of gas dropped in the US; firstly their economy could not adjust fast enough to absorb the increased production and secondly they had no facilities to liquify gas and export it. Both of the problems are being addressed and you may have noticed Shall announcing today that they will be producing more LNG to supply the needs of all the trucks and ships that the US are now converting to run on LNG. All the gas companies in the US are hanging on because they know a bonanza is on the way and yes prices will rise a bit.

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Registered CommenterDung

ups sorry, posted twice

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Registered CommenterDung

For those who would like to see seismic activity in the UK while fracking is not under-way, the British Geological Survey site shows the last 50 days.

In fact, it may be a good idea to keep the odd screen shot before 'homogenisation' adjustments cause reductions in past activity.

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

So Mr Grealy has 4 years' experience in shale gas. Interesting how long it takes to become an "expert" (if only self proclaimed) these days... The professional equivalent of grade inflation, I think.

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB, this is arguments: complaints is next-door.

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Barbara

I'd be very grateful if someone could make methane came out of my tap for nothing - it'd be driving a generator in the back yard and heating the house.

Fracc away!

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

BB

Do not underestimate Nick Grealy, he has worked in the gas industry for a lot longer than 4 years. 4 years ago virtually nobody outside the USA had heard of fracking although many were aware of shale, there was just no way to make use of shale until fracking was developed.
It would also appear that less than half a dozen people in government knew much about UK shale until the last few months.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:34 PM | ssat

Interesting link. Five of the 9 tremors in the UK in the last 50 days are over M2.0 ie at least four times as strong as the little Cuadrilla tremblers.

Where are all the enviros running round demanding these tremors be stopped?

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

LOL - been travelling all day and just got to my hotel - OK a response to some of those points :

"Sounds a bit like wind energy technology, Refracktion. Why isn't that described as controversial?"

To some it possibly is - what's your point there TheBigYinJames? Did I say wind was the answer to everything - I don't think I did.

Steve W asks "In what way are we subsidising it? I am assuming that you're not equating tax exemptions (of whatever form they take) as a subsidy (of comparable nature to ROCs or FITs)?"

If Osborne gives it tax breaks that equates to subsidising it - is that so hard to see? You can play at semantics as much as you like. Giving government money away to encourage investment equals a subsidy.

and Steve continues "Where do you see the controversy? As far as I can see it's controversial because it has the potential to deliver decades worth of affordable gas to the consumer, which doesn't sit well with the projections on wind which rely on gas becoming ever more expensive over time."

Well, one reason it's controversial is because of the exaggerated claims made about it. For example people who don't seem to have done sufficient research make unsupportable claims about decades of gas when the current official data from the BGS talks about a total of only 1.5 years supply recoverable over several decades. OK, the new report due out soon may increase that but it will be just as much of a guess as the first estimate - just based on different engineering data. And then there's "affordable" - nobody who does that research believes that shale will have a significant downward impact on energy prices so when people like Don witter on about "dead pensioners" they are just demonstrating the fact that they can't be bothered to research the facts. Before you respond with the US$2 gas price, again do some research. Fracking companies are haemorrhaging money at that price and shutting down production as a result. It will rise again shortly. Sorry Don but it's the truth - ask Deutsche Bank or the CBI. Shale gas in the UK is not going to keep your granny alive. It seems some people on here even claim they people who oppose fracking think that "these sub 0.5 tremors are causes by CO2". Nobody in their right mind would suggest that - it hardly seems worth responding to such inanity. Why can people who support shale gas not argue based on research instead of schoolboy style playground taunts? It's quite depressing to see the level of debate from some of the pro-frackers. Honestly, some of the comments here today make Nick Grealy look like a intellectual heavyweight and that really is quite an achievement :-)

The main controversy really though is around health issues and the potential impact on the environment and the amenity value of the local area which may be caused by a relatively unproven technology - horizontal hydraulic fracturing. These do need to be balanced against what look like a very tenuous benefits case for the local area and the UK as a whole. THAT is what makes it controversial. These may not be serious issues to you, but they are to me because I live in the area.

Steve W again "Which process risks are you concerned about? The widely ridiculed burning tap syndrome or the massive earthquake potential which could, as far as I understand it, be almost as severe as an eighteen wheeler driving past the front of your house."

Well maybe you should ask my near neighbour who tells me he was standing on a ladder when the tremor hit and only just hung on, and has had cracks appear in his house as a result of the tremor. He's not the only one of course but you don't read about that in the papers for some reason. Maybe 18 wheelers crack houses as well do they? As to "massively ridiculed methane in water" ask yourself why Cuadrilla have changed their statement about the impossibility of water contamination from methane on their web site. Read their site now. However hard the industry tries to debunk the constantly emerging evidence coming from the States and elsewhere it just keeps coming. Here's a challenge for you all - watch Truthland - the industry's answer to Gasland and don't laugh once all the way through. You won't be able to even if you do support fracking because it is simply so lame that it is sphincter clenchingly embarrassing to watch . If that's "massive ridicule" then bring it on - let's have plenty more of that because we could do with a laugh here on the Fylde :-)

Les Johnson says "I am assuming that companies like Cuadrilla has done its homework, and there is enough gas for the company to make money. " Well Les, you might assume that but it seem that neither Cuadrilla nor AJ Lucas have an real clue how much gas there may be to drill. This is a HUGE problem for them. The press at the weekend reported that

"Allan Campbell, AJ Lucas's CEO admitted to investors that the company cannot yet place a potential financial value on its assets in Lancashire: "The next stage of Bowland exploration and development has been carefully planned but, in reality, it is of little consequence in a value creation context until we can flow the wells, observe decline curves, and estimate the total recoverable resource etc … This cannot happen until we are given permission to recommence hydraulic fracturing activities.""

This lack of knowledge is, unsurprisingly placing acute financial pressure on them - it appears that they got into a problem with a sizeable unpaid tax bill with the ATO as a result. This, in my opinion, is why Cuadrilla are making threats to take their bat and ball away if Osborne doesn't give them what they want this week. (He will by the way)

And Grumpy, (bless him) says I seem to have got my knickers in a twist and am ranting about every conceivable point of opposition (from my perspective). "Take "profits will flow to parent companies in the Cayman Islands or Australia" - get real, this is globalisation whether we like it or not. How many other companies, including utilities, are owned by foreign companies? Answer: plenty. It's irrelevant."

Well you might think so Grumpy but Cuadrilla's CEO, Francis Egan , think it's important enough to try to persuade us that the money is coming to Lancashire and not Australia /Cayman in an interview in the Telegraph at the weekend where he said

“I was on the Tube in London the other day,” he says, beginning the argument. “There was an advertisement that said 'Britain is powered by Statoil’. Good luck to Statoil, but wouldn’t you rather the money was going to Lancashire instead of contributing to the Norwegian wealth fund?”

Lancashire? As if - but he obviously needs us to believe that to try to quell the growing tide of discontent. Unfortunately for him we know better because we know who bankrolls his company and who will get the rewards and it certainly isn't Lancashire.

If this thing were worth doing we should nationalise the shale gas assets and make sure that ALL the revenues came to the benefit of UK plc. As it is it seems the government are intent on making sure that a few people get very rich very quick at the expense of the area where I live. From a rational perspective it makes no sense to enrich an Australian Mining Company and a Cayman Island based investment vehicle by despoiling an arable area and turning it into an industrial area. If the upside is mainly for foreign investors and not the UK economy why on earth are you lot all so much in favour of it? It's not going to do much for any of us here in terms of a financial return. We still end up paying foreign compnaies, just different ones, but this time it's for our own gas. That's a neat trick isn't it!

Anyway - it's been a long day. I hope I have answered your questions :-)

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRefracktion

Refracktion

'If the upside is mainly for foreign investors and not the UK economy why on earth are you lot all so much in favour of it? It's not going to do much for any of us here in terms of a financial return. We still end up paying foreign compnaies, just different ones, but this time it's for our own gas. That's a neat trick isn't it!'

Replace the word gas with renewable energy and it reads the same, except with gas you get lower bills.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Just one remaining question, Refraction.
Are you still taking your medication?

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Refracktion: why on earth are you lot all so much in favour of it? Sceptics and Deniers are against any power source that doesn't involve burning coal, oil or gas, but they have a slight problem. Oil is so expensive that anyone owning a supply of it would rather sell it, not burn it; coal is dirty, even for fossil-heads and people get killed digging it up. That leaves gas, but sadly it is largely imported and its price is not under S&D control. The prospect of a large source of supposedly cheap gas is thus manna from heaven.

Of course gas is easily exported and so the price that any shale gas might fetch will be much the same as the price of imports. US-style price drops are unlikely in the UK. But that doesn't really matter and in fact is an advantage. S&D can claim that stubbornly high gas prices are the fault of greens/the BBC/politicians/you-name-it, who have sacrificed shale's potential on the alter of their hated AGW. In other words, they don't need the dream to be true, it is just a useful mirage with which to attack renewables.

Dec 4, 2012 at 1:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Refracktion

What is your response to the poll by a Blackpool newspaper which said that roughly two thirds of the local population were in favour of shale gas getting the go ahead?

You suggest that the Bowland shale play can only satisfy UK gas needs for 1.5 years based on the out of date BGS survey. You appear to have absolutely no idea of the potential of the Bowland Shale.
Every year people die in the oil industry and the coal industry and the Gas industry and you want to stop shale gas because your friend almost fell off a ladder (so he says ^.^).
Nobody wants deaths or injuries in whatever industries they work in but so far man has not been able to make everything risk free.
Who will get the rewards?
All the people in Lancashire who get well paid jobs will be very happy, the government will have a nice tax take and if the company is based in another country and benefits in that country then good luck to them. The balance of payments will benefit, All our industries will benefit from cheaper energy (not as cheap as the current US costs but still cheaper) and so will the freezing Grannies.

BB

Really disappointed with your post mate.

Dec 4, 2012 at 2:12 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Refracktion,

Your comment raises several points:

Subsidies. - Leaving aside your somewhat strange definition of what makes a subsidy, the only such “subsidies” that might apply in the case of fracked gas are the reduction in VAT that applies to all energy production across the board no matter what it’s source (including renewables) and the reduction given in certain circumstances in the Supplementary Charge, which is a special tax levied only on oil and gas companies anyway (which renewables don‘t pay at all). These “subsidies” aren’t given because those receiving them are unable to stand on their own two feet at all, far from it. They’re given to encourage investment. The government knows that by so doing they are ensuring both continuation of supply and increased tax take further down the line. I don’t think it’s SteveW that’s playing semantics here.

Environmental damage and health concerns. - For the past two years I’ve been looking for conclusive evidence of either. With the exception of one Pennsylvania case that remains unclear, I’ve yet to find any. I see lots of claims. I see lots of so-called scientific reports into claims. On further inspection though, in every single instance I’ve come across, it turns out that not only are these reports full of the usual terms like if, might and possibly, but that they’re actually prepared by activist anti-fracking groups in the first place. Now, depending on which sources you read, fracking has been carried out in the US for the last 40 to 60 years. Lately, on a very large scale. I would have thought that any real, serious concerns with real, serious evidence to back them up would have come to light by now. Having said that, obviously all the necessary checks and measures to ensure safety would need to be in place and ongoing. And all claims rigorously investigated. Just the same as with just about any other industry you care to mention. I don’t see a problem with that. As for the earthquakes, of the two that were reported, one was 2.3 and the other 1.4 on the Richter Scale, you’d barely feel them. So forgive me if I’m a little sceptical that your neighbour was nearly thrown off his ladder. Also, the reason there were no press reports on the damage is simply that there wasn’t any. If there had been, I’m reasonably certain the press would have been over it like a rash. Perhaps the cracks your friend discovered were already there and he only found them because he was actually looking for them. Again, I see no problem with ongoing vigilance and investigation.

Price. - The price of gas in the US dropped as low as $2 MMBTU. Agreed, that price is unsustainable and, as Les Johnson has already pointed out, is already recovering. Expect it to eventually go as high as $7 or even $8. Which will give the frackers some profit but will still be 30% less than we currently pay over here. Something else that needs to be borne in mind is that it’s not just the UK that’s looking at fracking. Other countries are too. Lots of them. One way or the other, there is going to be a worldwide glut of gas. At some point over the next decade the price is likely to drop like a stone. The effect of that won’t be pretty within the industry but, as it always does with any commodity, eventually the price worldwide will settle to a level that allows the fracking companies that survive long enough to make some profit, albeit probably smaller than they hoped. It will mean much smaller profits too for the companies currently producing gas conventionally. Even in a worse case scenario where the fracked gas in this country only lasts a decade or so and it does nothing more than peg the price at current levels, it would still be worth trying. So we can either do as you and BitBucket would seem to prefer and ignore the whole thing and get left behind as the world moves on, or we can get in now and reap some of the benefits for ourselves. Cuadrilla is but one company. There will be others involved both home grown and from abroad. Wherever they happen to be based, some of the money they make will go to pay British workers for jobs they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Some of the money they make will go to the British Treasury in the form of taxes. And some of the gas they produce will be sold to power companies here in Britain and at a likely cheaper rate than they currently pay, leading to cheaper power bills for all of us. Even if only slightly cheaper. Dunno about you, but that’s good enough for me.

Finally, please don’t assume that no-one here does any research. Some of us do a lot, lot more than just visit sites such as Frack-Off ;-)

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:26 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Dung,

Don't waste your time with BitBucket mate. He's not really interested in any form of proper engagement. He doesn't come here to make points, he comes here to score them. No matter what you say to him, his opinion of all here, the way we think and what we think is set in stone.

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:35 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Steve J - At least any investment in renewable has a potentially permanent result, not just a few years
Don K - see what I mean about the childish comments - grow up mate
Dung - the survey wasn't by a newspaper it was by Cuadrilla and it did NOT suggest that "roughly two thirds of the local population were in favour of shale gas getting the go ahead" it actually suggested that a majority did not support shale gas. I made it quite clear that I am aware that the BGS will up their estimate if you bother to read my post. The rest of your post really isn't worth bothering with as it is even less based on reality
Laurie's is slightly more considered post but it seems you have never heard of the industry having to tanker in water to to affected people and you can't have heard of their NDAs either. You also appear to have fallen for the industry's favourite line that they have been fracking safely for 60 years. If I had a quid for ever time I've heard or read that I could afford to move out of the area.Maybe check out the difference between vertical and horizontal fracking before you make sarcy comments about people only reading frack-off my friend.

It's been educational seeing how ferociously people with set ideas will defend the industry line in spite of the evidence.

Dec 4, 2012 at 6:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRefracktion

Refracktion: your

.Maybe check out the difference between vertical and horizontal fracking before you make sarcy comments about people only reading frack-off my friend.

This shows the state of your knowledge about fracturing. There is absolutely no difference in the fracture itself. The only difference is in the well bore and how it intersects the fracture plane. A fracture propagates 90 degrees away from the direction of the least principle stress. In all but the most shallow wells, this means the fracture propagates in a penny shape, until it reaches a barrier.

The fracture itself will have exactly the same size and shape, regardless if the well is vertical or horizontal.

And, yes, fracturing has been done safely since the late 1940s. I know of zero instances of contamination of surface waters via fracturing.

If you have any examples of a fracture contaminating surface waters, I would be happy to investigate that.

Dec 4, 2012 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

Refracktion,

If you’re referring to the Dimock PA case, then, yes I’m aware of drinking water being tankered in by whichever gas company it was that was operating in the area when residents claimed their water had been contaminated. Remind me, what was the eventual outcome of that case? The EPA itself went in and tested the water. What did they find? Surely not that the water was actually safe to drink and that there was no evidence of contamination? Are there other cases that I’ve missed? As for the NDAs, sure, I’ve read the accusations that they are being used to hush things up. Got a link to an actual case where this can be shown to have happened? And I haven’t fallen for any “industry’s favourite line” at all (you really don‘t understand sceptics do you?). I merely pointed out that, in all that time, no actual, solid, quantifiable evidence has ever been produced to show that the process causes the pollution you claim it to. Now, do I think these companies are as pure as the driven snow and above reproach? No. Of course not. But nor do I think they are all evil and willing to do whatever it takes, including poisoning people, to make a quick buck. That said, there will always be instances of corner cutting or slipshod practices. That’s why we have regulatory bodies and this being the UK, rather than the US, I’m very sure there will be plenty of enthusiastic inspectors looking over their shoulders. I know the differences between horizontal and vertical fracking thanks, though I'm not sure what difference you think that makes.

It's been educational seeing how ferociously people with set ideas will defend the industry line in spite of the evidence.

Ferociously??? Sorry but I’ve a job seeing any comment in this thread as ferocious. Set ideas? Mmm, projecting much? Evidence? You keep talking about evidence but you haven’t actually given us any.

Dec 4, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

It's been educational seeing how ferociously people with set ideas will defend the industry line in spite of the evidence.

Evidence?! Did someone mention "evidence"?! Funny, I've been getting caught up on various threads here. And this one, I found particularly amusing.

You see, someone I hadn't encountered before had marched in, dropped a rather obscure piece of bait earlier in the day and eventually returned to leave us with a solid wall of text in which s/he made a number of assertions - yet, for some strange reason s/he failed to provide a scintilla of, well, verifiable evidence in support of these assertions.

In effect, s/he left us with what was tantamount to a rather pompously delivered sermon from the mount, from someone who obviously values her/his own opinions and authority - quite possibly far beyond their worth.

OTOH, I subsequently saw a number of well-argued responses from people who have established their bona fides here.

This individual would be well advised to seriously consider the advice of Laurie Childs [Dec 4, 2012 at 5:26 AM]:

please don’t assume that no-one here does any research. Some of us do a lot, lot more than just visit sites such as Frack-Off ;-)

Dec 4, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Laurie, sorry I didn't see your comment till after I'd posted mine, which now seems quite redundant ;-)

Dec 4, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary,

No worries. Whilst I was typing my comment out, Les posted his comment, which made part of mine redundant too :-) Still, Refracktion will no doubt see it as confirmation of his/her accusation that we are all just defending the industry line and, moreover, that we are most likely getting paid to do it ;-)

Dec 4, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

@Refraction, I was contemptuously dismissive of you because you had nothing constructive to say.
You simply wheeled out the kind of verbose and fatuous arguments that the likes of BitBucket regularly visit upon us.
If and when you learn to make a reasoned argument, with verifiable facts, rather than "my mate almost fell off his ladder", then you will get a much better hearing here.

Dec 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

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