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Davey demands less gas

According to a story in the FT, George Osborne wanted to release the British Geological Survey report on shale gas in time for the budget.

Apparently Ed Davey decided to ask the BGS to rework the numbers.

...the energy department is understood to have asked it to redo its calculations, a process that is taking several months. A final report is still a few weeks away and could see a downward revision to the estimates.

Now why would Ed Davey want the shale gas estimates to be lowered?

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Reader Comments (42)

Also, how does Davey know the original estimate was too high?

Apr 28, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

This is a subject that is getting distinctly smelly… obviously of fish, as the other pile could give us too much methane (i.e. some methane as it is obvious that any methane is too much methane for these people). Why is this government so fearful of its citizens getting cheap, reliable energy?

Apr 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Because he (Davey) is a cheating, green fascist.
Apologies for the multiple tautologies.

Apr 28, 2013 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"Committed" in more than one sense, I suspect.

Apr 28, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

It's behind the paywall!

Apr 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered Commenteraq42


Having read the origins of the quote you… erm, quote… it was an answer to a heavily loaded question. It might be reasonable to suggest that Davey’s answer was an attempt to convince JugglingFromHereToThere to side with Davey (Conservative – “the Blues”!) rather than the Greens.

... it might be reasonable... but then, DK might be right.

Apr 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

There must be money somewhere in Davey's procrastinations - directly or more probably indirectly. No Lib Dim has any commitment to anything except personal advancement.
He'll be quoting Ehrlich and Lewandowski next.

Apr 29, 2013 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

We'll have to see how things look after next Thursday.

It may just be that Cameron suddenly decides some serious strategic re-evaluation needs to take place...

Apr 29, 2013 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterCatweazle

Ed would have a real problem if he used pragmatism to guide his actions.
He would be ostracized by his pals and would suffer socially!

Apr 29, 2013 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

No doubt he read the Noddy books at some stage too - oh gawd ... I just realised - the Nissan Leaf ... he's getting a ministerial convertible one in a Noddy colour scheme ..

There seems a never ending procession of ill informed toxic twerps appointed to DECC

Apr 29, 2013 at 1:28 AM | Registered Commentertomo

For as long as the Tories remain in a coalition with the Lib Dems their hands are tied:

They can not leave the EU
They can not withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights
They can not get rid of Davey
They can not repeal the Climate Change Act

So remind me, why are they still in a coalition?

Apr 29, 2013 at 2:33 AM | Registered CommenterDung

From the 2010 Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement:
"In pursuit of the parties' policies on creation of a "a low carbon and eco-friendly economy", a range of measures would be adopted."

I see no mention of gas in the agreement. Gaseous hydrocarbons contain less carbon per Joule of energy obtained upon combustion than is yielded by heavier oils and coal. The agreement also agrees to "instruct Ofgem to establish a security guarantee of energy supplies." So what is Ed Davey's problem?

Apr 29, 2013 at 4:02 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It's just like the EU. Keep sending it back until you are given the correct answer.

Apr 29, 2013 at 7:31 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Back in 2011 Ed Davey tried to downplay hopes of a shale gas in the UK.

“It is not the golden goose. The experts are clear that they do not expect this to have a major impact on the gas price.”

In fairnes to Ed at the time he was told that shale gas volumes were 5.3 trillion cubic feet.

The British Geological Survey is understood to have increased dramatically its official estimate of the amount of shale gas to between 1,300 trillion and 1,700 trillion cubic feet.

Looks like he can't now kill the "golden goose" but he might be able to reduce it size a little bit

Apr 29, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

We need to vote out the LibDems as soon as possible!

Apr 29, 2013 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Now why would a UK energy minister be so reluctant to reveal we're sat on top of decades (or more) of cheap, accessible and obviously home-grown energy?

Secuirty of supply, price stability and blow me, it's even 'lower carbon' than coal. Never mind what's not to like, this should be the green light to a revolution. I suspect there's only one reason why Davey is playing so unreasonably difficult; the likely severe impact shale would have on his beloved 'renewables'.

No matter. When he's gone sense will eventually prevail sooner or later. His malicious procrastination will cost him his reputation.

Apr 29, 2013 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

You must remember these people have been indoctrinated with the belief that CO2 emissions will cause CAGW so must be stopped at all cost. Also that the UK has to set an example to the rest of the World by de-industrialising.

That Davey's brother apparently gets paid by the industry may be relevant.

Apr 29, 2013 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

Can it be, that politics has again raised its head in the DECC?

Perverse is it not, that current climate change minister - another dullard named Ed Davey can believe all of the nebulous scientific BS emanating from the likes of the UEA, the Met Office, the IPCC and whoever else champions and advocates that MMCO2 = runaway global warming. Such organisations, who use what must seem even to his untrained mind - like some fantastical projections.

In stark contrast, Davey indeed the whole green lobby appear totally unreasonable, just when some figures turn up from the BGS - he sends them away to be doctored ......ah, ooh - measured anew.

Apr 29, 2013 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I wonder if the recent appointment of Peter Lilley to the Conservative policy advice team will help?

"Mr Cameron's new Conservative parliamentary advisory board on policy will balance the experience of MPs such as Peter Lilley - who served in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet - with prominent roles for several younger backbenchers"

Apr 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

In fact Cameron can get rid of Davey, though it might be politically tricky.
The Prime Minister is responsible for re-shuffling his Cabinet and though Clegg might whine a bit and threaten, Lear-like, to "do such things, I know not what they will be but they will be the terrors of the earth", at the end of the day if Cameron says, "I want someone in there with his head on straight who is going to keep the lights on and Britain solvent", there is precious little Clegg can do about it.
Whether Cameron has the guts to do that or even the nous I am beginning to doubt.

Marginally off-topic, if Cameron really wants to change the game he need to exile both Osborne and, more especially, Letwin to some remote outpost. Lundy comes to mind, or possibly Tiree if he's feeling kind.

Apr 29, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I've been looking at the Harribin item on the BBC website: the image is instructive -- if you carefully examine the size of the rig it seems to be less than 100ft tall and will only be there for a short time. Compare that to a 300ft turning windmill which is there for 25 years and the contrast is rather stark.

Where's the advantage to the Cons of letting the Libs hold back cheap energy? Maybe the answer is that they're saving the clash until the next general election. The headlines in the Telegraph will write themselves: 'Tory party votes for cheap energy, LibDems oppose' sort of stuff. 'Gas prices will fall to one third. Balance of payments will improve. Industrial renaissance in NW.'

Presumably the other, less committed newspapers will then blaze away with 'party political advantage considered more important than lifting UK out of recession two years early'. (No, I'm joking, the MSM journalists are far too compliant/dim/uninquisitive to suss out any such thing).

Geologists seem to have more guts than the average scientist, let alone the tame chicken littles employed by GreenPeace/FOE/WWF. The odds are that they are being conservative in their leaked estimate of 1.7*10^12 cubic ft. Wouldn't it be fun if they upped it in the revision demanded by their political masters.


Apr 29, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

I think the "revision" is likely result in more emphasis on the potential amount which might be recovered.
I suspect the amount that is under the ground will not change very much or may increase

Apr 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hampshire

Peter Lilley should sit Ed Davey down and show him the FrackNation DVD (he has 3 copies at his disposal). That would demonstrate to Davey that the 'environmental' objection to fracking is manufactured.

Apr 29, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I suspect that as far as shale is concerned, the "we must get rid of the mediaeval warm period" gambit is in play.
"We must downplay the effect of shale if we're to continue coining the subsidies from these useless windmills." That sort of thing. Never underestimate the deviousness of a man who sees an arm stretching out to turn off the money tap.

The point we often fail to grasp is that Davey doesn't care if the environmental objections are manufactured or not. Never, ever lose sight of the one simple fact that none of this — renewable energy, windmills, shale, climate change, CO2 — has anything whatever to do with science or rational thinking. It is purely religio-political (or do I mean politico-religious?).
The eco-warriors believe that civilisation is bad and therefore anything that underpins civilisation, like cheap efficient available energy, must also be bad.
Start from that point and you start to understand why we are where we are.

Apr 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

So remind me, why are they still in a coalition?

Apr 29, 2013 at 2:33 AM | Dung

The answer is that the Conservatives in the cabinet like being in office even if they are not really in power, to paraphrase something that Norman Lamont said after he was sacked by John Major.

The decision by the coalition to set fixed terms for parliament was a big mistake. The Lib Dems can and are preventing anything being done on many issues of interest to the British people.

The Mail on Sunday suggested yesterday that it would be possible to trigger a general election, despite the law fixing the term of parliament, if Cameron and the Conservatives in the cabinet resigned. Presumably the Queen would then have to ask Nick Clegg to try and form a government and, if he failed, a general election would be held. However, there would be a risk that Clegg could succeed in forming a government for the rest of this parliamentary term. If Ed Miliband did not feel confident about winning a snap general election he might decide either to form a temporary coalition with Clegg or to prop up a minority Lib-Dem government for as long as it served the interests to the Labour Party to support it.

Therefore I fear we will be stuck with this lot of politicians for another two years. Perhaps UKIP will take advantage of the situation by campaigning against the Climate Change Act and will make the case for cheaper, reliable energy.

Apr 29, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I haven't been able to verify the exact dates, but it is likely that Ed Davey and Gavin Schmidt knew each other at Jesus College, Oxford as undergraduates in the mid-1980s. Davey became president of the JCR, which is a quite high profile appointment and read PPE. Schmidt read Mathematics.

Jesus College also brought you Sir John Houghton - who started off the whole CAGW shebang in the first place. (*) And Lord (John) Krebs...member of the government's Climate Change Committee is the current principal.

For a relatively small College it has a lot to answer for..........

(*).'We have to announce disasters or nobody will listen'

Apr 29, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Davey is worse than Huhne.
The BGS report would have shown a very conservative gas figure since certainty of gas volumes are difficult to estimate but if US fracking is anything to go by you find more than you think is there.
Davey wants a figure to show it is not any use fracking so continue with his useless windmills.

Apr 29, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Only one comment under the FT article at present, (from Nick Grealy of Nohotair) and a rather astute one at that

'Although the BGS survey is turning into the Mystery of Edwin Drood of UK shale, or the unicorn of UK energy policy, there is of course only one way to settle this one way or the other.
In oil and gas exploration, the greatest lie detector is the drill bit. Too many people seek to reject what we haven't discovered - or not. Let's not put the production cart before the exploration horse.'

Apr 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Neil Hampshire wrote

I think the "revision" is likely result in more emphasis on the potential amount which might be recovered.
I suspect the amount that is under the ground will not change very much or may increase

There's an interesting quote from the Development Director (or somesuch title) of Cuadrilla, who reckons they'll get the same percentage recoverable as in the US as a first estimate. I'm surprised to see it's over 20%, not the conservative 10% that is usually asserted. ('More on UK Shale Gas' at No Hot Air blog).

So, 20% reserve (as a conservative figure) of 2000 trillion cubic ft of gas, at a UK consumption rate of 250*10^6 tonnes oil equivalent... wavey wave...

I make it total energy replacement, that's everything, for 300 years.

Have I got a decimal point wrong here? Would anyone turn down that chance who was in the least connected to reality? But I'm forgetting, it's politicians, Firsts in PPE from the old universities, people who have never.... rant froth, rave

Note from the Secretary to JF. He seems to have inadvertently turned into a large centipede and is unavailable for further comment.


Apr 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Why is he suggesting that the figures were wrong in the first place..?

Apr 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Maybe Davy learned at school that nice boys don't pass he won't pass it.

Apr 29, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

Cuadrilla had figures for their license area long before the BGS even woke up. 40% recovery increasing with improved technology was their educated opinion. They have now been waiting for over two years for permission to frack and produce and maybe Davey knows that they will not wait forever. The many others who would like to frack will not do so until they see a government which will support them. It all hangs on the government giving the go ahead to Cuadrilla.

Apr 29, 2013 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterDung

If fracking eventually results in a plentiful supply of cheaper gas meaning fewer old people will freeze to death in cold weather, could those who delayed fracking for no sound reason have those apparently preventable deaths forever linked to them?

It would be another reason why some would want to indirectly drive up the cost of those gas supplies.

Apr 29, 2013 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerekP

The low gas prices in the US came about because overproduction of fracked gas swamped a local market with little import or export capability. The result is that the gas companies are producing at a price which covers their operating costs, but is not going to recover their investment or pay for refracking. Look for bankruptcies in years to come.
The UK market is not comparable. Anyone expecting cheap fracked gas here is being optimistic.

Apr 30, 2013 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

With regards to price, any conclusion that Shale in the UK will not result in reduced prices is premature. Until the work is done to assess recoverable reserves it is a moot point.

For prices to fall you need an abundance of supply & preferably available substitutes. At present the UK is short of gas, is closing down coal fired power stations and has come out saying that it will not build new coal and will NOT get commercial enterprises to build new Nuclear. The North Sea is in terminal decline. The only thing that the UK seems to be willing to support (beyond talk) is renewables and they cant fill the supply gap. So all of this tells me that the initial problem to be addressed is to provide sufficient energy (in any form) to stop prices rising! And if there is a massive increase in supply from any of the sources above you may actually see the energy prices come down. Shale can potentially play a major role.

But before we count the chickens first exploration actually needs to happen. Mr Davey certainly dent appear to be in a hurry to make it happen.

Apr 30, 2013 at 2:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheAxe

Peter Lilley with what amounts to an forthright and public accusation of reprehensible conduct against Davey for demanding the Survey redo its reserve numbers, for promoting propaganda on non-existent environmental risks and for deliberately stalling the exploratory process.

Buy popcorn and stand by for the blowback.

Apr 30, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Entropic Man,
You still know better than the drilling companies, eh?

If they can't profit from how they see the market, why would they bother trying?

This stand-off is helping the nuclear industry drive a harder bargain (with the government). At least one of these energy suppliers will benefit in the long term. I have no huge preference for either one. I suspect you are antithetical to both.

Apr 30, 2013 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart

You are making the "rational decision" mistake. No single mind planned the US gas fracking boom. A large number of separate companies rushed to drill production capacity when the technology became available. Each saw itself as one of a small number of producers feeding a market short of gas, and profiting thereby. Put all of them together and what occured was a total potential output far in excess of what the gas market could absorb. US gas prices crashed.

In the UK the drilling companies expect prices to remain high, partly because they are unlikely to repeat the rush to overproduction that happened in the US.

Incidentally, I'm neutral on fracking. Properly done, it's a better fuel than coal in terms of CO2 production and general pollution. I just do not see it as the cheap energy panacea promoted by so many comments here.
I'm in favour of nuclear power, both as a large scale base load generator, and for its relatively low CO2 production per unit output..

May 1, 2013 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic Man,
"US gas prices crashed."

So are those companies bankrupt?
Or are they still selling gas at a profit but with returns on capital-invested that are merely acceptable to good, rather than outrageously good?

May 1, 2013 at 3:12 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart

This analysis of the US shale gas industry should answer some of your questions.

Look particularly at Part VI, discussing the financial status of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest operators in the US shale gas industry.

The UK shale gas industry is unlikely to behave in the same way as the US. The environmental regulations and planning laws are much tighter and anything analogous to the EPA exemption would be difficult.

May 1, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Reads rather like a typical Californian anti-fracking enviro-site, Entropic Man, not a credible industry-wide analysis. And since when has the EPA been regarded as being a soft touch?

May 1, 2013 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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