Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

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

Powered by Squarespace
« Where next for climate policy? | Main | European justice? »

Getting the shale message across

Owen Paterson was up in front of the Lords' Economic Affair Committee yesterday (video here, but it's a bit of a long haul to tell the truth). One of the concerns of their lordships was that the government is losing the propaganda war over the risks and benefits of shale gas. The minister was repeatedly pressed about what the government was going to do to sway public opinion once and for all and there was much talk of a lack of "joined up government".

Paterson made what I thought was a fairly obvious point which was that he, as a politician, was unlikely to be trusted anyway and he rather gave the impression that our political lords and masters feel powerless to change things.

To my mind much of the problem here lies with the media and in particular the fact that environmentalist journalists are usually responsible for covering the shale gas story. It's hard to imagine that the Guardian or the Independent are ever going to tell the truth about shale, not should we want the government to influence the free press, but the ongoing campaign against shale gas in many parts of the BBC and their consistent failure to allow meaningful questioning of the claims of environmentalists is another matter. The impression that the greens' 28gate coup continues to influence the corporation's output is hard to avoid.

After the most recent appearance of the 28gate story in the media I wrote to the Commons' Culture Media and Sport select committee asking for an inquiry into the links between environmentalists and the corporation. My request was turned down on the specious grounds that the committee was too busy.

Turning a blind eye to wrongdoing has got the BBC into trouble several times in recent years, and parliamentarians have not been slow to criticise these failures. So perhaps they might like to look at their own performance and ask whether the positive message on shale gas might not get out a lot faster if our national broadcaster wasn't so beholden to the greens.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (95)

Is there public uncertainty about shale exploitation? Are the public concerned? Do any of the public care?

The BBC and its associated pro-environmentalists push it as a great threat and the public do not want it, but what is the real story?

If it wasn't for the Green Renta-Crowd no one would be bothered. Given the size of the drill works area, it would be like having a builders yard nearby.

Nothing more - unlike a wind farm!!!!!!

Jan 29, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I compiled some search statistics on BBC news. I looked for occurrences of "Friends of the Earth", "Greenpeace" and "WWF" from 1/1/2000 onwards.

Between 2000 and 2009 they are only mentioned a total of 10 times. The figures for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 are as follows:

FoE: 52 (2010), 139 (2011), 150 (2012), 160 (2013)
Greenpeace: 110 (2010), 150 (2011), 98 (2012), 300 (2013)
WWF: 71 (2010), 120 (2011), 130 (2012), 170 (2013)

If only one of them had increased their coverage then I would have put it down to them employing a better media person but with all three of them increasing their coverage I would have to put it down to the BBC actively seeking them out.

Jan 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


Good piece of research, sir.

I'm sure the enormous increase in exposure for environmental activist groups since 2010 has absolutely no connection with Ed Millipede losing his job as Minister for Massivley F****ing Over the UK Economy With Green Crap

Jan 29, 2014 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

TerryS, are you sure the BBC news archive isn't being pruned with age? Or perhaps wasn't maintained as accurately prior to 2010?

Jan 29, 2014 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

TerryS. I'm surprised the figures are as low as those, but I'm also sure the same sort of trend would be seen in all the BBC documentary/science programmes. Until the environmental activists dominating the BBC and its news are removed, then there will not be balanced coverage of the issue of "controversial" fracking or of "uncontroversial" wind turbines.

Jan 29, 2014 at 3:13 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip, I'm surprised that TerryS's figures seem low too but I suspect it's because the green message is so all-pervasive that we unconsciously assume that the usual suspects are appearing more often than they are.

The problem is that they don't need to - their work is being done most of the time by presenters, politicians and representatives of all sorts of bodies who on the face of it don't have Eco-evangalism as part of their remit. Much of the time I suspect that they don't even realise they are doing it or saying anything contentious.

The success of eco-propaganda has been to conceal the fact that it is propaganda at all and spouting it has become as natural as breathing for many people.

Jan 29, 2014 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Terry, I wonder whether they are just quoted as "experts" or "environmentalists" without attribution?

Jan 29, 2014 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Re: steveta_uk

I'm searching using google and setting a date range for the results. Not the most accurate way of doing it, but I would expect the results to be fairly consistent.

I might write a script to search the BBC site directly and get a more accurate count.

Jan 29, 2014 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Bish: the greens, including the media, are trawling for red herrings. The final act of the shale drama will be played out on the purely practical grounds that, to be anything other than a scientific curiosity, we simply don't have the space for the thousands of wells, miles of pipelines and huge processing facilities that shale gas production needs.

Jan 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Vernon: It is nearly 50 years since the country went from towns mains to natural gas. I can remember the laying of pipelines and other infrastructure across the country. There are now about 275,000km of gas pipelines within the UK national gas network. If there is room in the country to build thousands of wind turbines and solar farms and thousands of miles of power lines to connect them via new substations to the grid, what is the problem with a few wells, processing facilities and a few more miles of underground gas pipelines? At least the gas wells will produce something useful and valuable, whereas all the turbines and solar panels create a valueless product - namely intermittent and unreliable electricity which is damaging to the grid.

Jan 29, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Vernon E
Explain to me how this fracking thing works because I am obviously misinformed.
As I understand it, the prospectors will drill down from a single point and then explore horizontally from there. So one well will actually tap a considerable area.
I've seen photos of well heads that are considerably (ie by a factor of quite a lot!) less intrusive than wind-operated subsidy farms.
I don't know a great deal about processing so I can't comment but since what we are looking for is gas and what we will get is gas I'm not sure how much processing will be necessary. Some, obviously. Perhaps you can explain just how much. Ditto for pipelines. Since virtually every village in the UK (certainly in the more populated parts) is connected to the gas grid transport of the finished product won't be a problem.
The only thing I can see that might really impinge on local people would be the need for processing facilities close to the well head.
Could you enlighten us a bit?

Jan 29, 2014 at 4:18 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Here in the western US, we have companies drilling up to 40 well from one pad. The directional drilling encompasses about 350 acres from that one site. The well heads can be placed underground and the condensates piped off site to a central location for temporary storage. The drill pads are reclaimed and in a few years you won't even know that they exist.

Jan 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPathway

Perhaps Green wrath could be deflected if drilling companies payed a small percentage of profits into an environmental bond that would force them to restore the local environment when gas is depleted.
For example, converting the base and building a 300m windmill in its place in about 50 years time.

Jan 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

First sentence was a great idea. You lost me after that!

That was pretty much my understanding. I don't know Wytch Farm but that is in an area of outstanding natural beauty with some of the most expensive properties in England and hardly anybody seems to have noticed it's been there for decades.
And that is "traditional" extraction as far as I know which is a lot more visually intrusive than fracking, isn't it?

Jan 29, 2014 at 5:19 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Getting back to the subject of this article, it is little wonder that the Government is loosing the propaganda war as the Government itself was very much lobbying against shale gas and fracking until very recently, when the Tories at least realised that shale gas was a godsend and a potential vote winner. Unfortunately, because they have had to drag the Lib Dems, who have the energy brief, into their way of thinking, and with prominent Tories like Gummer and Yeo and perhaps even Cameron, firmly in the pockets of the green energy lobby, it is not difficult to see why there are comments about a lack of joined up government. It is little wonder that Patterson has had to admit that because he is a politician, people will not believe him, as this excuse is far less damaging than the truth. If we had had normal majority government interested in the welfare of its people, Davy would have long since been sacked and replaced by a minister who would have got the job done rather than the prevarication that we presently see.

On the issue of the BBC's continued preference for the green agenda, they once more tried to put the spanner in the works with the magazine programme "Inside Out Northwest" this week, where they made a great issue of potential problems with disposing of low level radiation in fracking water, saying that this could stall development. The North West is of course where the Swampy brigade are currently camped out and doubtless, they would have been made very much aware of this issue by the BBC's broadcast. Getting back to the Governments joined up thinking, this latest issue prpagandised by the BBC is very much down to the Government putting obstacles in the way of shale gas development when they were seemingly against it back when Cuadrilla were drilling in Lancashire and the Government changed the rules to reclassify this water as low level nuclear waste. Now, before any more fracking licences can be issued, drilling companies will have to say how the water is to be treated and disposed of and the treatment facilities don’t yet exist. Little wonder then that the Government is being accused of a "lack of joined up government."

Jan 29, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

We've got a gyppo site being built next to us, I'd swap it for fracking any day!

Jan 29, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Vernon, we have loads os space. Only 4% of the UK is built on (and that includes all the roads and gardens), the rest is rural or national parks. Use google maps in satellite mode to have a look at Gainsborough for instance and see how green it is. Or have a read of the frackland blog which talks about it -

Jan 29, 2014 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

I noted this text from a fellow called Thorby on the Telegraph's web site a little over a week ago:

"I have two gas wells on my North Texas farm which were drilled about 6 years ago.
It took about 28 days to drill each horizontal well which reach 8,400 feet beneath the ground. The fracking process took about 8 hours per well.

Our drinking water is pumped from 1,200 feet without any hint of contamination.

As an ex-pat, I sympathize with the problems in the UK; a crowded island whose inhabitants seem to have had their mineral rights stolen from them.

The standard rate for royalties here is 25% of the proceeds to the land owner. Even if royalties were to be distributed to UK communities rather than individual land owners at the going rate, I am sure there would be less complaining."

Many of you no doubt appreciate that the fracking process is relatively swift, but it is evident to me that this is not understood in the wider community in the UK. Were people more aware of the processes involved then there ought to be less antagonism. Clearly there needs to be regulation by an independent body with inspectors on site to monitor the safe disposal of waste water and to ensure wells are properly sealed, as the Royal Academy of Engineering has recommended [The Times 29-1-2014 p4]. So far the government has yet to establish such a body and shows no signs of doing so.

Jan 29, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuercus


I question where you are deriving your information from? Just their mentions in the BBC news streams from events that affect or include them I would expect far more hits. Just one weekend of BBC broadcasts surrounding Greenpeace activities that hit the news would register more hits than that.

On the 'environment' statements from the BBC; of course the BBC is not going to announce to anyone that they got their environment opinion from one or another activist groups. What does give them away is their 'choice' of wordings and sound bites often are derived directly from activist publications. Not forgetting the revelation that many of the BBC are in constant email/phone communications with activists.

Another of the BBC news weaknesses are the 'studies', research, films and videos supplied by or directly involving activists from those organizations.

Last, as a kind of proof; remember the 'ship of fools' included BBC writers; how many times did you read/hear BBC included themselves regarding the ship of fools? The BBC may be full of charlatans, but apparently they're not all fools.

Jan 29, 2014 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Joe Public:

Are you a green seeking to troll? I really hope you are.

Jan 29, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Opposition comes from middle class arts metropolitan graduates employed by NGOs and public sector . Most working class people and middle class people employed by private business are pro shale or indifferent.

Since the late 60s and especially since the 80s there are large numbers of middle class hard left, anarchists and green fundementalists who live on welfare work hundreds or even a few thousand for a few days to protest for a few days. Camera crews can either make the numbers smaller or larger than they actually present. The movement of people through squats give rise to informal networks. Since the, 80s and the rise of anarchist groups such as Class War and Trotkyist groups such as Militant Tendency, SWP there are plenty of people to use tactics which are very close to physical intimidation.

Plenty of Trotkyists have moved into the media and the Labour and Green Parties and Tories such as Gummer and Yeo are making fortunes

Companies promoting shale and the present government ministers need to rapidly learn how to present the truth to sensible Britain. If the companies provided the facts it would be start. Modern communication works often by shouting the loudest and longest . If companies do not respond to the anti-shale gas lobby, then most people will assume they have nothing to say.

If they say water from fracking has low level radiation, so will water from Cornish Tine mines and coal mines. Coal heaps can be more radioactive than the outiside of nuclear power plant.

Jan 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

We need shale gas, and need it fast: this is an economic necessity. Is the BBC endeavouring to sabotage the programme? If so it is tantamount to treason. Perhaps a bit strong, but I feel strongly about the matter.

Jan 29, 2014 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Charlie, is there a sensible Britain any more? In my darker moods, I sometimes wonder....

Jan 29, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

the government is losing the propaganda war over the risks and benefits of shale gas

I do not remember any propaganda war being needed over :

Building wind Farms everywhere.
Building HS2.
Decimating our defence forces.
Building Nuclear Power Stations.
Being in the EU.


The government decided we needed these things so we got them, what is the problem with fracking?

Jan 29, 2014 at 8:09 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The green lobby and their useless idiots, the Balcombe stormtroopers are winning the Fracking propaganda wars because their eco "save the polar bears" insanity dominates the media and the Parliamentary bubble - liblabcon. Thus, the Brussels propagandists - UNEP, the IPCC, the international NGOs sit back and smile contentedly.

The Lords' Economic Affair Committee, can shout and scream but the Fracking industry faces insurmountable odds.

First up of these - the fracking industry has to drill through the obsidian hard impervious layers of the anti fracking lobby and it is a very big sequence of tough to drill 'rock'.

The media.

If you read Lulu as was, or Lean in the DT, Webster, Leake, Simons and numerous others in the Times. Any article, whenever hydraulic fracturing is featured also mentioned with and with a repetitive drone - almost background muzak; are the myths associated with Shale gas - contaminated water, earthquakes and the rest of the green propaganda.

The BBC and their outrageously biased green viewpoint, a recent propaganda effort on 'Inside out' was so anti fracking, short of making public pronouncements against fracking between their 'advertisements' for Beeb products and programmes - only the man popping down from the Moon could possibly be unaware of the Beebs thoughts and feelings towards the evils of fracking.

I would say that, actually most people would be pro fracking if they knew of the benefits it could bring to them and the country. As it is - all the public hear, is the opposite message and almost exclusively: the media is solely to blame.

Jan 29, 2014 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"We need shale gas, and need it fast: this is an economic necessity." - The Last Refuge

"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." This line was not, as widely believed, about patriotism in general, but the false use of the term "patriotism" by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (the patriot-minister) and his supporters; Johnson opposed "self-professed patriots" in general, but valued what he considered "true" self-professed patriotism."

True patriots are those who seek to strengthen the country. This does not include people who's only concern is the price of a stock.


And there certainly was much complaint about England entering the EU. Either you don't read the paper or are very much outside any political concern.

Jan 29, 2014 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

There is a similar problem of wilful misunderstanding and disinformation concerning GM crops and bovine TB. The activists run rings around the politicians who are utterly bewildered and just wish the problems would go away.

Jan 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherwin Hall

It is of course nonsense to suggest that there is no regime or capacity for dealing with waste water or that NORM is somehow a new feature of life. Some of the earliest Southern North Sea gas production was associated with high levels of NORM, requiring special processing by Carless, Capel Leonard of the resulting condensates onshore. Regulation for the treatment of produced water onshore has also long been in place: Wytch Farm has been operating for nearly 40 years already, and until last year its output energy content exceeded the annual energy output of every wind farm in the UK.

The excellent Frackland blog has some real data on what is already happening with water:

The Government has of course established a regulatory quango - usually referred to as OffUGO. Bizarrely (well perhaps not for Davey and the DECC) they chose a wind expert to head it who was hauled back from a secondment to Technip Wind.

Meanwhile DECC have been delaying while they mull over whether wells should be stopped if there is so much as a rumble like a passing train 150m away (or is that the train should be stopped?).

Jan 29, 2014 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

[Snip - O/T]

Jan 29, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant


I seriously think you should ban Replicant, he screwed my Shale gas discussion and now he is on the main blog :(

Jan 29, 2014 at 10:08 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Viewed from Downunda, you Brits look completely f--ked from just about every angle.

Your problem is not British Shale Gas, and how to get at it.

Your problem is Britain. The Britain of the soft eco-left dripping wet Conservative Party, the Britain of High Street beheadings, the Britain of the five-second rapist, child marriage, gormless, drunken, amoral, loot-at-the-drop-of-a-hat youth.

Stand back and look at your country from some distance.

From ruling the world to the pathetic, corrupt, decadent thing it is today.
Not one Brit of any stature has been brought into the world since Thatcher was born.
And never shall there be - perhaps your NHS has another secret program, similar to the Liverpool Pathway, that identifies babies of robust character and strangles them in the cot.

Jan 29, 2014 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Blair

Robert Blair - I think you are seeing Britain through rose-tinted spectacles.

If you were nearer, you'd realise it's far worse than you describe.

Jan 29, 2014 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Perhaps Green wrath could be deflected if drilling companies payed a small percentage of profits into an environmental bond that would force them to restore the local environment when gas is depleted.
For example, converting the base and building a 300m windmill in its place in about 50 years time.

I assume your last sentence was sarcastic. Add to the first sentence, the cost of cleanup and decommissioning is built into almost every drilling operation in the UK already.

Charlie, I don't see there's anything much to be gained by getting into a shouting match with eco-loonies. They keep shifting their ground anyway. They just "know" that drilling a well for hydrocarbons is wrong and I doubt they feel any need to be consistent or logical.

Jan 29, 2014 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Your problem is Britain. The Britain of the soft eco-left dripping wet Conservative Party, the Britain of High Street beheadings, the Britain of the five-second rapist, child marriage, gormless, drunken, amoral, loot-at-the-drop-of-a-hat youth.

Stand back and look at your country from some distance.

I deem you know of what you speak, if I am correct then, you will also know that there is another type of youth. These are not of British stock but in time will come to be the new power in the land. An unforgiving force, intellectually crippled and dissolute in its own way but nevertheless confident in its corruption and hatred, an Ideology bolstered immensely by a theocratic hierarchy which demands absolute fealty and trucks no dissent.

A deadly keen irony is it not that, the indigenous peoples were undone by an ideology devoted to crushing the 'old ways' a nations traditions and customs and through it caused our collective infirmity. It, the liberal left wrought a societal and cultural collapse into degenerative immoral laxity, so weak have we become that, a creed that the liberals and cultural Marxists invited in and gave succour to, in turn when it grows as it will, then proceed to be the scourge of the liberal elite and lead to something far, far worse for those poor souls unlucky enough, unable to leave British shores.

Contributing to Britain's demise, Man Made Global warming and all of its onerous and costly manifestations was one tool used to excavate the foundations - in the 'undermining' of Britain in all senses of the word.

Australia, had better take heed and keep their doors bolted to these newcomers.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Kellydown. Those opposed to fracking are prepared to go along to meetings and shout down those they disagree with while reasonable people do not go along or back down when abused. Reasonable people will not win the battle of ideas if they do not take part: they also need to be less spineless. Just because someone shouts at one it is not an excuse to give up.
Sherwin Hall - good point. Basically we are dealing with petulant, spoilt , emotionally immature , unreasonable teenagers
who are having a massive temper tantrum.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

This is of course much different than companies forcing fracking and industry on people who have expressly and repeatedly stated it was unwanted. After all, companies are so pro community that their work is always above reproach.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

People? What people? Greenpeace?

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

You can get people to agree with anything if you scare them enough with lies, replicant.
But likewise remember that you cannot fool all the people all the time. Your day of reckoning will come.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Church of England sees the light over fracking

" First payday lenders, now fracking. Is nothing sacred at the Church of England?

Has the Church of England seen the light about fracking, having previously warned that the dash for shale gas could damage "God’s glorious creation”?

Drilling down into Commons records this week, it emerges that the Government has awarded a number of petroleum exploration licences to areas that fall within the 100,000 acres of UK land owned by the Church Commissioners, the Church of England's investment arm......"

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"You can get people to agree with anything if you scare them enough with lies."

Scare them with lies?? Yea, that's funny. The homeowners who have their drinking water contaminated with explosive levels of methane and are getting sick from fracking chemical are experiencing these symptoms because of lies. Phew, well that's a relief. How thoughtless of me. To think that pumping thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into groundwater tables and turning above ground areas into industrial zones would impact farming communities in the slightest. What a bunch of fear mongers those greenies are huh. Now why didn't I think of that. All the illnesses reported are just lies. The people experiencing them are just greenie wieners. Boy, you guys have got those arguments down pat. A bunch of real science majors you are.

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Although the chemicals used in fracking vary based on geographical region, general classifications of chemicals include: acids; bactericides; corrosion inhibitors; friction reducers; gelling agents; iron controllers; scale inhibitors; and surfactants. Of these, high levels of total dissolved solids, chlorides, surfactants, gelling agents and metals present in the water that resurfaces have been identified as posing the greatest environmental concern.

Large pits can be used to store the hydraulic fracturing fluid as it resurfaces from the ground, before it is transported for reuse, storage or treatment. The liquid can contain a variety of contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds or methanol, which can have an impact on local air quality. Methanol is a toxic substance that is considered a cumulative poison with chronic exposure. Methanol is relatively volatile, evaporating quickly upon exposure to air and forming high vapour concentrations.

Areas with shale gas production have experienced an increase in truck traffic, from transporting equipment to removing waste. Some wells have reportedly required an average of 1,500 truck trips for water delivery to the site.

Methane contamination of drinking water from shale gas development has been documented in areas of the U.S., which has also experienced an increase in the number of cases of human exposure to methane. High levels of methane, the main component of natural gas, can cause asphyxiation and create an explosive hazard in confined spaces. Methane is also highly flammable.

What's not to like. All these dangers. Just fear mongering from leftist freeloading greenies. See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil. If everybody just shut their trap we could get on with the business of making money and flare some more gas. Looks good against the night sky.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

People? What people?

Ernst, a biologist and environmental consultant to the oil and gas industry, says EnCana "told us ‘we would never fracture near your water.' But the company fracked into our aquifer in that same year [2004]." By 2005, she says, "My water began dramatically changing, going bad. I was getting horrible burns and rashes from taking a shower, and then my dogs refused to drink the water. That's when I began to pay attention." At least fifteen water-wells had gone bad in the little community.

Ernst, a landowner in the town of Rosebud, Alberta

Ernst says she heard from "at least fifty other landowners the first year" she went public, and she continues to get calls. Groundwater contamination from fracking "is pretty widespread" in Alberta.

What people? Those aren't people. They're just greenies and wankers.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant


Please educate yourself:

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Thank you to the posters who have asked for clarification of my, shall I say, unique position. My data derives from the extensive current literature of the US experience which is now being supported by the latest successful fracked test well in Poland. First there is confusion about what shale gas is. It is "natural gas". That is, a mainly gaseous mixture containing mostly methane (the desired fuel) but also all the other light hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane and C5+ hydrocarbons) all of which have to be removed before the fuel meets our pipeline specifications. There may also be CO2, nitrogen and worst of all H2S. In the US the compositions vary widely from very useable to not worth bothering with. Next, by definition shale is "tight" - that's why it has to be fracked. Well flows are low by gas industry standards - typically around 200 - 400 mcfd (also wells decay very quickly - up to 70% in the first year; a good well may be re-fracked after five years back to around 50% of the initial output for while). A simple calculation will show that to produce even fifty percent of the UK's demand will require some thousands of wells. Next the question of area. There is a kind of concensus that a drill pad area of around 400 acres is required, but from this multiple wells can be drilled directed in different directions. Somebody said forty wells. In the US literature I can only find reference to a theoretical maximum of twelve but in practice a maximum of four and more usually one or two. Then there is the issue of miles of interconnecting piping called the "gathering systems" (as opposed to trunklines). Gathering systems are laid above ground - just laid on the surface more or less temporarily. Burying the would be uneconomic nonsense. Then the "field" production, having gathered an economic quantity of gas has to be piped to the processing facility (think Sullum Voe or Bacton) where the heavier hydrocarbons (the natural gas liquids, NGLs) are separated by either refrigeration or lean oil absorption, with or without separate CO2 absorption, and the methane is ready to join our gas grid. The NGLs are then fractionated in huge towers into useable propane and butane for petrochemical feedstocks and liquid condensate or "natural gasoline" for upgrading in our refineries. I don't want to get too complicated about the marginal ethane - its another story - but altogether these are huge undertakings if a significant amount of gas is to be produced. Remember, we have never had an onshore gas field in the UK (and please don't start shouting about Wytch farm etc - those are oil wells producing "associated gas" - a different technology altogether). Informed comment will be welcome - I don't pretend to have all the answers.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

I have. And so have hundreds of other landowners. It is a dangerous practice that leaves millions of gallons of highly toxic chemicals in the ground water that are causing illnesses everywhere they are used. In addition the industry produces millions of gallons of highly toxic chemicals that needs to be disposed of.

In 2009, the volume of fracturing flowback and brines produced in Pennsylvania was estimated to be 9 million gallons of wastewater per day, and this figure was expected to increase to 19 - 20 million gallons/day in 2011.

The sheer volume of wastes, combined with high concentrations of certain chemicals in the flowback from fracturing operations, are posing major waste management challenges for the Marcellus Shale states.
Also, the US Geological Survey has found that flowback may contain a variety of formation materials, including brines, heavy metals, radionuclides, and organics, which can make wastewater treatment difficult and expensive.
Done at taxpayer expense of course.

Fracking in America generated 280bn US gallons of toxic waste water last year – enough to flood all of Washington DC beneath a 22ft deep toxic lagoon, a new report out on Thursday found.

The full extent of the damage posed by fracking to air and water quality had yet to emerge, the report said.

But it concluded: "Even the limited data that are currently available, however, paint an increasingly clear picture of the damage that fracking has done to our environment and health."

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant


Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan to host screening of Gasland Part II in Royal Oak with film director Josh Fox in attendance

September 20, 2013

Contributions to the campaign can be made at any time online at or by check to: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, PO Box 490, Charlevoix, MI, 49720

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Sorry, I forgot the link.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

@Vernon E:

There is no requirement for a drill pad to be 400 acres. How much area is covered by a North Sea platform that may have 50-100 wells? Or how about this wellpad in Beverly HIlls?

Onshore gas discoveries since 1982 include:

Godley Bridge 1
Godley Bridge 1
Baxters Copse 1
Kirby Misperton 1
Albury 1
Marishes 1
Everton 1
Bargeddie 1
Caythorpe 2
Pickering 1
Saltfleetby 1Z
Cowden 2
Kirkleatham 4
Ebberston South
Preese Hall 1

The UK's most productive onshore gas find is here:

The site occupies about one acre. There are no above ground pipes surrounding it. Take a look in Streetview. A few miles away near Consiholme is a windfarm that occupies a square kilometre.

It will never produce as much energy as has come from that gas well.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

It doesn't add up...

The sentiment you express is absolutely true. Humans absolutely have the technical capacity to do things with much, much less contamination and danger than is currently the practice. Unfortunately the fact remains that industry does not give a rat's ass to do things in any way that even might conflict with them making even one dollar less. That is why they flare off enough gas that could power huge cities. That is why they simply dump waste water wherever is cheapest and wherever they could get away with it. That is why in the Niger delta huge gas flares have been burning for decades and large pools of water lie floating where people want to grow crops. That is why BP pumped millions of gallons of Corexit into the Gulf blowout to keep the oil below the surface where it can't be seen and can never be cleaned up. So now the world has a huge oil spill as well as a huge Coexit spill.

The industry does not give a rat's ass about their pollution. That is why they simply tell the people who live around Lake Athabasca that it is naturally occurring substance that is causing the all the fish to die. Because it is a complete fact that the industry doesn't do anything that they are not absolutely forced to do. That's the fact.

Undortunately this problem is not limited to only industry. I don't mean to imply that it is only industry that is culpable. You can go for miles into pristine forests in BC and fine plastic bags, beer cans, oil cans, old mattresses and whatever dumped and strewn around. But industrial capacities multiply human damage exponentially many fold. And the fact remains that the immense damages done by industry, and unfortunately by the shale gas exploration industry must be curtailed if humans are going to have any chance of survival.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Please list all of the times when the scaremongers have proved their case in a court and how much the courts awarded them.
- Since there have been thousands of new style fracks in the states there must be hundreds if the claims above are true
.. or could there just be one or 2 cases where oil companies have paid up cos it was cheaper than fighting the case.
- There is plenty of space here to list them ..otherwise the above just looks like mudslinging

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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>