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« Where next for climate policy? | Main | European justice? »
Wednesday
Jan292014

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.

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Reader Comments (95)

It doesn't add up.... Interesting. I am pleased that we have so many onshore gas fields. How many of them produce a "significant" amount of gas? How many of them produce commercially? How many produce gas that meets pipeline specifications for "grid" (ie public) use. The question of area is fascinating and I would dearly like to get to the bottom of it. I don't think the off shore comparison is valid. Everything off shore is compacted also the pay strata are not tight - all you need to do is direct a well into it and it flows. As I said the US references are to 400 acres, but don't say how many wells, but fracking well sites must allow for all the needs for the fluids storing and usage , human facilities etc. Until I see something positive I'll stick with the US quoted figure 400 acres accepting that there is a question as to how may wells are drilled from it.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

@ replicant:

I'm sure you could do a lot of damage with your line of thinking. Perhaps you should take some time to learn what really happens in places like Nigeria, where it is the corrupt governments that bear the real responsibility, siphoning off the wealth for themselves while ensuring that most citizens remain so poor that they are prepared to risk drilling holes in pipelines to obtain fuel, contaminating their environment in the process.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

What's corruption got to do with industry not doing the least amount of environmental damage possible. It isn`t corruption that is forcing Shell to waste that gas. It isn`t corruption that keeps gas lines above ground. It isn`t corruption that causes dumping of toxic effluent into streams. The Nigerian courts have ordered all gas flaring to stop several times. It isn`t Nigerian corruption that keeps them from complying. Why don't they? Because the excuse of corruption is more profitable for the companies than to try to recover the gas. Why are the oil sands allowed to dump millions of gallons of pollutants into the river? Because that corruption is more profitable than not doing it. Because people like you support that corruption. Feed it and deny that any problems exist. Yet it is as obvious as the nose on any bodies face that the world is becoming increasingly toxic. Yet you just stick you chin out and pretend that it is all just a matter of propaganda. You wouldn't live where these people have to live, and did live before the industry came. Yet you willingly and self-righteously pretend that you, and the industry in general is as pure as the driven snow.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

replicant
Are you an expert on fracking or are you just trotting out the green patter?
You produce a screed of dubious and unsubstantiated claims in your 12.08PM post (and putting it all in bold just pisses people off - just a tip!) without a single reference.
The chemicals used in the fracking process account for ~1% of the total fluid and are in the main chemicals that can be found in toothpaste, washing-up liquid, soap and detergent. Or in cosmetics. Lush-groupies please note.
...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 Oh, really? High levels? Less than 1%.
Methanol: According to the Methanol Institute (and I have been around long enough to take the view that they probably know what they are talking about),
"The oil and gas industry has long employed methanol in a number of different roles ... and it is now one of the most commonly used additives in fracking fluids – though it is used in very small quantities, often less than 0.001%."
And again:
"In every scenario examined concentrations of methanol are orders of magnitude lower than methanol health-based screening levels.
Among the most telling scenario of this report is the potential release into residential drinking water due to a leaking well casing or pipe. Even in this scenario, using the most conservative estimates, the report finds that the estimated methanol intake is still 40 times less than the daily dietary intake of methanol from common sources like fruit and juices.
"
See their White Paper, "Methanol Use in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids". And we can knock that one on the head, then.
"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."
None of which have been linked to fracking.
From the journal 'Environmental Health Perspectives':
"John Hanger, a former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), blames poor gas well construction or design, not fracking, for methane contamination noted to date. He says repairs or plugging of gas wells eliminated contamination in 14 of 19 previously contaminated water wells tested in 2010 by the DEP."
And please remember that in the vicinity of gas deposits, methane in tap water was recorded as far back as the 1920s. Fracking per se is unlikely to be the cause.
Next!

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"estimated methanol intake is still 40 times less than the daily dietary intake of methanol from common sources like fruit and juices."

Of course, makes a whole lot of sense. That's why the problem of what to do with waste fracking fluid is becoming a huge problem. I would definitely suggest we just sell it a bottled tap water. Since sources of orange juice are having some problems because of the Asian citrus psyllid maybe we could get some dietary supplements from fracking fluid. A real good argument. I know, we could take all the fracking fluid and put it in your drinking water. I mean that is certainly what your argument is suggesting. And anybody's suggestion to the contrary that anything the fracking industry does is just a load of BS. Unbelievable. Completely obtuse people without the slightest concern for anybody else's property, health or wishes. Regardless of voluminous studies by trained scientists, personal eyewitnesses and the obvious observations of what is happening globally is all just swept away with the brush of a hand. Why? So you can promote a cheap worthless stock higher and then sell it. Leaving the people on the ground to pay for the cleanup. Nice. Real nice.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Vernon E,

Where does this 400 acres figure come from? Do you have a reference? I don’t normally ask for references, I prefer to do my own searching, but I cannot find anything like as big an area stipulated. The normal size of a fracking well pad/site is actually less than a hectare, somewhere around 2 acres. This would normally support around 10-20 well heads, although in theory it could be more. I think you must have the wrong end of the stick somewhere.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:59 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Vernon E; do you have anything to support the image you conjure up of pipelines criss-crossing the countryside, large well sites, collection tanks, processing plants etc?

It is in stark contrast with other sources.
~ We have had several first-person comments from the US on these threads which do not match your description at all.
~ There was a presentation posted a few months ago about Fort Worth which showed a discrete shale well-head between a golf course and playing field. It also quoted approx 1900 wells drilled within the city limits which, per your comments, would make the place look like one giant refinery.
~ Cuadrilla's website includes pictures of their Elswick site which has been producing gas since 1993 (straight into a generator). It is a small "cage" a few metres on each side in a cleared space. They also show a CGI of an aerial view of production sites with ground-level views. The sites are a fraction of the area of surrounding fields.
~ According to the UK oil & gas industry about 2000 wells have been drilled in the UK. Until the possibility of fracking arose, they were hardly mentioned outside the industry journals, etc..
~ The 400 - 500 acre figure - about 2/3 of a square mile - is far too large for the above-ground site. It is probably the area which multiple drills reach from one pad (and is probably historic, given the distances now being attained).

You have posted similar comments on these threads a number of times. If you have any hard info to substantiate them, please post it up. Otherwise, let's leave the false imagery to Josh Fox and company.

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:17 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Mikeh: I can't do your homework for you but you may start by googling Ryan T Duman for the technical and economic data on shale gas. I know I have sung this song before but nobody has said anything telling me where I am wrong. I want to stress again and again that I am addressing substantial shale gas production. Our government says 100% of UK need with falling prices - a moron can see that this is nonsense. But I have worked upon the Morcombe Bay field production (7% of UK needs) and at most 50%. I am not addressing scientific novelties - I well know that there is production of landfill gas etc with dedicated users but these are not remotely relevant. Please can we just talk about what is relevant.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Vernon E:

You are inventing difficulties where none exist. We already have sufficient gas fractionation capacity in the UK, and most of it is really not too far from where gas will be produced - and it is becoming available as existing offshore production falls. This is where the Saltfleetby gas is processed:

http://goo.gl/maps/LxPZE

Nearby Theddlethorpe, almost entirely screened by trees, which also handles gas from 20 other fields, mostly offshore.

In any event, gas treatment processes can be conducted on anything from lab bench scale upwards. Moreover, it is not always going to be necessary to process gas to grid customer delivery standards. Gas will be used to fuel power plants directly in some cases - Connah's Quay power station was built specifically to burn gas from a Morecambe Bay field that is particularly sour. Peterhead power station was originally fuelled by relatively untreated gas before the St Fergus treatment and fractionation plant and the pipelines South were built.

Fractionation and treatment requirements depend on market conditions and technical parameters. The technical parameters concern removing sources of corrosion such as H2S, safety considerations, and ensuring that the gas has the right burning characteristics. Dilution of smaller quantities of gas in a larger stream can mean that the input quality constraints are less exacting. So it can make sense to supply a richer gas rather than process to extract NGL all the way back to delivery specification suitable for use in you hob at home (this may allow slightly deeper extraction of liquids at larger process plants). These are matters for engineers and economists to resolve - as has been done for decades with North Sea supplies.

As production increases, it will make sense to route it into the gas grid via the existing treatment plants (and perhaps the odd additional one). Considering that before North Sea gas, all gas was locally produced from coal, you should realise that we have installed a substantial grid since then already - some of which might be re-purposed. It really is not a problem.

You should also understand that drilling from a small wellpad can cover a very wide area indeed. Frackland has a nice illustration:

http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/extended-reach-drilling.html

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

replicant
Bullshit!
Nothing I wrote could lead to the conclusions you draw.
And since when was the Methanol Institute part of the "fracking industry", which, I have to say is a new one to me.
I've heard of the oil industry and the gas industry and the nuclear industry but never till now the fracking industry.
Your bigotry is showing.
As is your temper. Calm down and try to be rational or label yourself a troll.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson

Well, I don't know what you're talking about, but I'm talking about fracking fluid entering water tables due to badly known extents, and worse, poorly controlled, to which fractures can propagate within zones. These fractures greatly increase migration of all fluids previously contained to migrate into and throughout the water tables. Your disingenuous argument about the daily dietary intake of a gas being equivalent to some juices is, to put it mildly, just that, disingenuous. As if that was what the real problem is. And then with a puff of self righteous pretensions you ad - Next. And then ridiculously add bigotry to your idiotic posting. Are you trying to tell me I should take you seriously?

http://www.frackingcanada.ca/industrys-gas-migration/

"Activities of the oil and gas industry greatly impact groundwater. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated in 1992 that 200,000 of 1.2 million (16.7%) abandoned oil and gas wells in the US were leaking and “have become conduits for noxious liquids that bubble up from deep below the earth's surface to kill crops and taint drinking water."

"There are too many big companies out here now, competing for monopoly. There was a deliberate dump last year right beside a well and uphill from a nearby creek.

The company left it for the creek to clean up.

—Carlyle Jorgensen, Cromer Manitoba Farmer"

“In use for more than 60 years throughout the oil and gas industry, there are no documented cases of groundwater contamination related to the hydraulic fracturing process.”

uh-uh


4. Documented Cases of Fracking Contaminating Groundwater

In 1987, the US Environmental Protection Agency documented that hydraulic fracturing by industry had contaminated groundwater.16 The New York Times' Ian Urbina reported that more cases were sealed by settlements and confidentiality agreements.17

A 1989 peer-reviewed paper reported that “hydraulic fracturing stimulation” for light oil, in several wells in a low permeable sandstone reservoir in southwest Manitoba, propagated into the underlying water zone:

I don't want to make the post too long. You can certainly read for yourself. But to people who don't want to read, don't want to know, don't care to read, don't care to understand, denial is always the easiest path to follow. Criminals have been using that tactic since the beginning of time. What do you expect them to say. Golly gee, I'm sorry. That would be nice.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

It doesn't add up .... Thank goodness that this discussion has raised itself a bit above earthquakes and drinking water. You are absolutely right - if we get large scale production it will probably be not beyond engineering capability to bring in the existing treating facilities, except that most of them are located to process offshore gas, buts that's ok, just use long pipelines. Can you even begin to imagine the planning/protest issues for all this. You are wrong to say that gas went from coal to North Sea. There was an intermediate period - quite long actually - in the early sixties when coal gas production ceased and we used oil/steam reforming which led to a useful gas and loads'a money and led us into north sea gas. But back to the point. There seem to be two issues of dispute. Firstly, are there any definite examples of frackers being sued in the US for pollution. References welcome. Secondly, this issue of area. Shale gas wells descend about a mile deep and deviate by about a mile. If there are four or forty wells that means that each "pad" must be about a mile apart - that is, the 400 acres so often quoted. Looking forward to being proved wrong.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

1987 court cases are your only proof ?
What is commonly meant by fracking these days is slipwater fracking and that was not invented until 1998.
... Most of the thousands of slipwater fracking projects were done in the last 8 years.
.. But if you have solar scams, wind scams and green investments to sell, you'd be desperate to kill an industry which takes no subsidies and competes you out of business

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:45 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Mr. Mike Jackson

http://www.frackingcanada.ca/fracking-calgary/

This is a man after your own heart. He even says that fracking fluid is so safe he has drunk it. No doubt he mistook it for some orange juice.

Many people used to think serving on city council wasn’t worth a bucket of warm piss, as Roosevelt’s first vice president, John Garner, famously described his job.

... Most people might rather watch an evening of Survivor reruns than go to a council meeting in their city. But not anymore. Not in Colorado since the invasion—or threat of invasion—by the oil industry into cities and towns up and down the Front Range. Colorado city council chambers now are flooded with citizens outraged by the regal indifference of the industry and their swarm of drones who are found at every level of local government, right up to the Governor himself, John Hickenlooper, who bragged to Congress not long ago that fracking fluid was safe to drink. He knew because he had drunk some to no ill effect. This caused a local wag to proclaim, “the jury’s still out until somebody does an independent study of the Gov’s brain function, ’cause there’s obviously some crazy chemistry working up there.”

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Mr Mike Jackson

I guess you missed the part about the Encana statement. I mean they would have missed that too. I'm so sorry I don't have all the cases at my fingertips. Nor all the cases that are sealed and that have non-disclosure agreements. Anything to promote denial is fair game for the certain stratums of our world.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Here is Cuadrilla's Preese Hall site:

http://goo.gl/maps/u01xH

About the size of a football pitch - 50mx100m, or just over an acre. You might see it from the train, but I think your eye would be caught rather more by this business:

http://www.countrystorage.co.uk/

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

These are the comments that we all love to read.

"There was a presentation posted a few months ago about Fort Worth which showed a discrete shale well-head between a golf course and playing field. It also quoted approx 1900 wells drilled within the city limits which, per your comments, would make the place look like one giant refinery."

Idyllic. Reality unfortunately is usually a bit more brutal.

http://www.frackingcanada.ca/fracking-calgary/

But the state remains unconcerned, since these wells will employ storage tanks and other technology, called green completion, for holding the chemically laced wastewater and flaring off some of the fugitive methane. Under this scenario, no further review is required by the state. Cumulative impacts are religiously ignored. And this is what the industry and state call the toughest regulations in the nation. Pity the nation, but pity the people of Greeley even more.

"With regards to truck traffic and water use the South Greeley site would require almost double the truck trips and material required for the Mid Town site since it has almost twice the wells. It’s quite possible that given the volume of water required the city might extend city water lines to these sites. Even so, about 50,000 truck trips would be needed during construction and 10,000 truck trips annually during operations to collect oil and wastewater. Some might consider this significant from a local and regional impact standpoint."

I mean really, who wouldn't want that in their neighborhood except some intemperate spoiled unemployed teenagers who have nothing better to do than whine and cry about things they know nothing about.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Vernon E

I used to walk down to the Thames with my mother, where the local gas plant was located. It was supplied with coal by barge (and also had a coal refinery producing other feedstocks). Whilst it is true that there was also some reforming of LDF/naphtha into gas, it was far from the dominant source. The gas plant closed when we got North Sea gas. We converted our house from coal fires to GCH around the same time.

Chart 4.1 has the history:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65896/1_20090729135638_e____dukes60.pdf

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Vernon E:

The FLAGS pipeline is 280 miles just from the Brent field to Peterhead. The pipelines South to the markets for the gas run another 400 miles or so just to get to the Manchester area. I don't think that being less than 100 miles from a coastal gas processing plant is a problem. There are reasons why we tend to site power stations on the coast too.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Vernon E,

Forgive me but it now looks as if you are dancing about a bit. Can you tell me exactly what you mean by:

…Shale gas wells descend about a mile deep and deviate by about a mile. If there are four or forty wells that means that each "pad" must be about a mile apart - that is, the 400 acres so often quoted. Looking forward to being proved wrong.

It’s not clear what you’re saying.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:49 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

I know, we could take all the fracking fluid and put it in your drinking water. I mean that is certainly what your argument is suggesting

The biggest problem with putting fracturing fluid in your drinking water isn't that it contains some chemicals to make it slick. It's that it wasn't proper clean filtered chlorinated drinking water in the first place. That's why you'd be best not to drink it, although a few gulps probably won't kill you.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

…Shale gas wells descend about a mile deep and deviate by about a mile. If there are four or forty wells that means that each "pad" must be about a mile apart - that is, the 400 acres so often quoted. Looking forward to being proved wrong.
It’s not clear what you’re saying.

Some people can't think in 3D - this guy can't even think in 2D. Truly a stranger to geometry.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Replicant, you're posting a load of scaremongering, badly researched shite.

Executives drink fracking fluid.....

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/10/31/haliburton-fracking-fluid/?__lsa=a873-3443

How many old people are you aiming to have die from the cold next year?

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

In May 2011 then Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson, testified under oath in congress stating "I'm not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected drinking water"

It must be noted Lisa Jackson, an Obama appointee is by no means a supporter of the industry having been an active political environmental activist before her appointment to head the EPA. Indeed she resigned her EPA position when a freedom of information demand of EPA emails showed she regularly and frequently coordinated EPA actions and policy with environmental groups while using a false identity.

Natural gas is occasional present in drinking water. Natural gas is ---well--- its natural. It occurs in the ground naturally. Commercially viable natural gas deposits are usually associated with some sort of geological trap, otherwise the gas would have dissipated over millions of years. But these traps are not leak-free. Small leaks allow natural gas to escape the geological trapment and percolate upwards reaching in some cases the very shallow aquifers that are tapped by shallow drinking water wells. Over eons some portion of the leaking natural gas becomes absorbed into the aquifer water. This means some places where natural gas is found, some of that natural gas is found in shallow aquifer water.

Gas companies searching for natural gas are wont to drill where natural gas is located. Hence the "association" of natural gas infused water and fracking.

If the environmental activist head of the EPA has no evidence of fracking contamination of drinking water aquifers, I think it is very reasonable to think such contamination rarely if ever occurs.

Jan 31, 2014 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAbuzuzu

Discussion starting to go round in circles now. Think I'll just leave it and await further developments.

Jan 31, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

In the meantime, the BBC was in full 'renewables are wonderful' mode this morning, with a reporter at a school (somewhere) which had solar panels on the roof - all the pupils were busy with laptops (bought with the proceeds of the free electricity - I kid you not) - doing graphs and such showing how much electricity the panels were producing (at that time in the morning, 'A big fat ZERO' as the reporter cheerfully admitted) - and an interview with the head teacher on how all this was helping the kiddywinks to be 'better citizens'....
No mention AT ANY STAGE as to how much the panels had cost; how much electricity they produce at night or on a cloudy day; how long they would last; etc etc..
The presenter even managed to drop in that wind had produced 'Ten per cent of the nation's electricity' during December...
I'd love to see the actual figures..
Boy - have we got a long way to go..!

Jan 31, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Well it may be bull. But it is a lot better that that bull pretending the groundwater is perfectly safe from fracking. Actually that's not bull, that's outright lies.

Jan 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

The Truth Behind The Dash For Gas, Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKkETCB-bQ4

Jan 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Vernon; if you do return, please bring some hard info with you.
The only Ryan Duman that Google found has just started work as an energy analyst after completing his Masters last year. His thesis was on Shale economics and the conclusion closed:
" Overall, while there are many concerns regarding shale gas economics and the possibility for certain circumstances to change in the future, the prices, costs and production performance data as of 2011 show that shale gas production in the Marcellus Shale is profitable. The current profitability of shale gas production coupled with the prospects of future actions to help to increase the demand for natural gas will result in natural gas production from places like the Marcellus Shale being economically viable for years to come."
No idea why you reference landfill gas.
TTFN

Jan 31, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Abuzuzu; it is my understanding that gas in shallow aquifers can also come from biological processes therein, rather than seeping up from below. A documentary last year showed gas being tested to see if it was "biogenic" in origin to differentiate it from deep-source methane.
I'm on uncertain ground here...hopefully someone can shed more light?

Jan 31, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

the groundwater is perfectly safe from fracking

No untreated groundwater is safe to drink by modern health standards. The additives are the least of your problems.

But that isn't the issue. It never was the issue.

All drilling, all holes in the ground below a certain depth, whether it be drilling oil wells, gas wells, geothermal wells, water wells, building foundations, rail tunnels, underground carparks, geological probes .. whatever, have to comply with regulations regarding possible water table contamination. And the scrutiny on oil and gas operations is enormous compared to the other types.

But the biggest stupidity of all the "anti-fracking" nonsense is the idea that a frac job , during the completion process after all the drilling has been done and casings have been run, that somehow this frac job deep below the water table is more dangerous than the drilling (regulated as it is).

Let's face it, nobody outside the industry had ever heard of a frac job until they encountered scaremongering about "fracking". And whether they heard it on the pop media, or the BBC or just looked it up on the internet, the overhwelming impression is that it's dangerous, dodgy, new, "controversial" at the very least.

Because for anti-drilling, anti-hydrocarbon, anti-whatever activists, "drilling" is an everyday word and just not scary enough. "Fracking" now - there's a new word they can own. And so it has come to pass.

Jan 31, 2014 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

"No untreated groundwater is safe to drink by modern health standards."

If you had some standards or studies that stated what modern health standards were being breached, then that would be definitely worth discussing. But to just plant a spurious and ridiculously broad statement as fact amounts to nothing more than a that's just a complete bald faced lie not worth discussing. Perhaps you could get a politician somewhere that even claims that. I mean here in Canada we have several politicians who regularly claim that the Athabasca river is no more dangerous to drink than it has ever been. I wouldn't suppose you would be basing that claim on the same health standards now would you?

"The additives are the least of your problems."

That is certainly not the least of the problems. But it is one of many problems.

"All drilling, all holes in the ground below a certain depth...have to comply with regulations regarding possible water table contamination."

I'm certain they do. But that is not the point. When government regulations are so arbitrary and ill defined that they allow both Ottawa and the Alberta government to claim that all the pollution in the Athabasca river is naturally occurring based on proprietary data collected by an industry-funded group. Like you with your opening statement, the government of course wouldn't release any studies to back up this remarkable statement. Just another bald faced lie by bald faced liars. There aren't really arguments one can make when faced with people like this because they will simply add another lie on top of another until their opponent gets tired. They have all the time in the world on their side. After all, the oil sands aren't going anywhere.

"frac job deep below the water table is more dangerous than the drilling"

That is exactly right. Much more dangerous. Posing a much longer term potential health concerns lasting perhaps centuries of polluted groundwater. Depending on how deeply adjacent rock layers have been permeated by the frac job. You can check out this page here (https://www.google.ca/search?q=shale+gas+fracking&biw=1280&bih=637&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JYXrUpb0C5H6oAT_k4DwCA&ved=0CFkQsAQ) to look at many picture of how frac jobs are done. The interesting thing about this page is that the vast vast majority (in fact really there are no other relevant links) of thinks are to sites that explain the dangers of fracking. Maybe one or two industry or government posted sites will agree with your claim. This is actually a good example of what the world thinks of your opinion. You might want to reflect on that for awhile and contemplate the number of very learned and intelligent people who comprise the world. Ublike you and the government who comprise of a very select minority interest group.

That's enough for now since the rest of you post is just a bit of repetition I can also stop here.

Jan 31, 2014 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Mikeh: OK I'm tempted back. I just don't understand where you are coming from. The Duman paper contains masses of useful data and there are many other supporting references. I think Duman's conclusion that you quote is spot on, but I think he does not address the issue that at the depressed US gas price the real money is being made from the co-products (eg petrochemical feedstocks to INEOS at Grangemouth. I have never doubted that money can be made from some fracking in the UK as a direct result of the inflated UK/European gas prices, but I am convinced that it will never be on a scale either to affect our dependence on imported LNG nor to affect the prices we pay. I am similarly convinced that we must either accept that our gas supply (and consequent electricity supply) will for many years to come be expensive and insecure, or we must our restore coal as primary source of electricity - no other options. I quoted landfill gas as an example of scientific novelty but with no impact whatsoever on the big picture. Please explain where you are coming from.

Feb 1, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Wealth does have it's privileges.

http://www.longridgenews.co.uk/news/environment/fracking-we-re-not-texas-mp-1-5219093

Dec 12, 2012
"He claims that revenue is more likely to go to the Duchy of Lancaster because it owns the mineral rights to much of the land fracking could take place on.The MP also says there are still too many unanswered questions about potential health risks from fracking."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9746491/Queen-could-benefit-from-shale-gas-boom.html

Dec 14, 2012
"Firms are preparing to start exploring for the new gas resources across vast swathes of the north-east, north-west, south and Scotland, after ministers lifted a ban on "fracking" this week. One of these companies, Cuadrilla Resources, is now considering whether to launch a new project in Lancashire on land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-24390753

Oct 4, 2013
The company said it would not seek consent to frack for gas at Anna's Road in St Annes and would restore the site to its previous condition. Cuadrilla's chief executive Francis Egan said the background to the move included "technical constraints related to wintering birds".

Isn't that just great? I'm sure every one here will certainly agree with the danger which exists to wintering birds from fracking. The residents have expressed much relief that they won't have to do battle as demonstrators have had to elsewhere. Wintering birds - yup, you read it first here folks.

Feb 1, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

I wonder if someone mis-heard Egan, and rather than saying "wintering birds", he actually said "wittering nerds" (or something else which rhymes)... ;-)

Feb 1, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Oops, more money prevents drilling on owner's land.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/14/fracking-lancashire-dairy-farmer-challenge

The environmental charity said a decision from the UK's highest court in 2010 enshrined in common law the right of landowners to veto drilling on their land.

Back then the supreme court ruled that a firm called Energy UK should have asked the multimillionaire Egyptian businessman Mohamed al-Fayed before laying pipes underneath his Surrey estate in Oxted. By not doing so, they had committed the crime of trespass, said the judges, awarding £1,000 compensation to Fayed.

Good ol', merry ol' England. Life goes on. Carry on up the Khyber Pass.

Feb 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Vernon E; I am trying to get you to provide some solid information for the image you have described a number of times, most recently in your post of Jan 30th:
< 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. >

Where does this vision come from? Can you provide reports or - better - some pictures? The large facilities you describe: give us a few examples. AFAIK the huge extra output in the US of gas, liquids and oil is transported to existing refineries (although new ones are in development to handle the increasing volumes).
As I said before, first-hand comments and other sources do not match your description at all.
The reference to Sullom Voe is nonsense. That is a world-scale oil terminal. Bacton is nowhere near as big but is still inappropriate.

Feb 1, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Follow the money - where it's not going.

http://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/our-programs/fracking/whats-wrong-with-fracking-2/mortgage-problems/

A Gas Lease Can Prevent You From Selling Your Property

"In a March 18, 2012 New York Times article, “Mortgages for Drilling Properties May Face Hurdles”, Ian Urbina reported that the Department of Agriculture is considering requiring an extensive environmental review before issuing mortgages to people who have leased their land for oil and gas drilling. This proposal by the Agriculture Department reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent."

ELISABETH N. RADOW, ATTORNEY AT LAW

http://ecowatch.com/2012/03/07/homeowners-and-gas-drilling-leases-boon-or-bust/

Homeowners and Gas Drilling Leases: Boon or Bust?

"Landowners often are unaware of the scale of operations of a gas well when they sign the leases. Aside from the visual impact to the property, with remnant drill pads and possible water contamination, the longer term concern of damage to property values and violation of mortgage rules must be taken in to account."

"Home Appraisal

All mortgage loans require a property appraisal, title insurance covering the lender or its assignees and homeowner’s insurance. Home and land appraisals are based upon like-properties, similarly situated, and are used to determine market value, the loan-to-value ratio and the maximum loan amount. Reliable appraisals of properties subject to gas leases are difficult to obtain and potentially prohibitively expensive; it would require a comprehensive title search of area properties encumbered by gas leases. Often a memorandum of the gas lease and not the lease itself is recorded, and a read-through of the entire gas lease is required to make a fair comparison between lease-encumbered properties. Underwriters need to evaluate the risks and know who pays for them; without the full lease in hand, they can’t make such an evaluation.13

Evaluating the driller’s identity can be another underwriting challenge; with unrecorded lease assignments, lenders don’t know who is performing the heavy industrial activity on their residential collateral. Federal Housing Authority guidelines for federally insured mortgage loans, which make up a portion of the secondary mortgage market debt, require that a site be rejected “if property is subject to hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, offensive sights or excessive noise to the point of endangering the physical improvements or affecting the livability of the property, its marketability or the health and safety of its occupants,”14 all of which are potential characteristics of residential fracking."

Feb 2, 2014 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Abuzu

In May 2011 then Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson, testified under oath in congress stating "I'm not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected drinking water"

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2013/06/06/confidentiality-agreements-prevent-fracking-contamination-claims-from-being-made-public/

"Confidentiality Agreements Prevent Fracking Contamination Claims From Being Made Public

Bloomberg reports on how confidentiality agreements with landowners across the country have helped protect drilling companies from bad publicity and allegations of pollution."

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2013/03/21/drilling-companies-agree-to-settle-fracking-contamination-case-for-750000/

"Drilling Companies Agree to Settle Fracking Contamination Case for $750,000

Range Resources, MarkWest Energy and Williams Gas agreed to settle a high profile contamination case in Washington County for $750,000, according to recently unsealed court records. An order to unseal the records was entered Wednesday in Washington County Court of Common Pleas by President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca. Judge O’Dell-Seneca reversed an earlier decision to permanently keep the more than 900 pages of court records secret."

Getting the message yet?

Feb 2, 2014 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

Mikeh: For like-for-like comparisons why don't you look up details of the Gronningen Gas Field in north east Holland, Europe's largest onshore gas field. It has produced fifty billion cubic meters per year since the early sixties, 150 mmcm/day - the sort of production we have to be talking about. The field is just as I have described - clusters of wells, gathering systems, manifolds, trunk line and huge processing facilities. The difference is that the pay zone is porous sandstone and each well averages about 2 mmcm/day - about one hundred times what shale wells are yielding.

Feb 2, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Vernon E; Groningen is a huge "conventional" gas field, as you are clearly aware - it is one of the 20 largest gas reserves in the world. Compared to shale, it is a very concentrated field.
You have been making your claims in relation to shale development. If you look at the US, shale plays are spread over a huge area: the Marcellus spans at least 3 states, for example. It is roughly 400 miles long.
The Groningen field covers only 900 sq km but its output is approx 8 times that of the whole Marcellus. It has only 300 wells compared to many thousands for the Marcellus. Those 300 wells are grouped on production sites - 29 of them, each about a hectare. Those compact sites do indeed have lots of above-ground piping, treatment units, compressors, etc but the main interconnecting pipework and the links into the national grid are underground.
So Groningen is far from being a like-for-like comparison for a shale field.
That said, it is interesting to look at how a few small production sites dotted across the field some kilometres apart can produce such a huge volume of gas.
I will try and find the old post which showed some images of shale production sites so you can see the difference. Or you could have a look on Cuadrilla's website at the pics of Elswick.

Feb 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Found it. This post from last year includes pics of production sites on the Barnett shale in Fort Worth:
http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/8/6/the-full-horror-of-shale-gas-extraction.html

Feb 2, 2014 at 10:40 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Mikeh

I wonder if people like you are trying to be funny, think they are doing due diligence, trying to sell their crap stock to gullible buyers or just don't give a flying rat. It's stupid to even mildly think that that is what a modern fracking well pad looks like. Ever looked like, or ever will look like. It's more than stupid. It's moronic. It's moronic like pretending the technology is so old it's been around since 1947. As if the 1947 job has anything to do with a modern fracking site. Here is a link to a comparison photo of the 1947 frac site a modern frac site.

http://frack-off.org.uk/if-fracking-has-been-happening-since-1947-what-is-there-to-worry-about/

Look at the photos in Radows presentation above.

Here's a youtube video of a modern frac site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPE2RU5099U

There are so many photos of a modern frac site that are easily found with the most childish of search attempts. Yet you have to really search for anything that remotely looks like your attempt a humour.

And this is not even considering the inherent stupidity of companies ignoring the fact that these shale gas wells don't even last long enough to recover anything remotely amounting to the money they have spent to make producing wells out of them in the first place. Almost any research which takes longer than a morning breakfast beak will tell you that. What it is, is wall street hype. If you frac an area, the gas you will get is the gass within that fracked zone. nothing more. then you have to frac the next zone. And the next, and the next. Virtually none of then last loner than a few years, and the vast majority have produced their money with in the year. Then the homeowner and taxpayer is left to fend off the legal and health issues that come with having his water table punctured by fissures leading down to the shale zone. Deal with an above ground mess of soil pollution and scars. That's the reality. Not that pretentious, idyllic and invisible image you promote. Why can't you own up to the very real dangers resulting from the inherent problems and resulting from the practice itself as well as from the gross negligence of the operators.

Feb 3, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

http://beyondeconomics.org/tag/fracking-diagram/

The Economics Fail:
Low Prices and High Depletion Rates

“We are all losing our shirts today… We’re making no money. It’s all in the red.” Despite its commercials, this is what ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said in July, 2012 to the Council on Foreign Relations.

http://oilprice.com/Interviews/Dont-Fall-for-the-Shale-Boom-Hype-Chris-Martenson-Interview.html

Don't Fall for the Shale Boom Hype - Chris Martenson Interview

So shale oil discoveries may be massive in terms of the total number of barrels of oil--but what they lack are high and sustained flow rates. And there's a lot of confusion out there in the press right now, with several analysts that should know better, waving their hands at increasing reserves and then making the utterly wrong conclusion that peak oil is a defunct theory.

http://oilprice.com/Interviews/Shale-Gas-Will-be-the-Next-Bubble-to-Pop-An-Interview-with-Arthur-Berman.html

The second thing that nobody thinks very much about is the decline rates shale reservoirs experience. Well, I've looked at this. The decline rates are incredibly high. In the Eagleford shale, which is supposed to be the mother of all shale oil plays, the annual decline rate is higher than 42%.

They're going to have to drill hundreds, almost 1000 wells in the Eagleford shale, every year, to keep production flat. Just for one play, we're talking about $10 or $12 billion a year just to replace supply. I add all these things up and it starts to approach the amount of money needed to bail out the banking industry. Where is that money going to come from? Do you see what I'm saying?

This is what really ticks me off. This issue is not even a matter of contention. All these bullshit arguments that you use are here for one thing only. For hype, and no other reason. Not even because of genuine interest. Bloody hell.

Feb 3, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

SHALE AND WALL STREET: WAS THE DECLINE IN NATURAL GAS PRICES ORCHESTRATED? FEBRUARY 2013
Deborah Rogers

http://shalebubble.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/SWS-report-FINAL.pdf

Companies start pulling out In spite of all the hype surrounding shale production, it is interesting to note the recent behavior of other industry players with regard to shale assets. In October, 2011, Norse Energy announced it was putting its 130,000 acres in New York State's portion of the Marcellus up for bid. Over a year later, in December, 2012, Norse Energy had not been able to sell the assets. This, coupled withhigh levels of debt, forced Norse to declare
bankruptcy under Chapter 11. Although there is a moratorium at present in New York State with regard to hydrofracking, it is generally assumed that fracking will be allowed at some point in the state. The fact that no other
energy company was interested in picking up these assets, however, indicates a distinct lack of confidence in the assets overall.

Either all you flakes are seriously on the hook for bad investments or you are paid by the hour to promote this wall street hype because it's the only jobs you could actually get that don't involve you having to earn your living doing something worthwhile.

Probably the best alternative now for these companies is to get the states to veto any further gas drilling. Then they could sue those same states and pretend that they lost millions of dollars because of greenies and wankers. That way the taxpayer is on the hook (again) and the last fool might still be able to get out with their shirts.

Feb 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterreplicant

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