The UK government on Tuesday backed the exploration of shale gas nearly one year after it temporarily banned the drilling method which triggered two earthquakes in Britain but that has also revolutionised the U.S. energy market. An expert report commissioned by the government said shale gas fracking, a process where pressurised water and chemicals are pumped underground to open shale rocks and release trapped gas, was safe to resume with tighter rules on seismic monitoring and drilling surveys. –Alessandra Prentice, Reuters, 17 April 2012
Lancashire is set to become the centre of Britain’s energy future, after regulators gave the green light for fracking to return. A report published today by the Department for Energy and Climate Change said that energy giant Cuadrilla Resources should be allowed to restart work at its drilling rig in the Lancashire countryside. –Lancashire Evening Post, 17 April 2012
Chris Huhne in particular is renowned for his uninhibited antagonism towards natural gas. At the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham last week he promised to halt a new “dash for gas” because it would undermine the UK’s unilateral climate targets. David Cameron would be well advised not to allow his green minister to squander Britain’s golden shale gas opportunity. –Benny Peiser, Public Service Europe, 27 September 2011
Ministers have been advised to allow the controversial practice of fracking for shale gas to be extended in Britain, despite it causing two earthquakes and the emergence of serious doubts over the safety of the wells that have already been drilled. The advice of the first official British government report into fracking, published on Tuesday, is all but certain to be accepted by ministers, with the result that thousands of new wells could be drilled across the UK. Some groups – including The Global Warming Policy Foundation, the climate-sceptic thinktank led by Lord Lawson – have been enthusiastically advocating the take-up of the technology. But residents in the areas affected have been mobilising against the plans. –Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 17 April 2012
Many of those who oppose fracking do so not on the basis of the evidence, but out of a more general hostility to fossil fuels. Yet shale gas is relatively clean, and far more secure than other supplies. Sadly, our enthusiasm (in contrast to the Americans’) has been distinctly half-hearted. –Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 17 April 2012
Can the green lobby win the shale gas argument over environmental objections? I don’t think it can. Ten or 20 years ago it could have won when governments were willing to burn billions, but the economic climate has changed, we’re facing the biggest crisis in decades. No government in the world would give up this opportunity, not even the British government, which is very green indeed. I don’t think the Greens have a leg to stand on when it comes to shale. Shale shouldn’t have any big problem and in all likelihood the government will grasp it with both hands. I cannot foresee a situation where Europe will forgo this golden opportunity. –Benny Peiser, Natural Gas Europe, 25 October 2011
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The earthquakes were extremely small and did no damage, and their link to drilling is not definitive.
It is a nice step in the direction of reason to permit the drilling to go forward.
Huhn “the green minister”. Did you mean the green monster?
Shale gas is a green gas. It’s chemical formula is CH4. One carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. When it burns 2 water (H20)molecules are formed for each CO2 molecule while energy is produced. Coal is pure carbon and it’s combustion is pure CO2 for the same amount of energy produced by CH4 therefore coal is ‘bad’ when it comes to the supposedly AGW theory (found very much lacking if not proven to be false).
Other fuels such as oil and higher molecular weight gases have higher CO2 to H2O ratios than CH4.
I do not know why green/environmentalists have to make such a fuss, unless they want to drive us back to the stone-age.
Rosemary Nankivell says
Farmers oppose coal seam gas extraction because of depletion and contamination of aquifers, excessive infrastructure. It is yet to be scientifcally proven that gas extraction does not release less greenhouse gases than coal extraction. Shale gas is slightly different in that shale gas is found much deeper into the ground. All wells have to be fracced and this has resulted in water contamination and depletion in many parts of America. As yet there is no solution for the disposal of accompanying salts and toxic chemicals found in the brine which must be extracted to release the gas. Injection of this waste water has resulted in seismic events in most locations where this is practised. It is also unfortunate that quite a senior member of British Parliament is allegedly in the oil and gas business. I certainly don’t want to go back to the Stone Age but alternative forms of energy that will not impact upon water must be explored.
Schiller Thurkettle says
The future of fracking in the UK may not be as rosy as the author thinks. Natural gas will compete against solar and wind power, which are the darlings of the Green Left. Their vested political and financial interests will fight back.
John Sayers says
The production company that produced the anti global warming movie “Not Evil Just Wrong” are currently producing a pro fracking movie FrackNation.
They claim most of the bad press Fracking has received is wrong. I must say I’m a bit confused.
George B says
What is ironic is that I am old enough to remember watching US President Jimmy Carter talking about the promise of “oil shale” on the television in the late 1970’s.
I am confused too!
There seems to be a lot of emotion and a lack of evidence swirling around this one.
If it can be done responsibly and it does not create negative third party impacts then I’m not sure why there is a problem?
Fear mongering does not produce sensible debate or good outcomes.
I’m all for coal seam gas as long as it doesn’t contaminate our OZ water table and doesn’t occur on the best farming land.
Seems like concern for the environment etc in the US has gone off the boil lately. Here’s the latest Gallup poll on these matters and AGW dead last. Or is that CAGW as per Luke and Gav?
John another says
Like the insane thresholds that the nuclear industry is held to compared to natural radiation, the .05 Richter (a big truck hitting a pothole) limit that fracs would be held to won’t be discernible amongst the much greater background seismic activity. It’s going to be interesting how this plays out in the media and the Government. Regardless of out come, the already ridiculously costly fracs just got a lot more expensive. But then that’s how environmentalist approach everything. If they can’t stop it they will damn well make it as expensive as possible. It makes ’em and their lawyers sleep well for some reason.
(Yes, I for one, refuse to use the media misuse for the contraction of the industry term for ‘hydraulic fracturing’ No ‘K’ involved).
“I’m all for coal seam gas as long as it doesn’t contaminate our OZ water table and doesn’t occur on the best farming land.” well pity it can. But I didn’t say I was inherently anti-CSG either.
“Here’s the latest Gallup poll on these matters and AGW dead last.” Of course witch burning would have been popular once too – and phlogiston. Don’t think public popularity polls determine physics.
Johnathan Wilkes says
@Luke “Don’t think public popularity polls determine physics.”
Certainly not on physics Luke but they do have an enormous influence on politicians, hence on government policy.
Don’t want to sound totalitarian but I seriously think the voting system should be reformed in some way.
Alex, if you are serious in your comment (ie not tongue in cheek) then I am sorry to say you do not know what you are talking about. All coal has some hydrogen, some oxygen, some nitrogen and some inherent moisture. Even coke (from coal), char (from coal which has little fluidity), petcoke (made in oil refinery coker units) and charcoal (made from woods or coconut shells) has some hydrogen. Those scientists who believe in greenhouse gas know that water vapor makes up over 95%. Thus if you believe in greenhouse gases than burning of methane (from oil & gas wells, from shale or from coal seams) actually results in more greenhouse gases for the same usable energy than a good quality (ie exported for power generating boilers or as coking coal for smelting) black coal. Some of the oil and gas companies want people to believe it is a green gas so they have a market advantage over those nasty coal producers in Columbia, Poland, South Africa, Indonesia, India, China, Russia, Ukraine and Mongolia who will still keep digging it up even if the mines in Australia all shut down. However, with Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Thais (now own Centennial coal) buying up Australia’s mines there is little chance of coal exports ceasing or there would be a trade war which Australia can not hope to win.
Tony Price says
Chris Huhne and his “windbag” energy department believe we should “frack” some gas, but export it, and import more expensive oilfield gas from overseas, which would of course mean a negative balance of payments. Only in the mind of loony eco-freaks does less equal more. I don’t think “buy high, sell low” is a recipe for success, but of course I’m just an evil denier who doesn’t understand economics.
Rosemary is mistaken in her critiques of natural gas from shale. Modern techniques do not contaminate or deplete water, impact land much less than wind or solar for equivalent amounts of energy, and definitively produces less pollution than coal.
As far as how people make their living, is it any greater conflict for an MP to make a living from gas than it is for one to make a living from wind?
At least with gas the industry does not require direct government operating subsidies and guarantees.
As to competition, let’s remove the guarnateed over-market purchase agreemnts from wind, as well as the environmental exclusions irt wind’s bird destruction, landscape destruction and noise, and see how things go.
As to earthquakes, again: where is the damage?
Schiller Thurkettle says
Fracked gas competes against all other sources of energy. Which means all other sources, ‘green’ or otherwise, have a financial interest in stopping the gas boom. One of their tools in the toolbox is using NGOs to spread the anti-gas message. Any questions?
From reporting and submissions on this one, it looks like emotion and confusion will reign once again!
The current political/media agenda is extra ordinarily talented at doing this.
I guess polarising debate is good politics and sells papers and collects donations?
Note I made no mention of implementing good policy!
Another of the darlings of the shonky warmanista sect is now exposed for the fraud that he is.
From all the hype that has surrounded Suzuki, he must have won multiple Nobels but all he is fly genetics…along with about a million other Phd candidates. So he knows bugger all about climate science..almost as much as that crook Al Gore
I have a tip for the wamanistas scientific fraternity…the sooner you all grow back bones and put this scam to rest, the better because it is not doing science and academia any good at al.l
You need to be putting muzzles on your moron rat bags like Suzuki, Flannery,Hansen, Jones, Lewandowksy and Hamilton etc
Muzzles are definitely needed.
Genuine and useful scientific work is being badly tarnished by the Flannerys et al of this world.
Good people and their good work is now being dismissed and needlessly abused.
We need a campaign to Muzzle the Morons so the good can shine through.
It wont be helped either by this new academic outlet called the “Conversation”
Aussies need to turn their well known b/s detectors back on, and reject this Laborite, greeny water melons and indolent media driven nonesense.
The next election will give it a good flush down the gurgler, but not before even more damage is done to what was once a great country.
Every day brings a new revelation as to what a scam GW is, and what a crock the carbon tax will be..
John Sayers says
Here’s in interesting study by Cornell University.
Back when I was a young bloke, with a real job, I once had a great secretary. She understood the yes no principle.
When answering a suggestion, or proposition I did not like, I would simply tell her yes/no because of this this & this. She could write me a letter where I sounded very enthusiastic & helpful, but just needed a few minor things sorted.
These things were of course insurmountable, but people thought I was a really nice helpful bloke, HAH.
With the seismic restrictions placed on this fracking green light, it sounds to me like a few others use the same technique. This looks like it may be the sort of approval that is actually a no, to me.
The EPA, which is virulently opposed to gas and fraccing, and is a devout supporter of AGW, has never been able to prosecute anyone for any pollution by-product of gas extraction.
The reason for this is the presence of the gas in the first instance has already naturally ‘contaminated’ underwater deposits and there is no way of telling whther the extraction adds to that existing ‘contamination.
One of the most grotesque aspects of the gas controversy is Milne, Brown’s ‘Earthing’ replacement, saying she will stop the gas companies because the Greens are the farmers’ friend.
I would like to make it clear that I am not against the use of methane (from gas wells, shale fracking, coal seam extraction or other sources). It has a use in gas turbines for peak power, at coal mines methane drainage can be used in converted diesel engines to provide continuous power for mining, in a compressed form it can be used as a fuel in motor vehicles (although more expensive and less flexible than liquid fuels), it can be converted to methanol for chemical use and liquid fuel extender.
It is just that there are in the support of commercial and political interests lies being told about its good points eg “green fuel” or its not so good points (mainly high cost). These lies spread by poeple with little technical understanding invoke supposed science but gives science and technology a bad name.
At the present time in Australia (and other countries eg China around the world with easily accessible coal deposits) coal fired power plants near the coal mines give the cheapest electricity. In the long term nuclear power (possibly from Thorium fuel reactors and further out fusion of deuterium from seawater) will be the preferred way of base power production. In Australia we need to extend research on nuclear technology into power generation so when it is viable we will be prepared to take advantage of it.
Exactly right cement; it is a scandal that this witless federal government is going to give away $13 billion to wind and solar and such ‘green’ energy developments over the next few years and not even look at thorium.
People need to go to jail over this.
Minister for Truth says
Thanks cementafriend… lot of good common sense in those few paras
Perhaps when the Gillard Goons are tossed out of office we can do some serious planning nd investing for making use of our own uranium, or thorium, and at least develop the capability and knowledge for doing what in the long term has to be the way to go for power generation.
A handy article on modern Puritanism and self-loathing:
Tony Price says
I have no time for religion – who could believe in a god who puts the like of flim-flam Flannery, Suzuki and Hansen on this good Earth?, but I wonder why those who are think their god put the wealth of natural resources on and in this planet? Eco-loons like Kari Norgaard think dissent needs treatment, and exhibit the hypocrisy of the religion of global warming (now termed climate change, as it’s not global, and not warming). She and her ilk preach that the rest of us must be herded into urban ghettos to keep the countryside pristine and undamaged by the unthinking and destructive masses. I say the rest of us, because her bio shows she likes many outdoor pursuits. The hypocrisy of such people is breathtaking, like religious cult leaders who preach poverty and large donations to their “church” while living the cosseted life of millionaires, funded by the tithes of their flock. They all know what’s “best for us” but spectacularly fail to practice what they preach.
Rant over, and I concur with many opinions expressed in several rants here too. Australia is a wonderful country. Take it back from the likes of Gillard and her “climate commissioner” Flannery, and force the CSIRO to tell the whole truth, not cherry-picked and distorted versions of it. As I said, I think Oz is a wondeful country, but I wouldn’t want to live there. it may have pubs, but it’s also got Flannery, and I might have the misfortune to encounter him measuring the distance between high-water mark and his front doorstep. I have my standards you know.
BTW, do you have local “climate control officers” where you live? They should all be sacked, as clearly they’ve spectacularly failed to perform their jobs. It’s spring here in the drought-ridden UK – the effects are catastrophic – it’s bloody cold and there’s a hosepipe ban. Will this misery never end?
Tony Price says
I should have added (I sometimes get carried away with by own breathtaking rhetoric, and forget to breathe, or something) that claims of widespread water contamination in fracking operations are never accompanied by something trivial like facts. Small earth tremors are produced naturally and by coal-mining and hydro-electric/water-supply dams, and not just fracking (Did the earth move for you darling, or was it just Conoco Gas up the road?). Studies purporting to show that gas leaks amount to as much as 10% of gas produced are flawed,and have been discredited. No drilling or pipeline company would allow more than a tiny amount of their profits to leak away.
Methane is a clean, non-toxic fuel. Burning it in engines produces water and CO2 only. Technology exists to power vehicles with it, and while there are some problems, like the weight of gas cylinders, those cylinders weigh far less than even a small-range battery pack. It’s far more sensible and efficient than electric or hybrid vehicles, both of which have inherent power losses in the fuel-to-electricity and charging-to-use chain. Hybrids like the Prius carry the weight of 4 adults (the petrol engine) around when running on battery, and 5 adults (the battery) when running on petrol. it’s getting kinda crowded in there, and I’d prefer a vehicle which looked good on the road, not when plugged in for a sizeable chunk of the day.
Batteries in current use are very temperature sensitive – when it’s very cold their capacity drops to as little as half to two-thirds, and that just the time you’d want the heater and demister on. I wouldn’t mind driving a car called the CH4 which could be filled up in just a few minutes more than a petrol or diesel one.
John Sayers says
The gas cylinder problem has been solved by the use of Kevlar cylinders as in the new Tata air powered Mini CAT.
these cylinders can hold up to 5,000psi and tear instead of exploding.
Tony Price says
Thanks for that nugget and link John, it reinforces (what Kevlar does!) my argument. For years I assumed there must be some technical problem with using methane in reciprocating engines, which is why it wasn’t being developed to any extent. I suspect there’s a hidden agenda here. I wonder if we’ll ever see the day when many filling stations have their own little well and storage tank?
I’ll add a little to my previous comment; wastage during production equates to loss of pure profit, which is why companies spend much time and money minimising it. Reducing leakage, wastage, and faulty production reduces the cost per unit and maximises profit. They might be evil capitalists, but they’re not stupid, perhaps even conservationists at heart.
‘One of the most grotesque aspects of the gas controversy is Milne, Brown’s ‘Earthing’ replacement, saying she will stop the gas companies because the Greens are the farmers’ friend.’
I know this is unkind of me but I can’t help it….
She bears a remarkable resemblance to Professor Umbrage in the Harry Potter movies both in appearance and mannerisms.
If you haven’t seen it, this particular lady presents as sweet and friendly and on the surface she appears to love her new position as headmistress of the school and she appears to like students.
However….it unfolds that she secretly hates children and takes much pleasure in incessantly torturing them and using her position to do so.
I am rather appalled that farming rep groups would consider aligning with Ms Milne and her deputy A Bandt. A short trip through their speeches and also through the Green’s policy statements reveals quite clearly that they are most certainly NOT the farmers’ friend. 🙂
It is rather grotesque.
I do not know a great deal about the CSG debate. However, I am highly suspicious of the rhetoric that is developing around it….I am having a bad case of deja vouz.
Looks like I am going to have to do some research….sheesh!