People think it will lead to lower bills but its actually foreign companies that plan on selling it back to us. The best we can hope for in the next 5 years is standard inflation increases.
Public perception is tilting in favour of the UK exploiting its rich shale gas reserves, according to a survey conducted by the University of Nottingham. After asking thousands of Brits whether they backed shale gas in Blighty as a cheap source of energy, yes or no, and subtracting the negative percentage from the positive, …
No, you're understanding of economics is flawed. Deeply flawed. Hopefully not fatally so, but depressingly probably so.
Shale gas is not differentiated from non-shale gas. Adding the huge potential production from shale deposits will lower all gas prices. In the US prices have fallen to about $3.25/unit from a high around $10.50 in mid 2008 and a more typical price of around $8.00/unit prior to us unlocking our shale reserves. Furthermore, it because it can substitute for coal and oil those prices tend to fall as well. And the Warmists seem to prefer gas to coal on the environmental front.
Excess resources only lead to reduced consumer bills in a supply and demand environment. The global energy sector hasn't been a true supply and demand environment in a very, very long time. Supply is regulated to maximize demand, not allowed to flow unregulated.
Here in the States we've been fracking heavily for a while and the non commercial consumer impact has been either minimal or nonexistent to most individuals.
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I am an unashamed environmentalist, but very few things make me more annoyed than those who cry wolf with no evidence that a particular project or technique is going to cause any real environmental harm. In the case of fracking all the evidence points to it being a relatively safe and moderately clean method of extracting gas. The very few problems that have occurred in the States appear to be down to operators cutting corners.
If fracked gas can replace coal in power stations (and lignite in Europe), that is an environmental gain, not a loss. More importantly, it's a human gain, cleaner air is good for humans too, ask the Chinese.
As implied in the article, if environmentalists don't fight the right battles, there'll be no public support and belief over the really important things.
I have got to agree and I put the blame with modern sensationalist journalist these days and it is not only environmental causes that suffer look at bird flu and the huge sensation around that if it ever does become serious then we are going to be all too jaded to care until it’s too late. Oh well whatever headline sells the most papers.
>The very few problems that have occurred in the States appear to be down to operators cutting corners.
Problem is - corners are always cut, sooner or later.
The issue isn't 'Can fracking be carried out cleanly & safely?" but "Will fracking be carried out cleanly & safely?" Engineers can design safeguards, fail-safes, procedures, protocols. But they don't pay for them. The shareholders do - and if they can squeeze a little more profit out of cutting a corner, corners will be cut. That's been the history of fossil fuel extraction from day one.
>If fracked gas can replace coal in power stations (and lignite in Europe), that is an environmental gain, not a loss.
Depends. If more than 2% of the methane escapes, then the process is dirtier than coal - methane being a significantly worse greenhouse gas than CO2. I can't see how large scale fracking can make any claims about containing all the methane it disturbs.
I'm not sure the BP/Deep Water Horizon event has had much of an impact on safety. Transocean profits are soaring and BP is well on its way to wriggling out of its settlement payments. They've already been granted injunctions for some individual payments and are using that as leverage to prove all the payments are unjustified. It's a big, big mess. It isn't getting much front page coverage but a little Googling will bring it up.
If corners are cut to the point of failure, what's the worst case? Considerably less bad than it could be with a conventional free-flowing gas or oil well. Pre-frack, nothing comes out. No chance of a blow-out while drilling, which is the greatest risk with conventional gas or oil. Post-frack, a natural gas leak. Tight gas flow rates are quite low compared to conventional wells, which is why lots of them are needed.
Ignoring global warming, is there any energy supply technology that's less likely to cause environmental damage than tight gas accessed by fracking? As for global warming, yes, it's a fossil fuel, but natural gas is the least bad one.
I'd happily have a tight gas well in my back yard. (If literally that close, it would be like living with a building site while it was drilled: I'd expect appropriate compensation for a noise nuisance). BTW with respect to Richter-3 earthquakes, I'm getting one every few minutes in my flat ever since the council installed speed humps on the road outside!
>If corners are cut to the point of failure, what's the worst case? Considerably less bad than it could be with a conventional free-flowing gas or oil well.
Naive. If the water table is breached, it's breached forever. Even the Gulf of Mexico will one day clean itself up. How long would it take for water-bearing rock, 1000' down, to rid itself of contaminants?
>Ignoring global warming
> is there any energy supply technology that's less likely to cause environmental damage than tight gas accessed by fracking
Yes - most of them, properly-run. I don't know where you get this 'tight' from. Fracking depends on stirring the pot, thousands of feet down, and hoping that the resultant changes feed gas into the general area you have extraction equipment. By design, it's much less containable than any other method.
I have to agree with you and have an upvote. I consider myself an environmentalist and reasonably well informed, and sensible enough to want to analyse the evidence first. Problem is there's a heck of a lot of people who don't and just have a knee jerk reaction or think that because someone works for an environmental lobby group of some sort they are such paragons of virtue that they will definitely and everything written must be the truth, ironically whilst usually assuring us the other side will definitely be biased because they have an agenda.
You get bigger earthquakes when a car drives over a speed hump near your residence. A fire engine at full emergency tilt over that hump is Richter 4-plus (Wikipedia: Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage. Moderate to significant damage very unlikely. Some objects may fall off shelves or be knocked over.)
They monitor for tiny quakes because of the theoretical risk that fracking might lubricate and activate an occult fault (one that's present underground but not visible on the surface). AFAIK to date, there has been no significant seismic event capable of threatening life caused by fracking. Pre-drill seismic prospecting will show up most faults before the drilling goes anywhere near them.
4.7 falls in the light category, but still can cause structural damage and definitely can be felt. The irony is that this was taking place within a hundred miles of the site of one of the most powerful faults in the US: the New Madrid fault. The last major quake associated with the New Madrid fault occurred in 1812 and could be felt as far away as New Jersey. Such an event today would cause billions in damage, but the brain trust at places like Halliburton have no problem with taking chances with other peoples lives. Hopefully, the companies involved in your country are honorable, but over here in the states we are at the mercy of wanted war criminals. I'm looking at you DICK Cheney.
> explicit detailed ciatation needed.
Ask an explicit question and you might get an explicit answer. The OP asked "What's the cause of those youtube videos of people igniting their water mains,". It could be any one of any number of videos on you tube. The locations could be anywhere from Turkmenistan to the USA.
Here's an abstract from a 1983 paper that might satisfy you:
Methane-rich gas commonly occurs in ground water in the Denver basin, southern Weld County, Colorado. The gas generally is in solution in the ground water of the aquifer. However, exsolution resulting from reduction to hydrostatic pressure during water production may create free gas, which can accumulate in wells and buildings and pose an explosion and fire hazard.
Alternatively, here is a 1951 report about public groundwater supplies in Illinois:
Methane gas is present in a number of groundwater supplies and on several occasions has caused severe explosions...
>> What's the cause of those youtube videos of people
>> igniting their water mains, if it isn't fracking?
>A pre-existing geological condition.
Maybe...in some cases the water table used for drinking water wells is not saturated with methane or other gasses (the vertical separation may be thousands of feet). When a fracking operation drills through a "cap" to get to the shale to be fracked, they surround the pipe (which will carry the gas) with a cement protective ring. Without this ring, methane from below the cap "creeps" up the side of the pipe until it reaches the water table. It then enters the water - because the water is an easier "escape route" than continuing up the side of the pipe.
A well-designed (i.e.thick enough and high quality cement) casing around the pipe prevents the gas seepage from happening. Bad or failed casings allow clean water to become saturated with gas - these are the flaming faucets that appear on YouTube.
How many cement casings fail? Some say that records from the frackers themselves indicate that 5% or so fail before completion of the drilling. Who knows? And how many will fail in a year? Or 2? Or after a very minor quake?
What are the real figures? Perhaps the fracking industry will someday reveal that to us.
Until then, we will just have to trust them.
Of course, if methane suddenly starts to come out of your faucet (when it never did before) you may not feel so trusting.
[warning: some technical details were simplified in order to prevent this post from being deadly boring]
"Bad or failed casings allow clean water to become saturated with gas - these are the flaming faucets that appear on YouTube."
Unless you can provide evidence for this I'm counteracting "NO THEY AREN'T".
Josh Fox, the maker of Gaslands, admitted that the taps they showed in the film were releasing methane way before fracking started locally.
"How many cement casings fail? Some say that records from the frackers themselves indicate that 5% or so fail before completion of the drilling."
And one of the top American EPA (their environment agency) guys admitted they don't know of a single case of water contamination due to fracking. That doesn't tie in with your 5% claim.
Most Greenies are their own worst enemies simply because of their unconsidered knee jerk reactions to just about anything.
Anyone who immediately replies to every question with ' No! You can't do that it will destroy the planet!' is going to have a serious lack of credibility, it's surprising that few of them have learned that.
Greenpeace et al are important for much of the work they do but too many of them are more in love with their ideals than with real issues and what is genuinely bad for the environment.
Maybe we should all regress a few hundred years and go back to a 35 year life expectancy and high infant mortality, perhaps that will save the planet.
The problem is the Greenpeace have been thoroughly infiltrated by commercial and political interests, none of which give a damn about the planet or its inhabitants.
Ecological concerns are today simply a euphemism for cynical commercial and political marketing.
Look at where the fat cheques come from, and what strings are likely to be attached.
"The problem is the Greenpeace have been thoroughly infiltrated by commercial and political interests, none of which give a damn about the planet or its inhabitants.
Ecological concerns are today simply a euphemism for cynical commercial and political marketing.
Look at where the fat cheques come from, and what strings are likely to be attached."
OK so were all agreed, fuck it lets do what we want and screw the future generations, yes?
Ok, then theres no need and 1000 ton of other regulations in place to stop illegaly/immoral actions.
If there is no future, lets just go nuts now, eh?
For the record, I'm probably on the pro-side of fracking and stuff, but this story suggests that you'd have to dig hard to find sites which mention that Cuadrilla is only searching for oil, and is only going to use conventional drilling, and then fails to mention any of those hard to find sources.
I've dug into it, and I can see that Cuadrilla said they're only looking for oil, but actually it seems they haven't ruled out using fracking if necessary - if the Guardian story below is anything to go by:
I'm not overly informed in this area, so maybe when applying for a licence, you can only be licensed for a specific method?
I'd love to bait the anti-frackers, but without solid sources contradicting what they're saying, that's a bit hard.
1. Quadrilla and independent economists have shown that fracking will not reduce gas prices. The cost of drilling thousands of wells, as each well runs out, is high, and can be higher in the UK than in parts of the USA where larger areas can be reached from one well.
2. The biggest danger is from the waste water. As the gas comes out, so does water contaminated with minerals from deep underground, including Arsenic and radioactive isotopes. Whenever that gets loose on the surface, it can contaminate ground water, and end up in our taps.
And you can get Cancer from breathing "Fresh" air
and every mutt on the street is a horrific child chewing monstrosity that should be muzzled
and you can catch AIDS of the ear, by listening to arseholes
Sensationalist headline, is sensationalist, until we actually do "something" we are doomed to sit round the table twiddling our fingers and doing Nothing while granny freezes her arse off in midwinter without fuel.
TL;DR Nothing in this world or the next is perfect or without risk ! ... minimising the risk is good enough for me ! and yes I live near a fracking site
"Quadrilla and independent economists have shown that fracking will not reduce gas prices"
Maybe if they reduced the "Politicians and their friends pension & investment fund" everybody has to pay with energy bill "green" surcharge the general public will get cheaper bills and in the worst cases afford to heat their homes in the winters.
> and can be higher in the UK than in parts of the USA where larger
> areas can be reached from one well.
Except the British shale reserves are aparently _much_ deeper than in the US so many more
wells can be drilled at different levels from one site here than over there.
So you don't let it get loose on the surface. It needs to be treated like it would be if it was effluent coming out of a factory. The oil and gas industry has plenty of experience of dealing with high-pressure conventional gas and oil wells that need no encouragement to flow, and they very rarely leak near the surface. A fracked tight gas well is a much more benign entity.
How to dispose of this mildly toxic water (which is probably safe enough to swim in, but not to drink)? I don't know what the regulations say. Personally I'd guess that the thousand-fold dilution you'd get even in the immediate vicinity of dumping it into the sea would render it quite harmless.
"Radioactive isotopes?" Are you implying that fracking is a new method of isoptope separation that doesn't require ultracentrifuge chains, etc? Or are you just referring to the Radon being produced with the fracked gas, just as it's produced with conventional gas? Yes, the gas that feeds your heating is measurably more radioactive than the air you breathe. (Unless you live in Aberdeen, in which case natural radioactivity in the local rock that the city is built from likely guarantees it's the other way around!)
"The biggest danger is from the waste water. As the gas comes out, so does water contaminated with minerals from deep underground, including Arsenic and radioactive isotopes. Whenever that gets loose on the surface, it can contaminate ground water, and end up in our taps."
It is also the case that the geological structures that in one place are suitable for fracking, are in another place outcropping at the surface where rainwater constantly erodes them and washes the same contaminants into the water table. In other places aquifers lie on top of or below other rocks which contain arsenic and radioactive isotopes. If you go down the show caves in the Derbyshire Peak District you will be exposed to Radon and the water running out of those caves in some cases ends up in reservoirs supplying Manchester.
While things may end up in our taps, that does not mean there is necessarily a risk, and hey, if it's diluted enough there may even be a homeopathic benefit :-)
Then get used to sitting in the dark. Successive governments have fudged UK energy policy by failing to replace closed down nuclear plant and where we are at the point that power cuts are a real possibility. If you like living reto-style a la middle ages then by all means protest but I'm sure a few weeks of power cuts will test your resolve.
I find the statement that "(fracking) does not pollute the water table" to be questionable at the very least.
Sure, it may be possible to claim that thus far, fracking installations following best practice haven't demonstrated statistically-validated risks of water table pollution. We don't really seem to have enough data to draw that conclusion, as suggested by research like the Pennsylvania surveys published earlier this year, along with concerns about China's planned shale gas exploitation strategy (see here) suggest that we're not yet at that point of saying "yeah yeah, it's safe, piss off Greenies".
One important issue with the surveys mentioned in the article is whether they used any filtering mechanism to determine what, if anything, the respondents knew about fracking before being surveyed. I think that would be a significant contextual indicator, which has to be taken into account when talking about "public opinion"...
(Also, I can't help but smile at Andrew's decision to use numbers from a survey whose methodology he clearly finds questionable...)
"whether they used any filtering mechanism to determine what, if anything, the respondents knew about fracking before being surveyed"
They used to do that, but they got tired of always getting "nothing" as response and figured that it won't change any time soon, so they stopped checking.
The day Joe Public actually knows something on the subject he's been quizzed about it will snow in Hell. And we'll have better politicians.
"I find the statement that "(fracking) does not pollute the water table" to be questionable at the very least."
Fracking takes place way, way, waaaaay, below the water table. The accusations of water table pollution relates to possibility of a poorly constructed well, ie not properly sealed and jacketted so gas or oil can leak out before it gets to the surface, or possible run off of the water used in the extraction process before it's cleaned and treated.
The former is just as likely with any sort of drilling/extraction as with fracking, ie not very, while the latter is pretty unlikely in the UK simply because of the enormous amount of regulations and red tape attached to any sort of commercial activity in the UK.
The likelihood that shale gas will end up not much cheaper than "conventional" gas is at least partly due to the huge costs in meeting the regulations and red tape requirements that the Govt. has/will apply to the processes.
One of the few things about any UK Govt. I have confidence in is the safety and environmental protection levels that will be enforced by our overly bureaucratic Govt.
I'm in favour of fraking, but the gas shouldn't be used for electricity production - converting gas into heat, into motion, into electricity, sent along long transmission lines, converted back into heat again. It should be sent straight to the consumer along the gas network to be converted directly into heat in one stage.
Not all electricity is used for heat, although those of us that use AMD chips are trying our hardest. You are right it's insane to use gas to make electricity to use it for heat, but I'm not certain many people who take this route do so out of choice. Is there much by way of economy 7 heating left in the UK? The majority of it was in social housing, much of which was or is due to be replaced.
Ideally the gas should be sold openly for whatever market needs it, this alone should make switching to a gas boiler & central heating more attractive.
"Hydraulic fracturing is decades old, and the impacts are well known: it does not cause detectable earthquakes, pollute the water table"
Depends on which media outlet you believe.
I saw a doc on telly showing clearly water polluted by gas. It was actually set alight! The water was so gasseous it looked carbonated.
"I saw a doc on telly showing clearly water polluted by gas. It was actually set alight! The water was so gasseous it looked carbonated."
Unless you are mr fucking fracking, don't bull shite about it having nothing to do with fracking, because quite clearly, you don't have a clue! You're only regugitating others "news".
"I saw a doc on telly showing clearly water polluted by gas. It was actually set alight! The water was so gasseous it looked carbonated."
If you mean Gaslands then most of it has been debunked, see FracNation for details.
And as I posted here before there are a few towns in the US called "Burning Springs" which were named long before anyone thought of fracking to get gas out of the ground.
1) I wonder what the views of fracking are of those near the Blackpool location.
2) I think the views of people would change if you asked them if they wanted fracking in their local area (on their back yard so to speak).
3) 100 years ago burning carbon fuel would have been perfectly harmless, so I’d give it some time before saying it's harmless!
4) Over the coming years we will be told how energy prices are going to through the roof and how we will run out of capacity to try and make us think fracking is the only way,
(I'm sure there will be many golden handshakes between MPs and fracking companies)
It's always yes to things like this....when its all a case of NIMBY!
Sorry to *POP* burst that bubble but does anyone seriously believe that bollocks from Dave and Co. about us getting cheaper energy? My left bollock! You think bankers a greedy, the energy companies make Mr E Scrooge ( pre Xmas Day revelations of course! ) look like the world's biggest philanthropist! It will be as expensive as gas is now and probably more costly knowing those greedy tight-wads a British Gas!
Having read Rik's recent article on global warming and now this from Andrew, I think they would make a great pairing for a deathmatch ;-)
I do like the fact that el reg allows a diversity in it's writers opinions unlike certain mainstream media which usually requires you to tow the 'party' line. It's a credit to both writers and editors.
Problems with fracking.
1. It is not cheap.
Oil companies in the US are losing their shirts on shale gas. They have had a supply glut since 2008 collapse in demand and no export capacity. The UK is not so blessed.
2. Nobody knows how much is there that can be economically extracted. Shale geology is very localised. Until we drill hole it is hard to predict what will come out. A hole 5 miles away will tell you very little. I would bet good money that 90% of what is claimed to be down there either isn't there or stays there forever.
3. Each well depletes very very fast, so to extract all the resource that is claimed would require 30,000 wells. That is a lot of holes and and a lot of disruption and a lot of contaminated water to dispose of. Also, although the risks of any given well suffering a blowout or bad cement job is low, multiplied by 30,000 it becomes disturbingly large.
4. As pointed out above, only a few percent of the methane needs to escape before NG becomes as bad a greenhouse gas source as coal.
5. All this hype is leading to the expectation that UK energy security can be fixed for a generation or more by drilling a few holes in the ground. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shale is the last gasp of the fossil fuel industry, expensive, unpredictable, and above all short lived. Money spent developing shale resources is money not spent on building sustainable energy supplies, or more importantly, building a resilient LOW ENERGY society. The cheapest energy in the world is the joule not dissipated.
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