Week Ending 30th June 2013
French company Total was reported as being the next energy giant to become involved in UK shale gas, seeking to buy in on existing licences as well as being impatient for next year's new licencing round.
The main news of the week, a rather undigestible triple-decker sandwich.
The long-awaited BGS report finally came out with a "new" estimate of 1,300 trillion cu ft of gas in the Bowland shale. The press were falling over themselves to suggest this could provide 40 years of UK gas supply.
There are several reasons why this is unlikely to be the case. Firstly the working figure in the reports for how much of this gas is extractable is 10%. In reality the US experience is that the real figure is likely to between 6 and 7%.
And how much of the Bowland shale is accessible? Drilling a few wells isn't going to get the gas to migrate. They will only be able to drill in maybe half the area. Unless they are going to drill in Preston, Manchester, etc etc centre. Let's say they can access 50% of the area. That makes only half of the resource available, 650 tcf. at 7% extraction rate they may, just may, be able to recover around 45 tcf. That is only 15 years of UK gas use, not 40.
And how many wells would that take? Industry figures for estimated recovery total gas per well are unreliable. Independent estimates have put it as low as 1 bcf (a mere billion cubic feet) recovered during the life of a well. 50% recovered in the first five years, and the other half dribbling in maybe over another 20 or 25 years. The implication is that even to extract 45t cubic feet it might take 45,000 wells! Looking at things this way shows how ludicrous the whole shale gas project is.
The second major news emerging on Thursday was the announcement of the community incentives or bribes to accept fracking. This was priced at 100,000 per exploratory well, and 1% of profits.The onus appears to be on the operators to manage this. No wonder at Balcombe and at Banks Cuadrilla are now swearing blind that their testing will not involve fracking, although it obviously does.
Thirdly, the EA announced they will be streamlining the application process for waste permits. By September they hoped to turn round applications within six weeks. And by February next year within 1 to 2 weeks. The message is clear. Public consultation will disappear.
The week ended on Sunday with an incredible outburst of cynical smear. The Mail threw as much mud as it could at FoE, putting false statements in their mouths and accusing them of dirty tricks, when what FoE have been doing is trying to get the EA and companies to comply with existing regulation. Add to this a pile of lies and misleading statements about fracking and I shall be surprised if we don't see some serious complaints to the press council about this.
On Monday, a new report by Duke University was trailed. This again links fracking with methane and other gas contamination of drinking water, with more data and testing than their earlier studies. The report is found to face fierce criticism from the industry. However the report, like its predecessor, found no fracking fluid contamination and suggested well failure as the likely cause rather than the fracking process itself.
Also in the US President Obama gave a disappointing endorsement of fracking in his Climate Action Plan, praising gas as a transition fuel.
Any opinions here not quotes from the
week's news reports are my own. Alan Tootill
News As It Came In with
hyperlinks to original stories
More info on acid jobs
North West homeowners could see the value of their property drop by 30% if the government continues to push fracking, a surveyor has warned.
Fracking can increase methane in drinking water, study finds
Telegraph: Drinking water contaminated by gas near fracking sites in US
USA Today: Fracking linked to well water methane
No fracking in Hants, says Green MEP
Communities could be cheated of shale gas compensation payments
French energy giant Total considering bidding for rights to explore for shale gas in Britain
Obama Climate Plan Touts Gas Fracking As "Transition Fuel," Doubling Down on Methane Risk
Oil firms face more red tape before drilling in UK
Ecotricity: Government flip-flops on planning policy
Potentially explosive scrapped fracking pipes spur Colorado state, city warnings
Guardian: UK shale gas survey likely to reveal reserves higher than expected
BBC trailer: UK shale gas reserves 'greater than thought'
Standard: Government bets on shale gas as data suggests 'far more' reserves
We're in the money! Britain has 'far more' shale gas than thought - but you won't sell your house
Fracking will not get economy growing – Greenpeace
The darkness behind fracking’s silver lining
Railways and shale gas to get Treasury boost
Osborne will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas.
DECC to be restructured
Communities to receive £100,000 for accepting a well on their doorstep
Official release of figures and community benefits
Environment Agency to streamline application process
UK shale gas estimates skyrocket
New shale gas resource figure for central Britain - the BGS announcement
IGas and Dart Energy lifted by UK shale gas reserves report
BGS/DECC Bowland Shale gas study
Shale gas - is there fracking loads of it?
Guardian - Styles says 25 years
Independent: Where do we dig? The trouble with fracking
Hype Check: Six reasons not to drink the fracking kool aid
Fracking payouts 'no compensation', Defend Lytham says
Towns and villages will be given 'bribes' of up to £100,000 to accept fracking in their backyards.
Fracking Opponents Gear Up For A Fight
Concern over fracking after shale gas found under North Yorkshire countryside
MEP Keith Taylor warns countryside would be ‘carved up’ in hunt for shale gas riches
UK Earmarked for Fracking, Massive Public Backlash On Horizon
Jim Armitage: Don't expect shale gas to cause economic explosions on this side of the Pond
It's full steam ahead for shale
Fallon says: Regarding water pollution, I’m not aware of any evidence from the United States that there’s been any water pollution there
B'pool Gazette: ‘There are going to be great benefits to communities’
The UK has among the best renewables resources in the world. Do we really need fracking?
Guardian comment: Fracking the nation: the dash for gas beneath rural Britain
Independent comment: This dash for shale gas should be Plan Z, not Plan A
Dr Stan Higgins (who?) welcomes boost for fracking in the North East
Should India go in for shale gas from hydraulic fracturing?
York worries about its heritage
Another developer claims not fracking an exploration well - Ballinlea
Fracking faces tough foes in leafy Sussex
Dart claims to abandon fracking, no relenting on CBM
Dart claims to abandon fracking, no relenting on CBM
Mail launches vicious tirade of pro-fracking and anti-FoE lies
Independent guest comment: It won't be shale gas that keeps the lights on
CA: Fracking near Shafter raises questions about drilling practices
Fears over permission to release gas at methane project