Category Archives: Media

No Deathbed Conversion: My view on onshore UK gas

August is the traditional peak of the silly season when the UK media uses any number of tenuous, out dated or too often, simply bored attempts to feed the maw of the media machinery. With audience and grown ups away, the field is opened up to a new crop of writers misguided enough to still see some romance in the formerly noble métier of journalism.  Many of them are “interns”, or what anyone in most jobs recognise as “slaves”, but the alleged riches of “making a difference” drag them in every summer. Continue reading No Deathbed Conversion: My view on onshore UK gas

Coal to gas

A key trend of 2012 will be the acceleration from coal to gas in generation.  That’s a win for the environment and a win for energy security. Most people don’t realise that in 2009 for example, 70% of UK coal was  imported and 70% of that came from Russia. Coal prices soared in 2010 making imports less attractive but still 50% of the total.   

Coal has been around so long that the energy experts who missed shale gas haven’t thought about coal either. Coal was always considered to be so prevalent and cheap that it was the first choice for electricity generation worldwide, especially in emerging countries. China and India were considered so desperate to electrify on cost alone that the expert opinion of coal as the fuel to beat was as cast in stone as the idea that natural gas was expensive and insecure.

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Cuadrilla’s Oz partner trades again

AJ Lucas,  the Australian drilling services provider has had shares suspended since May for other reasons, but trading starts Wednesday Oz time. AJL is the only way of outside investors getting into Cuadrilla Resources the UK company which  has had some promising initial results and estimates in Lancashire, so they are naturally interested in talking up their investment.  AJL holds 42% of Cuadrilla, with the rest held by hedge fund Riverstone and the management team. So we shouldn’t be surprised if the CEO of AJL tells the Sydney Morning Herald

If the science is what we think it is, it’s a very substantial resource,” the chief executive of AJ Lucas, Allan Campbell, tells BusinessDay. ”It comes down to what the rocks say – they’ve got all the answers.

Continue reading Cuadrilla’s Oz partner trades again

Shale Gas in the UK National Infrastructure Plan

Year ago, the UK used to have a Budget in spring sometime, and the UK press always treated it as a real big deal and literally hung on every word as providing some great story about the direction of public policy.  These days they seem to have in the Autumn Statement, and some papers still hang on it as if the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer actually means something in a world where ratings agencies havethe real power.The Autumn Statement is backed up a National Infrastructure Plan and the press have missed this action given to the Department of Environment and Climate Change: Continue reading Shale Gas in the UK National Infrastructure Plan

Europe’s Gas Demand Crisis is the gas OPEC’s problem too.

At a presentation in London yesterday,  Mike Hogg, General Manager of UK industrial supplier Shell Gas Direct said 2011 gas demand in Europe is down by over 10% in key countries such as the UK, Netherlands and Germany and over 5% in Italy, France and Spain. This is a particular rebuff to the demand side of the peak energy bulls, who would insist that we are in an eternal upward slope of energy consumption. While the economy is certainly a reason, high prices from oil linked contracts are acting as a brake on consumption. Let’s not forget this very important message as well: Coldest November and December in over a 100 years, yet domestic consumers also cut demand. The other conventional wisdom proved wrong is how domestic consumers don’t react to heating price signals.

Continue reading Europe’s Gas Demand Crisis is the gas OPEC’s problem too.

No Hot Air on Fracking in The Big Issue

One of the big mysteries to my readers is how does No Hot Air and make any money?  For the first three years the answer was simple: I didn’t.

I mention this en passant because when I told my wife last week that I had an interview with The Big Issue, her first reaction was “Are things that bad?”  However, it was for a fairly good and well balanced  piece for and against fracking in this week’s issue.  I’ll link to it when it goes online later this week, but for now please buy a copy from a vendor. Helping the homeless help themselves as they say.

On the subject of money, contrary to popular opinion I’m not supported by masses of energy industry money.  Given that I was years ahead of the curve and my small but influential readership and my history of making positive contributions to public policy that have de-risked multi-millions of shale investments, that surprises many people, myself included. I can’t help but notice that there are plenty of people in the energy industry who make a very good living being wrong, especially those who like to create big fear-ridden, scary sounding scenarios.  They of course can solve those awful futures simply by the application of large sums of money.  All I have to sell is common sense, but what value does that have?

I’ll put my violin away now, preparing it for possible future use on a street corner near you, hopefully not interfering too much with a Big Issue vendor’s patch.

We groan to absorb the most wondrous gifts: NY Times on Shale

Because today was one of those days I only got to read the physical International Herald Tribune, I’m a bit late on this one from NYTImes columnist David Brooks just published on line. Really good stuff straight from the start:

 The United States is a country that has received many blessings, and once upon a time you could assume that Americans would come together to take advantage of them. But you can no longer make that assumption. The country is more divided and more clogged by special interests. Now we groan to absorb even the most wondrous gifts.

David Brooks is one of the New York Times more conservative columnists, but still author of one of my favourite books of the century so far and someone I agree with far less than Krugman but also think he’s far more based in the world of reality than the exasperating Tom Friedman.

 This kind of balance is exactly what our political system doesn’t deliver. So far, the Obama administration has done a good job of trying to promote fracking while investigating the downsides. But the general public seems to be largely uninterested in the breakthrough (even though it could have a major impact on the 21st-century economy). The discussion is dominated by vested interests and the extremes. It’s becoming another weapon in the political wars, with Republicans swinging behind fracking and Democrats being pressured to come out against. Especially in the Northeast, the gas companies are demonized as Satan in corporate form.

He’s spot on here and read every word, it’s worth it. To those who can’t get past the Times firewall, I gave you the first paragraph and every word is great up to and including the final sentence:

It would be a crime if we squandered this blessing


Another report contradicts Howarth on coal v gas

Yet another report disputing the Howarth report assertion that the total environmental footprint of shale gas makes it no better, or even worse, than coal. This report from the University of Maryland on “The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation” basically compares shale gas with conventional gas.

 .. one of the perceived core advantages of unconventional gas—its relatively moderate GHG impact compared to coal—has recently come under scrutiny. In this paper, we compare the GHG footprints of conventional natural gas, unconventional natural gas (i.e. shale gas that has been produced using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’), and coal in a transparent and consistent way, focusing primarily on the electricity generation sector. We show that for electricity generation the GHG impacts of shale gas are 11% higher than those of conventional gas, and only 56% that of coal for standard assumptions.

Continue reading Another report contradicts Howarth on coal v gas