Shale gas replaces coal in steel making.

When I told people three and four years ago that the sudden emergence and future permanence of shale gas is the best news for the economy and the planet, I wasn’t thinking of stories like this on shale and the steel industry. This is as fundamental a shift to the steel industry as the invention of the Bessemer process in 1850’s. It also disrupts the world coal industry even more.  

World coal use is divided very roughly into coal for generation (lignite and thermal coal) and coal used as an intrinsic part of the steel making process, metallurgical coal or coking coal. On a global basis, about ten percent of coal is met coal. I’ve been trying to figure out the carbon implications of met coal use. On one hand, the process uses up  50% of the coal to produce the heat which fixes the carbon to the steel, which in this case can be seen as some sort of carbon capture and storage. That makes it harder to know the actual CO2 implication of this news from the US, as natural gas starts to replace met coal in steel making, where Voestalpline and Nucor are:

among at least five U.S. plants under consideration or being built that would use gas instead of coal to purify iron ore, the main ingredient in steel.

“That technology has been around 30 years, but for 29 years gas prices in the U.S. were so high that the technology was not economical,” said Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at consulting firm Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago. “This is how steel will be built moving forward.”

Continue reading Shale gas replaces coal in steel making.

UK Shale Gas needs new allies, not old enemies.

UK shale energy acceptance in the coming year will depend on a variety of sources supporting shale.The ultra greens like to pretend that any Frack Head as Andrew Rawnsley calls supporters are CC deniers from the right wing of the Tories and/or UKIP. Proof of how simplistic that analysis is, comes from how one of Andrew Rawnsley’s allies against fracking is Nick Griffin of the BNP.  Does that prove Andrew Rawnsley is a black shirt?  Of course not, but it doesn’t prove that supporters of shale can’t approach it from a left wing progressive analysis either.

Proof of this comes from a very welcome and important ally. David Miliband, for non UK readers, was the Foreign Secretary under Gordon Brown and narrowly lost the last leadership contest for party leader to his younger brother Ed. He’s given a platform in the home of the little England right wing, perhaps because he would be so off message at The Observer, despite his impeccable left wing credentials

My New Year’s wish is ..realise it’s better to admit you’re wrong and get things right than to plough on for fear of doing a U-turn and get things wrong.

Already this sounds like good advice to the Labour Party in particular and DECC and the Greens in general.

Continue reading UK Shale Gas needs new allies, not old enemies.

Why didn’t the EPA bark on shale gas and water?

I’ve often pointed out how silence can speak as loud as words in the shale debate. Last Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a preliminary report of it’s study into Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources.

The cynical may point out to the timing. Friday afternoon before Christmas is as good a time as any to bury bad news. But who is the report bad news for?  Allegations of water contamination lie at the heart of public concerns over shale. The debate has not lacked for emotive descriptions of actual or potential catastrophe from many quarters, repeated unchallenged in the press. Only one example here is Josh Fox, in France’s Libération newspaper

In France, media and politicians talk about the “miracle” of shale gas. What is it?

This is a nightmare. The use of these gases pollute the water, air and threaten health. Wells allow gas to escape and chemicals in groundwater.We can not grow anything. The landscape is devastated.

Significantly, even in a paper that makes the UK Guardian look like the Daily Express, the rest of Libé’s coverage has been very balanced. Certainly we have to ask ourselves how, in a mediaverse where US news events, meaningful and piddling alike are on continuous view thanks to rolling news, has anyone missed devastation,famine and poisoning on such a scale?

Continue reading Why didn’t the EPA bark on shale gas and water?

Will UK Shale Gas be Ugly?

A key objection to UK and European shale is that Europe is too crowded, a story any seach of this site will show I’ve addressed many times. According to the expert opinion, England’s Green and Pleasant Land could be re-industrialized thanks to shale gas, and it’s a valid question to ask. That was my immediate question when I first talked about shale here over four years ago. The debate isn’t informed by pictures of vertical wells in Wyoming and similar blots on the landscape in the parts of North America where there is a lot more landscape than here. But the Europe is too crowded for natural gas myth is prevalent and is used by those who are alleged experts (but are more interested in pushing nuclear or coal ) and those who admit their ideas of what a gas field look like comes from the movies. In our debate yesterday on Voice of Russia Radio, Vanessa Vine of Frack Free Sussex and Fiona Harvey refused to believe UK shale gas development wouldn’t look like a return to the industrial revolution. This picture of Jonah Field in Wyoming, a 1990’s tight gas field has been used by not only shale antis but also by the BBC and Telegraph. Who would want to live here? Not me for sure, but the US doesn’t all look like Wyoming, as not all the UK looks like the Cotswolds either.

Continue reading Will UK Shale Gas be Ugly?

Barclay’s on UK Shale Gas Price Impact

As I noted last week, the FOE, Caroline Lucas and Greenpeace have a habit of holding up a Deutsche Bank report from 2011 as proof  UK and European shale gas will be far off and inconsequential on price. Even Tim Yeo, who should know better, mentioned the uncertainty of European shale this morning on Radio 4 Today. 

We should ask ourselves: How truly informed can we be today if we depend on a report over a year old? Especially when the author Michael Hsueh told me on Friday:

 Granted there have been some new developments which would warrant a review

This from a Barclays Capital Commodities Research 2013 European Energy Matters report by Trevor Sikorski report is dated yesterday. Not public domain by the way, but this is the full section on the report referred to by Bloomberg today. Will Caroline and the Greenpeace gang ignore this one just as much as they ignored the DECC report on shale reserves? They will, of course. But they need to ask can they keep on doing so?:

Continue reading Barclay’s on UK Shale Gas Price Impact

DECC report on UK Shale Gas Resources

The subject of the size of the amounts of UK shale gas been open to much speculation and misunderstanding right from the start. Key opponents such as Damian Carrington of the Guardian have derided Cuadrilla’s estimates from the very start and they have been consistent in insisting that we don’t even have any gas, so why bother looking and full speed ahead, although whether that would be under wind, nuclear or coal isn’t specified. The main thing is we don’t have any gas anyway. Andrew Rawnsley famously told us the weekend previous: 

Then there is the huge hole at the heart of the frack-heads’ dream. No one even knows yet how much shale gas can be profitably extracted. Estimates of the exploitable reserves vary wildly.

The explanation is geology. Shales in Europe are generally thinner and deeper, and therefore much more expensive to tap, than those that have been successfully exploited in the United States. And Britain looks likely to be one of the less promising prospects in Europe because its shales are typically among the thinnest.

The Daily Telegraph yesterday asked the question how much gas do we actually have without getting even close to providing an answer.The discussion is complicated by basic misunderstandings of the reserve and resource figures.This definition is from the Society of Petroleum Engineers may help

Unlike the inventory of a manufacturing company, reserves are physically located in reservoirs deep underground and cannot be visually inspected or counted, but rather are estimates based on the evaluation of data that provides evidence of the amount of oil and gas present. There is no definitive answer until the end of a reservoir’s producing life. All reserve estimates involve some degree of uncertainty. The estimation of reserves volumes is generally performed by highly-skilled individuals who use their experience and professional judgment in the calculation of those volumes. 
Reserves represent that part of resources which are commercially recoverable and have been justified for development.
Meanwhile, this is the introduction to a presentation DECC made at Prospex in London last week. It hasn’t  yet been published on the DECC site, but is in the public domain and I’ve placed the full report in the NHA Library to your right.

Continue reading DECC report on UK Shale Gas Resources


A selection of No Hot Air Presentations. Please feel free to use any of the content but we would ask that you attribute the source to No Hot Air.

2Degrees Network Presentation from debate with Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist and Policy Advisor, Greenpeace.

{loadposition coal}

From the Major Energy User Council Meeting


{loadposition meuc}

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group Presentation

{loadposition windsor}

From the Building Center Presentation

{loadposition building}

Top 100 Global Thinker and Frack Head on UK Shale Gas

Here’s a guest post by one of the fathers of shale gas. Dr Terry Engelder of Pennsylvania State University, who asked me to print this letter he wrote to the BBC after his appearance on the BBC News Channel .

First some introduction to Terry for those self described experts who call us Frack Heads. I’m nowhere near this level, but I’m proud to have this guy in my corner as opposed to several of the UK’s Top 10 Time Wasters such as Mike Hill, Tim Probert and Lawrence Carter.

The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers

Foreign Policy presents a unique portrait of 2011’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.

Only in the past several years has the extent of the shake-up become fully apparent. Thanks to investments made by Mitchell’s industry heirs in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” U.S. shale gas production nearly quintupled between 2006 and 2010 to 4.8 trillion cubic feet — almost a quarter of U.S. natural gas production — and prices plummeted. Meanwhile, geologists have mapped eye-poppingly large shale gas reserves throughout Europe and the United States — most notably Terry Engelder and Gary Lash, who in 2008 estimated the reserves of the U.S. Northeast’s Marcellus Shale formation at a monstrous 500 trillion cubic feet, making it the world’s largest unconventional natural gas reserve.

Continue reading Top 100 Global Thinker and Frack Head on UK Shale Gas

Germany also says yes to shale gas

Here’s more great news on shale gas in Europe that  shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle surrounding the UK decision on fracking.  Germany, a country with the largest Green Party in Europe has been a bit of a mystery in European shale. We saw an absolutely massive resource estimate earlier this year which was notably ignored even within Germany itself.

Unconventional gas reserves inGermany amount to trillions of cubic metres (cbm) and can be safely exploited if the right rules are in place, federal authorities said on Monday with the release of the first findings of an ongoing long-term study.

The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) said between 0.7 trillion and 2.3 trillion cbm of the gas could be technically extracted.

This is calculated as a 10 percent extraction rate they believe is achievable from the 6.8 trillion-22.6 trillion cbm of shale gas they have located in the country.

Germany has a significant shale gas potential,” the Hanover-based authority said in a press statement.

These are truly mind boggling figures, although anyone familiar with Northern Germany potential won’t be too surprised. But this news, equivalent to a huge gas field in Europe’s largest economy was met with a collossal ho hum by those who said that we would never get it out with German Greens. How does this fit in that narrative? A narrative of course important to the UK since allegedly all our gas will get exported to Europe and we won’t reap the benefit according to well known energy economist Caroline Lucas. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government won votes that will permit fracking to continue in Germany, saying the technique may help the country’s energy supply security.

Continue reading Germany also says yes to shale gas

Fact Checking The Deutsche Bank says Shale Gas Won’t Work Myth

A key rhetorical tactic of shale antis is known as proof by repeated assertion. Say something often enough and it become the truth. One example I don’t yet have a response to since it’s so jaw-droppingly weird, is the  assertion that if we produce more gas in the UK it will inevitably lead to higher prices. In the meanwhile let’s look at the Deutsche Bank report says that shale gas won’t work in Europe argument used by the FOE, Caroline Lucas yet again on Daily Politics yesterday, Damian Carrington in the Guardian very often, The Independent last week and Greenpeace writing in the New Statesman yesterday.

This tactic is the argument from authority device. We all use it, but it works better when there is more than one source of authority. However to those unfamiliar with fracking, including those who hadn’t even heard about it until yesterday, using any authority at all strengthens the argument. In the DB case the argument shouldn’t apply. The DB report is over a year old and the opinion of one company for example. The argument is fallacious in that repeating the DB report alone as evidence suggests it represents a consensus among experts. Then of course, there is the matter of are the above experts misinterpreting the report?  We could argue that for years , but, unlike the press or FOE, we could simply ask the author of the report himself, a No Hot Air reader of long standing, Micheal Hseuh of Deutshe Bank, who told me back in March:

Continue reading Fact Checking The Deutsche Bank says Shale Gas Won’t Work Myth