The Negative Feedback Loop of UK Shale Gas

A key negative feedback loop of the UK Shale industry is the media’s insistence, against any data based evidence, that shale is somehow “controversial”.  This  is becoming a particular UK issue. US media outside of Mother Jones or Rolling Stone ranges from accepting to enthusiastic.  Over the Channel, where le fracking is banned, there have been a wide range of informed articles even in L’Humanite and Liberation, the most left wing papers on the planet now Pravda is a shadow of it’s former self.  But the UK media decided two years ago that fracking is bad and not wanting to let facts get in the way,  has ceded most discussion to environmentalists.

The loop is knotted further by the media steadfastly ignoring anything remotely positive on shale, including positive public opinion surveys taken out in the past . The work of Nottingham University for example has been universally ignored by media outlets who inevitably give shale the “controversial” modifier, or worse,  they are happy to promote Greenpeace polls that have little if any neutral academic credibility.

In the past, opinion surveys by Nottingham University and YouGov have shown any controversy to be more in the eye of the presenter than in the eye of any beholding audience. Over time, the key takeaways have been that among those who have even heard of fracking, the public has been approving by up to two to one margins. It appears the public at least, can think outside the media loop.

If you had heard of shale gas in Europe at all until recently, it would have been through negative campaigns by environmental groups and “green” media who informed and enable each other within the organic echo chamber. Very little informed opinion makes it to the business or news pages, who while sometimes more sympathetic, still prefer to put the debate into simple form of a paragraph each, or at most five minute talking head debates that enlighten no one.

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US shale gas to the UK rescue as Britain buries their own

In this chilly spring of our discontent, during which George Osborne insists we have no alternative but years of austerity,  warming news from David Cameron and Ed Davey.  Shale Gas will keep Britain energy secure:

Centrica plc has entered into an agreement with Cheniere Energy Partners, L.P, to purchase 91,250,000 mmbtu (89 billion cubic feet) of annual liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes for export from the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Louisiana in the United States. This amounts to approximately 1.75 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa), and is the equivalent of the annual gas demand of around 1.8 million UK homes. The contract is for an initial 20 year period, with the option for a 10 year extension, and the target date for first commercial delivery is September 2018

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, said “I warmly welcome this commercial agreement between Centrica and Cheniere.  Future gas supplies from the US will help diversify our energy mix and provide British consumers with a new long-term, secure and affordable source of fuel.”

UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, said “Security of UK energy supply lies in diversity so I am pleased that Centrica has announced today that it has secured a long-term North American liquefied natural gas export contract with Cheniere Energy Partners.  The UK already receives gas from a range of countries and we can now add the US to Norway, the Netherlands and Qatar as sources of supply.”    

Let no one be confused: the source of the gas is shale gas, which by 2018 could be almost half US production of natural gas. No one can pick the molecules out and the exports to the UK will displace other US shale gas.

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The Hidden Shale Pollution Lawsuit Myth

Another cross post from Energy in Depth Marcellus, with some quick background first 

The lack of information on shale gas in the UK even among the sympathetic such as Andrew Neil who referred to many chemicals for example during the five minute (!) sound bite swap (it was certainly not an informed debate) on BBC Sunday Politics today at 32 minutes here is founded on any number of myths. The myths are enabled by a media  that seems to have no respect for any intelligence on the part of their audience.  The British people are not as scientifically illiterate as those who insist on debate by sound bite alone insist. One example is the common myth among antis that there have been proven cases on contamination in the US which were hushed up because the judgement is sealed. As usual, the myth becomes reality by being repeated often enough, and we can expect, again as usual, that reality won’t be allowed to intrude, because it can’t be explained in a five minute debate. 

Energy in Depth again live up to their name and explain thoroughly those little fact thingies that UK journalists are simply too busy to bother with. For those with open minds, read on. Tom Shepstone, who you can see here at BBC Spotlight NI last week in an actually informed programme deserves a Pulitzer prize compared to the majority of UK media. I love the closing line and please, do get that far. This is great writing.  And it’s not fiction.

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Something is lurking beneath those waves

I publish other people’s posts here from time to time, with the main requirement being it cannot be boring. This post from Rudolf Huber ticks that box. I first met Rudolf about three years ago at a Platts Shale Gas conference and do not pass up a chance to see him live. People have called me an evangelist for shale and Rudolf describes himself as the Pit Bull of LNG. If you think I’m getting a little sedate in my old age, Rudolf is the man for you. Next to me, the most entertaining “energy expert” going. We are both the worst type of pain in the ass. We’re always right. Take it away Rudolf:

Something is lurking beneath those waves

Methane Hydrates are known to the world as burning ice. It is an oddity to the energy industry and easily shrugged off but they are more imminent than many executives like to think. The LNG projects under construction today will bear its scars.

I remember early 2008. The world was still a party. Natural gas business was the big darling on the block, shale was still an oddity, that the gas world did not really take serious and at EconGas we were all still self-congratulating for the great GATE deal. But there was also the beginning of an eerie feeling, a feeling that things would not be as nice and cozy as it seemed.

I was about be entrusted with LNG long-term supply and we had a discussion during which I warned of shale (and was laughed at) and if that was not enough I mentioned two words which did not even produce laughs but only incomprehension. Methane Hydrates.

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Clearing the air on UK shale gas

The Chancellor certainly made the right noises yesterday:

Mr Osborne said “shale gas is part of the future and we will make it happen”, as he unveiled measures to support the new industry, including gas field allowances to promote early investment in the sector.

Could we also see some right noises from those who have been among the foremost opponents and deniers of fracking in the past?  The reaction from the Guardian’s Environment Editor Damian Carrington is especially significant:

George Osborne has brushed aside concerns over shale gas by committing to an exploration drive in the UK with generous tax breaks for fracking companies and promises to hand financial incentives to local communities.

“I want Britain to tap into new sources of low-cost energy like shale gas,” said the chancellor. “Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.”

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More buried good news on UK shale gas

A common theme here has been to point out positive stories about shale gas that get missed by a media as eager to promote the negatives about shale gas as they are to bury or simply ignore anything remotely positive. Much of the time that’s simply a matter of following stories up. We hear the initial anecdotes of shale gas, but very rarely see the results of the investigations that look at the actual data behind the allegations.Millions of people know about Dimock Pennsylvania through Gasland for example, but how many know ever got to hear about the result of multiple investigations into the allegations.

A  surprising recent example of buried good news is from  Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. In the past, any statements by him downgrading expectations of the impact of shale gas on the UK and prices in particular have been seized upon the by usual Guardian, Independent, Business Green shale fractivists brigade. But when my neighbouring MP gave this speech at the launch of the OUOG,  it was completely ignored. That’s a shame, because it was a measured and completely balanced view which deserves a wide audience. More highlights than normal,  because this is great stuff, and the best is right from the start:

I am the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Not either/or.

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Interesting thought experiments on UK shale gas

For Andy Revkin of the New York Times to describe a just published Stanford study entitled “ Examining the feasibility of converting New York State’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one using wind, water, and sunlight” as an “interesting thought experiment” either disproves the  British idea that Americans can’t do irony or that Andy Revkin missed his calling as diplomat.

The report is meant to a serious attempt to produce a road map towards a zero carbon world. To most anyone else, the report is quite frankly, ridiculous. This doesn’t mean I’m a “frack-head”, it means the  head on my shoulders says their proposals have passed beyond magical thinking to the simply bizarre.  This report proves that those who believe most strongly in catastrophic problems are equally open to miracles.  The problem as the authors see it:

The only potential method of saving the Arctic sea ice is to eliminate emissions of short-lived global warming agents, including methane (from natural gas leakage and anaerobic respiration) and particulate black carbon (from natural gas flaring and diesel, jet fuel, kerosene burning, and biofuel burning).

This is what a German friend of mine, rather unkindly perhaps, refers to as “The Russian Cure”: You solve underlying medical problems by shooting the patient.  In this case, you solve the problem of modern life by returning to the Middle Ages. 

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Poland perks up

Two stories today from companies working in Poland. First up San Leon Energy,  the largest independent gas E+P company in Europe,  admittedly a (too) small field.

San Leon Energy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Halliburton Company Germany GmBH Sp. Z.o.o. (“Halliburton”) to develop a strategic relationship to jointly explore and develop the Carboniferous unconventional gas potential in San Leon’s Wschowa, Gora, and Rawicz Concessions (”the Concessions”) in Poland

Under the MOU, it is anticipated that Halliburton will perform and fund a Diagnostic Fracture Injection Test (“DFIT”) for the Siciny-2 well in Q2 2013. Upon completion of the DFIT, Halliburton will have the option to perform and fund a minimum two-stage vertical hydraulic fracture in the Siciny-2 well with San Leon paying 50% of the wholesale proppant (fracturing fluid) cost to Halliburton. This procedure is also planned for Q2 2013. San Leon will fund other third party costs on the well-site, such as security and waste disposal, in connection with the DFIT and fracture.

This is an interesting deal. It’s not unknown elsewhere, but it’s a first in Europe and could reflect a $30 to $40 million exposure by Halliburton. It’s a huge vote of confidence in Poland by one of the world’s foremost shale experts and oil field service companies. Halliburton in some ways acting like a bank or any any other investor, but mostly not.

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More on UK Shale Gas

Last month I wrote an irate letter to Rigzone about a report they did on UK fracking, that was mostly dependent on Mike Hill,  the UK’s Walter Mitty of shale gas regulation.

That enabled me to put them in touch with Cuadrilla Resources and a report today on an interview they did with Mark Miller has some great technical detail well worth reading but in a format that the mainstream media could understand, even if, on past performance, they’ll completely ignore it.

First up, reserves

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Inmates, asylum and UK shale gas

Who are the winners and losers in the ongoing national embarrassment over Cuadrilla’s efforts to provide the government with billions of pounds in tax revenue?

Certainly not Cuadrilla. This gas has been under Lancashire for millennia, another bureaucratic bump for another year’s delay isn’t a company breaker.

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., the driller leading efforts to develop U.K. shale fields, delayed testing at a site in northwest England until 2014 to undertake an environmental assessment.

From now on, Cuadrilla will complete a full environmental impact assessment at every site where it wants to drill, the Lichfield, England-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. The driller said in January it planned to fracture and test a well at Anna’s Road near Blackpool this year

The two points to consider are that Cuadrilla have pots of money and the UK isn’t the only place to spend it in. It was very significant that John Browne gave one of his first interviews to one of the media’s most consistent opponents of shale:

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