X doesn’t Mark The Spot. The Search for a Better UK Shale Treasure Map

Guest post time again,  from James Elston of Palladian Energy:

The UK shale debate has been using the wrong map.  I will highlight a better treasure map below.

As a concerned observer and regular participant in the great shale gas debate I am interested in fostering sensible debate on all the issues.  I should declare an Interest, I was founding CEO of the one shale gas explorer to be sold to date in Europe (Realm Energy C$140m sold to San Leon Energy) , I intend to explore in the UK through future vehicles and have looked at UK shale geology in depth.  I wrote a guest post on Poland last Autumn and would hope to update that soon.  I am of course a strong supporter of shale exploration as an environmentally benign and potentially bountiful opportunity for the UK for the reasons frequently expertly articulated by Nick Grealy who runs NoHotAir.

In a time when it is possible to be angry amount so many things it is important not to be pointlessly angry.  There would appear to be concerned residents of many parts of the UK forming groups to oppose shale gas exploration in places where there will simply never be any shale exploration.  If you live in Kent or the Bath/Somerset area I am particularly thinking of you.

Continue reading X doesn’t Mark The Spot. The Search for a Better UK Shale Treasure Map

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Is Europe too crowded for shale gas?

Even during a very postive editorial on shale gas in the FT today, a very common misperception: 

Such incentives were not necessary to get the shale bonanza going in the US. Not only are test wells located in far less densely populated areas than in the UK, but landowners are often happy to invite prospectors on to their properties.

This is a picture from Dart Energy’s recent drillng in Scotland. It’s a Coal Bed Methane site so the rig itself is a bit smaller than those that will be used for shale gas, but the average size of the well pad itself is not too far off what may be blotting your local landscape at up to one every 10 square miles or so

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UK Green mistakes on public acceptance

Reports surrounding the Energy and Climate Change Committee report on the Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets proved what the report itself noted:

One key to community acceptance will be a robust factual response by government to scare stories. 

Overall the report was very positive and struck (almost) the right tone between caution and a refreshing and balanced perception that shale gas would more likely to be positive. Comparatively speaking by British standards, this understated approval is like swinging from chandeliers in enthusiasm most other places. I’ve highlighted this in case you, like the Guardian and the BBC missed it: 

8. Conclusion

The length of the moratorium has conveyed the impression that the case for and against proceeding with shale gas exploration is finely balanced when this is simply not the case. Care is required to ensure that the shale gas industry in the UK develops more quickly in the future while doing everything possible to allay unwarranted concerns of local communities. But the lack of progress over the past two years is disappointing. The Government has signalled that it sees a role for conventional and unconventional gas in the UK’s future energy mix, but it has been slow to establish the framework within which the shale gas industry will operate.

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Europe Shale Gas: A Tale of Two Cities

For the average voter, seeing public policy formulated in the back rooms of Parliaments produces a reaction similar to going into a sausage factory – I’d really rather not have known the details.

The contrast between two events, the  Carbon Connect launch of their fossil fuels study Monday in Westminster and an exhibition and debates by Gas Naturally in the European Parliament in Brussels couldn’t have been clearer. What would have surprised people how is how counterfactual closely held narratives about politics actually are. 

The UK right wing narrative is of a Europe that constrains growth in general and especially in energy, needs to get out of the way with delay, waffle and environmental constraints. But the reality in shale is the opposite.

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Shale Gas and Renewables: The Best of all possible worlds

As usual, the real news belongs to a couple of things you may have missed this week.

One, at first completely unrelated to energy, but of major consequence to everything else was the  discovery that the Reinhart/Rogoff  economic study that underpinned austerity economics world-wise had a key error in it.You couldn’t make this up. Reinhart and Rogoff certainly didn’t but they did make two key errors in the 2010 economic study that was cited world-wide as the reason why governments should cut back spending during the recession instead of spending their way out. In short, it was all down to an Excel error and leaving some key information out. This was easy to miss due to the newsflow from Boston and Texas, but seek this amazing story out or go directly to Paul Krugman in the NY Times or just one of several places in the FT. Think of this as paradigm shift equal to that of shale energy, only bigger and quicker.

The second story was within an IEA report last week Tracking Clean Energy Progress Reduction. Or, as we see from the Guardian, the complete lack of it:

Continue reading Shale Gas and Renewables: The Best of all possible worlds

Methane Emissions and Water Use of Shale Gas. Again

Can we please put the methane emissions issue to bed?  And while we’re there, can we please smother entirely any mad assertion that UK shale gas is going to make unreasonable demands on water resources? 

Do any UK energy experts ever look at anything outside of the UK?  Carbon Connect’s report out recently, has the same desperate attempt to create controversy where none  exists out of the methane emissions of shale gas. Paul Stephens of Chatham House and Alistair Buchanan have both mentioned it this year. I’ve mentioned the reality of the debate numerous times. I guess I’ll have to keep on doing it again.

Carbon Connect’s section on shale gas is literally tacked on the end and is out of date, mis-informed or just plain wrong for almost all of it. I don’t have the time to go through this all so let’s go straight to emissions 

Unconventional extraction is not without controversy. Of most concern are the as yet un-quantified risks from fugitive methane emissions released during drilling, and potential for the water and chemicals used – 75 per cent of which remain in the ground after fracking – to contaminate groundwater supplies. Fugitive emissions will increase the lifecycle carbon emissions of shale gas, and more detailed surveys are currently under way in the US.  

Continue reading Methane Emissions and Water Use of Shale Gas. Again

Why shale gas will, and must, work in Europe

In the spirit of environmental sustainability,  forgive me for recycling this comment I made in response to an FT story that started out:

The jury is still out on whether the US shale gas revolution can be replicated in Europe.

Having had the best part of five years experience observing the shale energy revolution, and being cursed with a long memory, I can provide some context in dismissing the “conventional” thinking of why unconventional energy isn’t for the likes of us inexpert Europeans.

Over the years, various analysts at WoodMac have been wrong about shale gas first in the US, latterly in China and consistently in Europe.  I’ve seen others such as Ben Dell of Bernstein move on from being the bad news bears of shale energy to take up new positions promoting shale oil exploration in Europe.  One person’s opinion I’d love to hear more of would be that of the FT’s John Dizard, who has been consistently, and spectacularly, wrong since 2009.  In his Olympian “expert” voice, he first told us how shale gas, thanks to outdated depletion analysis was either doomed to failure in the US or would need gas prices over $6 as he confidently predicted in 09,10,11 and even 12. In 2013, he doesn’t answer e-mails.

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Return of the not so Satanic Mills?

The jobs issue around shale has been too narrowly focused on the actual process in the local area itself, while the true job creation  potential could be throughout industry all over the country – and Europe.  But in one yet another unintended consequence of shale gas, could a future of shale gas in Lancashire portend a return to the glory days of the North West’s industrial past?

That’s not at all unlikely. Until recently the UK North West and the Rust Belt of Pennsylvania and Ohio shared a dying industrial heritage built on coal. Ohio and Pittsburgh had a historical steel industry, Lancashire had it’s cotton industry. On top of the Marcellus and Utica Shales, US Steel Inc is coming back from the dead and European steel makers like Vallourec or even Russia’s Severstal are making investments in Ohio as Vallourec closes plants in France.  

Two key factors leading to the development of the Lancashire cotton industry were coal and rain, the damp climate being suited to cotton spinning. The industry died a lingering death from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, but this being England, what happened almost a century ago sticks in the national mind as if it happened last week.  

Continue reading Return of the not so Satanic Mills?