What in the world is under the UK’s Weald Basin?

Gold-Mining-kit-geology-archaeology-excavation-game-Great-Gizmos-Museum-history-gifts-for-kids-cmcn452000 listinglargeSurely one of the more bizarre objections by UK shale opponents is that we shouldn’t even explore because the industry won’t find anything and is wasting their time and money doing so.

We saw this heartwarming concern for the profitability of fossil fuel investors way back in 2011 in the Bowland

Cuadrilla, the exploration company hoping to blast vast amounts of gas from the shale below Lancashire by fracking, say they have discovered a reserve of 200 trillion cubic feet. If correct, that sends Blackpool from the periphery of the UK tourist industry to the centre of the global gas market. This small patch of Lancashire would be the biggest single reserve in the world and equivalent to 20% of the whole of China’s shale gas resource, which is the biggest in the world.

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Natural Gas peeks into the future

Surprising validators aren’t only found when environmentalists support natural gas from shale as Stephen Tindale recently showed us. 0002Last week several speakers from the gas industry at Flame in Amsterdam surprised with very optimistic assessments of near future renewable technology and it’s impact on European gas markets.

I’ve always wanted to believe in renewables, but for too long we have seen breathless reporting of advances that aren’t or that are Inconsequential Nibbles. IN’s are all over the place: they sound exciting but actually deliver little actual power to where it’s needed. The Balcombe Solar Initiative is only one example: it’s meant to make people feel good, not to provide useful amounts of power. Too many sound like Cold Fusion II. How many times do we hear stories like this:

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Natural gas prices in Europe: Down, down, down

rock lobsterSince UK gas and electricity bills went up last year and created an affordability crisis the Labour opposition turned into a UK political issue, the news coming out of Flame 2014 would surprise most people: Gas prices are cratering. Throw in the continuing tension over Russia and Ukraine and it becomes even more counter-intuitive. Throw in how US prices have actually risen and it becomes just plain confusing. What gives?

While global gas prices are unlikely to merge around a single figure anytime soon, they are more strongly connected than ever. Trading links between the three main regions of North America, Europe and North East Asia reflect fundamentals of supply and demand of not only the commodity, but of shipping capacity.

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The climate case for natural gas

greenpeaceI’ve been saying this for sometime, but it’s important that both sides, industry and fracktivists alike, listen to surprising validators in the climate debate. It’s not surprising that this was ignored by the UK press and only surfaced in the US. What is very pleasantly surprising is the author of this guest post, repeated with Stephen Tindale’s permission and in full. Who’s Stephen Tindale? This may explain why this important contribution doesn’t rate a mention in the Guardian:

Stephen Tindale (writer and co-founder) is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, and a climate and energy consultant. He lives in London. His past roles have included:

  • Executive Director of Greenpeace UK and chair of the Greenpeace European Unit.
  • Adviser to UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher.
  • Lecturer in Environmental Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
  • Senior Research Fellow on environment and energy at the Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • Policy Adviser to Shadow Environment Secretary Chris Smith and secretary of the Labour Party Policy Commission on the Environment, which produced In Trust for Tomorrow. (This originally proposed the UK’s target of 20% carbon reduction target by 2010.)
  • Diplomat, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including work on Soviet foreign policy and a posting to Pakistan. While he was growing up, his parents lived in the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

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Too much pressure: An explanation for shale methane emissions?

toomuchpressureThe concern with methane emissions could be called a zombie fact, in that it refuses to die, being first reported here in 2011 and mentioned 54 times since. Like a zombie fact, it’s one of the first to be breathlessly brandished by the sort of shale opponents who only heard of it at all last summer.

But it is a legitimate scientific concern, and all the more so because it is widely portrayed as a problem by environmentalists, even if the subject is a classic case of Single Study Syndrome. Thanks to Andy Revkin of the New York Times Dot Earth blog for the link BTW:

The notion that the latest scientific information trumps all is a red flag.

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Planet wins from Russia to China gas deal

CleanEnergyChinaGasThe fabled Russia/China gas deal,where the huge stranded reserves of Eastern Siberia are drilled and transported thousands of kilometres to China has been held up for years only over the small matter of price. All indications are that it’s getting closer, with an agreement to be announced in a Putin visit to China this month.

There’ll be differing attempts to paint the deal as a victory for Putin, either by Obama’s domestic political opponents who miss the point that approving US LNG exports is a multi-year game, or by the Russians themselves as seen here at Petroleum Economist 

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The science and moral high ground of shale gas in the climate debate

moral-high-ground-sizedJudging from past experience,  the presence of Greenpeace’s Doug Parr and Friends of the Earth’s Tony Bosworth at Shale Gas World in Birmingham this week may not change much. Both are of the leave UK shale gas in the ground school, but at least they show up.

On past form, they rarely stay. They don’t seem curious.Their minds are made up, and most importantly, were years ago. They’ll ignore the reports of shale success, and the report of the reality behind the “controversy” and get back on the train after repeating their outdated mantra of efficiency and green providing the only way forward.

But something has changed recently. We certainly won’t hear it from either them or most of the mainstream media. Let’s recall that Greenpeace and FoE dominate the climate debate in the UK by simple force of numbers, and that’s not only their members. There are countless green “campaigners” who put out acres of press releases to promote their view. Their view is allegedly that the only way forward is a carbon free future, with shale’s place being as they put it, “not here, not anywhere, not ever”.

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Zombie Shale Fact: Over 600 chemicals in frack fluids.

VoodooDoughnutSecond in the Zombie Shale Facts © series, the facts that keep on coming no matter how often they are refuted is an old favourite that still rated a mention in “evidence” given to the House of Lords  recently. The report took evidence from a wide range of scientists from throughout the world, but also from FFBRA:

127:: The Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA) wrote that in the US, over 600 chemicals had been used in fracking fluid and some of these were “hazardous air and drinking water pollutants.”246 They were also that many of the chemicals used are “proprietary and ‘trade secret chemicals’, making assessment of their health impact difficult”

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The other risk of UK shale: the cost of doing nothing

indecisionThe UK House of Lords published their report on The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil on Thursday. 

Whatever their other issues, the Lords have both several centuries of history to live up to, and can be perfectly honest since they don’t have to worry about either elections or term limits. That by way of introducing their candid opinion

The shale gas revolution in the United States has illustrated the economic opportunity offered to the United Kingdom by its own shale gas resources—if they can be developed successfully. We strongly support the Government in their objective to exploit these resources but believe they need to do much more to encourage exploration and get development moving.

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Zombie Shale Fact Number One: Shale Gas prevents the development of renewables

zombieland-series-logoAlthough I get satisfaction hearing any number of people talk about shale gas myths (Ed Davey, David Cameron and Channel Four UK  being only three) as I have for over three years at both No Hot Air and ShaleGasInfo.eu , I wish I had copyrighted it.

Nothing stands still in shale, including the facts. Production is booming at the same time that accidents won’t happen, prices fall further,fears of a shale bubble recede and initial production figures now seem laughably conservative. Yet the same old fears repeat, and repeat and repeat. I call them Zombie Shale Facts ©. Like shale itself, we have to discuss the facts in the 2014 version:

ZSFs, possessed of a half life no less than that of uranium 235, have three main characteristics: 

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