Shale gas and filthy lucre

Sometime this month, the first ethane shipment from US shale is coming to the UK, ironically to Scotland to be used as feedstock at the Ineos Grangemouth facility.

It raises the same questions for the no shale anywhere school that have already arisen over imports of US shale oil and US LNG from shale already arrived in Spain and Portugal .US LNG will be headed to the UK and Belgium soon enough. It will be hard to propose no shale anywhere when it’s already lurking in the water heater.

Ethane is just part of the methane flowing out of Pennsylvania’s gas field and is the precursor for ethylene to polypropylene production, and from that modest substance, most of modern life. It will even be used for the £5 notes that came into circulation last week as noted here back in 2013 when I noted that one can actually make money of out of shale gas. Literally:

The company that makes the polypropylene film for the notes is Innovia Films based in Wigtown in Cumbria. They use £7 or 8 million of gas as fuel a year and their raw material for the polypropylene comes from INEOS. INEOS will soon be importing Pennsylvanian shale gas ethane as the feedstock that eventually will become fivers in our pockets.

It’s doubly ironic as the Scottish Government has the most confused thinking going on shale gas, as Jim Ratcliffe said last week:

The owner of Grangemouth refinery has accused the Scottish Government of “hypocrisy” by impeding fracking when shale gas imports are protecting 10,000 jobs in and around the economically vital plant.

In an interview with the Scottish Daily Mail, Mr Ratcliffe said Grangemouth “would be closed today” without shale gas imports.

He said: “Whether the Scottish politicians like it or not, the shale gas which has come from the US rather than the UK has saved 10,000 jobs in the Falkirk area.

“And that’s 5% of the Scottish GDP. So whether they like it or not they have embraced shale gas and 10,000 people’s livelihood depends on shale gas from the USA.”

He added: “There is sort of an element of hypocrisy there.”

Sort of? Jim Ratcliffe, unlike many in his company, isn’t scared of being brutally honest.  He’s in a better position than many in shale since his company is privately held and Ineos is in a curious position.  No one can boycott the Ineos brand because there isn’t one yet it’s  impossible to boycott the products derived from ethane either. That includes plastic, paint, dyes, pharmaceuticals and fivers.  Anti-frackers may need to go increasingly cashless. Although of course there is that pesky plastic in the payment card.

Whatever you do, don’t touch any receipts.

  • Reduce handling as much as possible.

    • Don’t crumpling receipts it increases the amount of skin exposure and causes friction on the receipt that causes the chemicals to be activated (sloughed off the receipt)
    • Hold with only two fingers
    • Don’t grip firmly for the same reasons crumpling increases exposure, the more pressure the more activation of the chemicals.
    • Watch wipe action or fingers and palms on paper.  Mainly the least amount of exposure to the surface area of the receipt the less opportunity for you to rub off the chemicals and cause absorption
  • Wear protective food grade silicone fingertips on index finger and thumb when tearing receipts, changing receipt rolls, and cleaning machines.

  • Fold one-sided printed paper in on itself.  One-sided thermal paper (paper that can only be printed on one side), usually has more chemical on the printed side.

  • Avoid hand to mouth contact when handling receipts.

  • Avoid handling receipts after using alcohol-based cleaners or when hands are wet, or when greasy from food or lotion. Wet hands lead to more absorption.

  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly; on work breaks (employees) after changing receipt rolls or cleaning machines, prior to and after eating or preparing food, when returning from the store.

  • Protect high risk exposure – pregnant and nursing women, infants, toddlers, small children, and women of child-bearing age.  Never allow babies or toddlers to handle receipts or put them in their mouths.

  • Opt for electronic receipts whenever possible.

  • Do not place thermal paper receipts/orders directly on food during its preparation or when transporting food.

  • Keep drink/meal receipts dry. Do not adhere them to the sides of moist glassware.

2 thoughts on “Shale gas and filthy lucre”

  1. All very depressing, and to my mind, a defeatist and short-sighted apology for the destruction of the planet.
    We do not actually NEED any gas and oil at all. We just want it because it is ridiculously cheap at the point of sale.
    But that apparent cheapness – much like the promise of unlimited free nuclear power – hides a hidden, toxic legacy of environmental destruction and health risks that we will hand on to our grandchildren.
    It is time to make all our homes and industries carbon-neutral, and the new, green technologies coming on stream now make that not merely desirable, but inevitable.
    You article reminds me of the last gasp attempts by Arthur Scargill to preserve the coal mining industry – it didn’t wash then, and it doesnt wash now.
    Only a fool – or a madman – would invest in gas, when there are exponential advances being made in battery storage, renewable energy, and climate science.

    1. And how do you heat your home Robert? I think myself perfectly sane to say that the technology you propose will certainly not happen overnight. So in the meantime, the true madness is to import gas from Peru, Russia etc. But the North Sea is not much better either. Everything has a cost. We’ve seen the stupidity of binary yes/no questions in this country last June.
      The reality is we need everything and gas has no problem with that. It’s not a battle.

      I refuse to be a prisoner of both outdated concepts of the past or off a future paradise that may or may not show up. I’m proud to live in the here and now. My real world idea is to provide lowest carbon natural gas in the meantime. I also think revenue from it to support efficiency and R+D in tech like battery and renewables is better for the green economy than to keep shovelling billions towards Qatar, Norway, Russia or very soon the US for LNG because we’re too sniffy to have a gas well in our English Arcadia.

      Another key climate issue is CO2 forcing: The more CO2 we emit today, the greater the problem to solve in future years. So opposing gas shoot yourself in the foot: it hurts the climate, not helps it. UK shale require very little investment and each well would be paid off in months, not decades.The pipeline grid is already here, so very little expense getting it to the nearest pipe. So if batteries, hydrogen, etc do take off, I’m perfectly happy to stop producing a product if people stop buying it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *