One way for No Hot Air and our readers to feel old is recalling how I was described as a shale gas missionary in the pages of Petroleum Economist way back when it actually had pages in September 2010.
NICK GREALY has been causing a stir. A former consultant who has spent two decades in the energy sector, he’s on a one-man mission to persuade the world of the virtues of shale gas. He does it through a blog called No Hot Air.
It’s a platform for him, his views and his trumpeting of the unconventional gas revolution that has swept the US, and believes Grealy, will do the same elsewhere – if only people, especially in the UK Government, would wake up to reality.
Hmm. That worked out well. Despite having had the email address of firstname.lastname@example.org since 2007. Nevertheless, I’m still here and after being described as both missionary and an evangelist all these years, it now seems No Hot Air has been performing if not miracles, at least God’s Work all along. This week from the Church of England as reported by The Times:
The Church of England has concluded that fracking can be morally acceptable in a move that shale gas explorers hope could pave the way for drilling to take place on church land.
After years of internal debate on the issue, the church has published an extensive briefing paper giving cautious support for fracking subject to conditions, including strict regulation, environmental monitoring and compensation for those affected.
Now I don’t think religion should be in the shale debate, but after years of only getting noticed, at least in the UK, by those who worship at the Church of the Poison Mind , this is indeed a refreshing change.
It’s a broad church too of course, but the arrogance of Tony Bosworth here is truly wondrous to behold:
Tony Bosworth, campaigner at environmental group Friends of the Earth, said: “The Church of England are mistaken. Opening up a new fossil fuel industry will not help us move to a low carbon economy and regulation cannot make fracking safe. The idea that fracking could be a transition fuel is now widely discredited.
That all encompassing statement is somewhat open to debate. When can we have one by the way Tony? The CoE report was more than anything a reiteration of the Committee on Climate Change report from last July, something else which got lost in the news flow last summer. That this one didn’t, not only in The Times but more encouragingly, or worryingly for FoE, in The Guardian , is only part of a rapidly evolving positive narrative momentum for UK shale. Now all we need to do is to find some gas and we’re off to the races. Or, as could always be the case (10% odds I’d say) the UK is Poland 2 for shale and we can all go home, or in my case move to China or Argentina, or even Iran, where governments don’t take seven years to act in their best interests.
By the way, the fact I was proved right years ahead of anyone else should not be confused with material success. Call it sour grapes, or chip on my shoulder or simply a refusal to ever eat humble pie, but I can’t resist pointing out , even though I sometimes resent needing to, that such prescience didn’t translate into more earthly rewards.
No Hot Air is Exhibit A demonstrating how experts prefer to be wrong in a group. Certainly, there is no market for anyone to offer advice or counsel that doesn’t agree with the same opinion that most purchasers of advice have already decided for themselves. Here for example, also from 2010:
On 10 February 2010 at the Royal Society, six UK companies – Arup, Foster + Partners, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solarcentury, Stagecoach Group and Virgin – joined together to launch the second report of the UK Industry Task-Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).
The report, titled “The Oil Crunch – a wake-up call for the UK economy”, finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilise economic, political and social activity within five years.
The Task-Force warns that the UK must not be caught out by the oil crunch in the same way it was with the credit crunch and states that policies to address Peak Oil must be a priority for the new government formed after the 2010 election.
A cautionary tale for the next time you’re asked to follow the advice of experts based on qualifications or past performance. Everyone has a crystal ball, but few came into the tent and crossed NHA’s palm with silver because our particular glass orb was actually a rear view mirror: most everything that had happened in energy in the pre 2010 era was wrong. That was too embarrassing or disruptive for government through industry and many others – either the great and the good or the poor and bedraggled alongside Friends of the Earth.
Still, better late than never. I naively thought of revenge as a dish best served cold was simply an old Klingon proverb but:
Historians are not sure where the saying originated, but it means that revenge is best served not fresh after the insult occurred, but after enough time has passed so that the target won’t see it coming.
Sometimes it seems the dish has actually congealed, but one thing I’ve learnt is that no one should think that I’m going to be right in the future either. The over-arching lesson of the shale revolution is that stuff happens. Some will be good, some will be bad, but it happens. The disruption of the shale revolution is permanent and the genie as I’ve been saying for years, won’t go back in the bottle. However, there could be other disruptions out there too.
What could they be? Who knows. It may be good, it may be bad. Whatever it is, it will be different. Which to No Hot Air, has always been part of the fun.