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Fracking: An Essential Ingredient In The UK Energy Mix – Part II

Editor’s Note ~ This is the second part of a two-part series on Fracking. You can read the first part on UkipDaily here.

What are the Fracking opportunities in the UK?

The Royal Academy of Engineering carried out a study on the amount of shale gas available in the UK, in particular, their report concluded:

‘Fracking can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation. Ensuring well integrity must remain the highest priority to prevent contamination. The probability of well failure is low for a single well if it is designed, constructed and abandoned according to best practice.’

Seismicity induced by fracking is likely to be of even smaller magnitude than coal mining-related seismicity.

Shale gas extraction in the UK is presently at a very small scale, involving only exploratory activities. Uncertainties can be addressed through robust monitoring systems and research activities identified in the report. There is greater uncertainty about the scale of production activities should a future shale gas industry develop nationwide. Attention must be paid to the way in which risks scale up. Risks should be assessed across the entire lifecycle of shale gas extraction, including risks associated with disposal of wastes and abandonment of wells and seismicity.

Decision making would benefit from further research into the climate risks associated with both the extraction and use of shale gas and into the public acceptability of all these risks in the context of the UK’s energy, climate, and economic policies.

The Geological Society produced a map of the main shale deposits in the UK. It shows that they frequently occur in low-density population areas.

Background information

The technology and engineering for the fracking process started in 1821 in the USA, when the first gas was extracted and used in New York. Since then technology and safety has advanced in great strides, with increased jobs in the US measured in hundreds of thousands where 35,000 wells were drilled in 2006 alone to increase the output of this gas which has risen 19 fold between 2000 and 2010 from 0.25 trillion cubic feet per year to 4.55 trillion cubic feet per year (1 trillion cubic feet of gas will heat 15 million homes for 1 year or power 12 million natural gas-fired vehicles per year).

This gigantic increase in production has led to a drop in US gas prices of 50%, and the cancellation by many energy companies of planned new wind farms. Natural gas now accounts for 22 % of all energy used in the US. Further expansion of shale gas extraction is in the process and is estimated by the US Energy Information Administration to reach 45% of all gas in 2035.

After drilling and pumping have been completed, photographs of gas wells show that their visual environmental impact is similar to that of a few very small farm buildings. Compare: German households pay nearly 36 U.S. cents a kilowatt-hour of electricity, versus an average of 13 cents in America.No doubt this is adding to the problems of Angela Merkel and her inability to form a coalition government and Germany’s problems with its Climate Change policies.

With is huge industrial base the USA is now a net exporter of energy thanks to Fracking.

Let us all hope, as I do, that British politicians and the few remaining British energy companies will not find some way of giving away this natural gift to our foreign competitors. We too can then reduce energy prices, create jobs, increase competition, reduce our reliance on foreign imports, and make us less dependent on fragile and unstable oil exporting countries; in the same way the USA is doing.

And so to the bottom line

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the cost of Environmental Levies and the RHI scheme, (all a consequence of the Climate Change Act), will have risen to £13.5bn by 2021/22.

All of this cost is borne by energy consumers, except for the RHI, which is taxpayer funded.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (the RHI is a payment system to encourage the use of Renewable Energy Sources in England, Scotland and Wales) What is likely to happen to these costs in the years after 2021/22? Dieter Helm in his recent report reckons the cumulative cost will be well over £100 billion by 2030, but this appears to be way under the mark, given the costs already identified up to 2021.

It appears there has been an ongoing conspiracy between the Government and the Committee on Climate Change to conceal the true cost of their policies. In addition it has been claimed by specialists in the field that by 2030, the annual cost of the Environmental Levies and RHI will amount to £21bn. The cumulative cost between now and 2030 will be £216bn, an average of over £15bn a year.

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1 Comment on Fracking: An Essential Ingredient In The UK Energy Mix – Part II

  1. Gordon, some exciting news. I see that the first UK commercial fracking well is being drilled on a farm near Little Plumpton which is near Blackpool (FT report 27/07/2017). The pilot well will be 3,500 m deep with horizontal wells at 2000 m and 3.500 m.

    Having lived and worked in Johannesburg, SA for 20 years where tremors from the gold mines below were quite common all I can say is we soon got used to them and joked that it was the sound of money being made. Since these mainly emanated from old workings that were relatively shallow and very extensive I can’t imagine that tremors from fracking would be anywhere near as severe and certainly nothing to worry about.

    Given the level of scaremongering about global warming over many years it is to be expected that many are fearful of ‘carbon pollution’. To them I would say this:

    Firstly, there is strong paleontological evidence that in the past the Earth has had much higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere than we have now, in some cases even in the midst of full glaciation.

    Secondly, the climate in the past has at times been considerably warmer than at present. There is no evidence of any ‘tipping points’ having been reached.

    Thirdly, to those that say that all the carbon dioxide being released must be ‘doing something’, yes it does!
    Seeing is believing

    Finally, even if carbon was a concern, much of electricity generated from burning gas is derived from the hydrogen constituted in it. Certainly, it produces less carbon than burning wood-chips imported from America in Drax does (we have the LibDems to thank for that one!) and also less than Drax did when burning coal.

    To my mind all the cockamamie green schemes to ‘save the planet’ do only one thing. They make our energy very expensive.

    This shrinks our economy while allowing ‘developing’ countries like China to grow theirs. Strange how they’re given a free pass on ‘carbon pollution’.


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