/ To frack or not to frack? That is the question

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Trangia - on 16 Aug 2013
Can any one explain the pros and cons with fracking?

There is a lot of emotion surrounding the issue, but what are true facts?
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:
Good points
- Increases gas and oil recovery from existing wells
- Economical to produce small hydrocarbon reserves
- Ultimately increases the amount of hydrocarbons accessable
- Could help the UK not be a net importer of Hydrocarbons and the energy security that that brings.
- brings down the price of oil and gass
- It's been done off shore for years so the technology is well developed

Bad bits
- You are breaking rock under ground so there is the potential for (admittedly under normal operation fairly modest) eathquakes.
- The chemicals used in fracking are fairly toxic. Each companies mix it propitiatory so it is difficult for any independent research on their effects.
- There is the possibility for ground water to become contaminated with hydrocarbons.
- In theory it is possible to frack into natural fractures and create large earthquakes

In summary the main benefits are cheaper and more secure fuel. The disadvantages all revolve around lack of understanding of the process and possible operating outside of the planned parameters.


In summary
Sir Chasm - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: The main con is that people don't want it in their back yard, just like they don't want oil wells, coal mines, nuclear power stations, incinerator plants and wind turbines. Those same people still want to flick a switch and have the light come on though.
Trangia - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:

Thanks for that.

In the light of your last sentence it would appear that we are jumping the gun, and further fracking should be suspended until such time that we understand the process.

I appreciate that we are running out of time so far as hydrocarbons are concerned, but to go on blind could be extremely risky.
jkarran - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:

You could argue the following also belong in 'Bad points':

> - Increases gas and oil recovery from existing wells
> - Economical to produce small hydrocarbon reserves
> - Ultimately increases the amount of hydrocarbons accessable

jk
MonkeyPuzzle - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:

I really can't see it making gas cheaper in any meaningful way. Unless you can persuade the companies involved to offer the UK a discount to the going market rate, of course, and good luck with that.
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:
I'm probably biased being a researcher in a geology department but as always we need more research. The technique isn't inherently unsafe but like most things when wrongly applied it can lead to unforeseen and unfortunate consequences.
Personally I think we should let the Yanks frack the hell out of everything for the next 10-20 years. While oil prices rise. Learn from all their mistakes then make a killing.
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle: Ok cheaper is probably wrong but not more expensive might be right. It certainly has advantages in terms of energy security
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran: Very true but in the short terms if you want the lights to stay on and to drive it might offer a more secure option than importing.
Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

> it would appear that we are jumping the gun, and further fracking should be suspended until
> such time that we understand the process.

Except that:

-- we're only going to understand the process be pursing it (and possibly making a few mistakes along the way). If that doesn't sound like a good idea then remember that:

-- any alternative way of producing as much energy is likely to have just as many risks, drawbacks and downsides.

-- the Americans now have a track record on fracking, and while not fully problem free no great disasters have ensued, so it's not true that we would be "going on blind".

-- the only real alternatives to fracking or equally problematic schemes are either (1) persuading the world not to use nearly as much energy as we currently do -- fat chance; or (2) developing nuclear fusion or something radically new like that.
The Lemming - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Trangia) The main con is that people don't want it in their back yard,

I'd prefer to have safe drinking water.

But then there isn't anything worth saving up north, so why not poison the water supply. Sure would cut down on an awful lot of national spending when everybody has been poisoned.
Sir Chasm - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to The Lemming: The EPA in the US haven't found any contamination of ground water attributable to fracking. But if you want to run around squealing "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" you carry on.
andrew549 on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm: I've not seen any reports of fracking fluid contamination although there are some reports showing increased amount of methane in ground water.
andic - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to Sir Chasm)
> [...]
>
> I'd prefer to have safe drinking water.

Or indeed any drinking water, AIUI each rig requires 4M+ gallons of water per annum we are talking about 8000 rigs over the UK so our water supply which is pretty inefficient will have an extra 32Bn Gallons of load? Hosepipe ban anyone?
alanw - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:

Generally agree but have added some comments/questions below

> (In reply to Trangia)
> Good points
> - Increases gas and oil recovery from existing wells
> - Economical to produce small hydrocarbon reserves
> - Ultimately increases the amount of hydrocarbons accessable
> - Could help the UK not be a net importer of Hydrocarbons and the energy security that that brings.
> - brings down the price of oil and gass
> - It's been done off shore for years so the technology is well developed
>
> Bad bits
> - You are breaking rock under ground so there is the potential for (admittedly under normal operation fairly modest) eathquakes.
> - The chemicals used in fracking are fairly toxic. Each companies mix it propitiatory so it is difficult for any independent research on their effects.
True in the US but not true in UK where all chemicals will have to be declared. One of the mistakes made in the US - don't expect to pump gallons of unknown chemicals into the ground and not have people complain.
> - There is the possibility for ground water to become contaminated with hydrocarbons.
> - In theory it is possible to frack into natural fractures and create large earthquakes
>
Given you probably know more geology than me, I understood from other geologists that shale is fundamentally a very brittle rock and therefore incapable of transmitting large amounts of energy and hence generate large earthquakes. In the Lancashire case, existing fractures were stimulated and it was this that caused the tremors but, even then, they were very modest and fracking is highly unlikely to ever cause earthquakes that would be dangerous.

> In summary the main benefits are cheaper and more secure fuel. The disadvantages all revolve around lack of understanding of the process and possible operating outside of the planned parameters.
>
I believe over a million wells have been fracked worldwide. You say yourself the technology is well developed. I wouldn't argue we know everything but it's I'd say the risks are sufficiently well understood to allow exploratory wells in the UK.
>
> In summary

ebdon - on 16 Aug 2013
It’s nice to see something a bit more informed on the subject, If you're interested the British Geological Survey have some useful info and a few videos explaining some of the issues: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/energy/shalegas/home.html#ad-image-0
ebdon - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: Figure 4 page 8 of this factsheet is also quite useful see the relationship fracking has with groundwater (i.e. a long way away): if your intersted - this is much better then the crap EA one the BBC always trot out http://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=2085
Sir Chasm - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to andic:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
> [...]
>
> Or indeed any drinking water, AIUI each rig requires 4M+ gallons of water per annum we are talking about 8000 rigs over the UK so our water supply which is pretty inefficient will have an extra 32Bn Gallons of load? Hosepipe ban anyone?

If only we were a country surrounded by a plentiful supply of available water, we could use that for fracking instead of tap water. Ah well.
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to alanw:
> (In reply to Andy DB)
>
> Generally agree but have added some comments/questions below
>
> [...]
> True in the US but not true in UK where all chemicals will have to be declared. One of the mistakes made in the US - don't expect to pump gallons of unknown chemicals into the ground and not have people complain.
> [...]
I'm not sure of the exact regulation in the UK. I would have suspected that its much more tightly controlled than in the UK than the US. Even without exact knowledge of what is being used they are still probably not something you would want in the ground water. Though with a correctly done risk survey these chemicals should never get into the ground water.


> Given you probably know more geology than me, I understood from other geologists that shale is fundamentally a very brittle rock and therefore incapable of transmitting large amounts of energy and hence generate large earthquakes. In the Lancashire case, existing fractures were stimulated and it was this that caused the tremors but, even then, they were very modest and fracking is highly unlikely to ever cause earthquakes that would be dangerous.
>
Yes shale is a soft flaky stuff (think just about consolidated fine silt). Fracks in the shale will be low energy. The problem is when there are small high porosity fractures that interconnect between the shale strata and other layers. This can lead to potential fracks in strata that wasn't intended to be fracked. These fractures that might provide porosity interconnection are very difficult to detect remotely.
> [...]
> I believe over a million wells have been fracked worldwide. You say yourself the technology is well developed. I wouldn't argue we know everything but it's I'd say the risks are sufficiently well understood to allow exploratory wells in the UK.
> [...]
This is probably true (I don't have the figure in front of me). Although there are a number of different technologies a lot of the off shore fracking is done in reservoir rocks to enhance recoverey not in shale to extract gas. I agree that this technology is coming but we should try to implement it in the best and safest possible way we can.
John Rushby - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

It would be good to get a more reasoned, sensible discussion, rather than the hyperbole and scaremongering.

I read a number of interviews with protestors, who didn't really seem to understand the science. One a nice retired lady had come from St Pauls in her camper (no doubt fueled by yoghurt) and her reason "I don't know much about fracking, but it doesn't sound very good, so I am here to protest".

If that's the level of dialogue, it's lamentable.

When it comes to energy, I think it is a case of it has to be

1) affordable
2) sustainable
3) nil environmental impact

Pick two.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to John Rushby:

> When it comes to energy, I think it is a case of it has to be
>
> 1) affordable
> 2) sustainable
> 3) nil environmental impact
>
> Pick two.

Or, rather, pick one.
alanw - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:
> (In reply to alanw)

> [...]
> Yes shale is a soft flaky stuff (think just about consolidated fine silt). Fracks in the shale will be low energy. The problem is when there are small high porosity fractures that interconnect between the shale strata and other layers. This can lead to potential fracks in strata that wasn't intended to be fracked. These fractures that might provide porosity interconnection are very difficult to detect remotely.

Quite apart from the fact that this is a separate point to that of induced earthquakes, I'm a bit confused. Isn't the shale already porous with the pores being where the gas is trapped and the fracking is done to increase permeability to the point that the shale will flow. Also, regardless of what strata it is, wouldn't you need a minimum force to fracture the rock. The force imparted by the fluid is going to decrease the further away you get from the borehole meaning there would be a limit to how far any fractures could propagate. I can see if there is an existing fault in the rock that the fractures could connect to but wouldn't such faults be detectable?

wintertree - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

If we want more wind power, we are going to need reliable access to more gas to burn in gas turbine and CCGT plants; these are the most economical way to bring large supply on demand on the timescales that wind fluctuates.

Aside from that, last winter we were 24 hours and two tankers of gas away from running out of the stuff. A bad storm, a boat accident blocking the docks or some other unfortunate event, and the gas turbines would have dropped off the grid against a backdrop of surging electricity demand caused by gas hobs and central heating across the country spluttering and failing. If this happened the grid would either have to start disconnecting entire regions (against a backdrop of constant deep sub zero temperatures) in rolling blackouts or suffer a cascade of failures needing a resynchronisation of all the power plants which could take days.

Various scenarios have the margin on the grid dropping to between 2% and 4%. That is worrying low and if this happens we basically no longer have a dependable first world electricity infrastructure. (See page 5 here https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/75232/electricity-capacity-assessment-report-2013.pdf)

The cons of fracking need to be set against a backdrop of potential riots in 2016 when people find out that the massively over-inflated bills they've been paying to enable wind/subsidy farming has not contributed one iota to preventing large scale rolling blackouts in a cold winter.

If the next solar cycle doesn't start (looking increasingly likely) and various theories are right, we are in for a lot more of these "omega blocks" that cause torrential summer rains and long, deep sub-zero, windless periods in the winters. (This are several day long windless periods that bust any hypothetical grid scale storage scheme, let alone what we have.)

Gas is about the only capacity we can build in time, and external gas supplies are increasingly fragile. This train wreck has been known to be coming for a long time.
Andy DB - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to alanw:
> (In reply to Andy DB)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Quite apart from the fact that this is a separate point to that of induced earthquakes, I'm a bit confused. Isn't the shale already porous with the pores being where the gas is trapped and the fracking is done to increase permeability to the point that the shale will flow.

Ok yes but you have to understand the difference between porosity and permeability which people often don't. Shale is porous (typical values of 0.15) just not as porous as a typical reservoir sand stone (could have porosity as high as 0.3). The difference is that sandstones are permeable where as shale is not. As you say Fracking increases the permeability to let the gas out.

Also, regardless of what strata it is, wouldn't you need a minimum force to fracture the rock. The force imparted by the fluid is going to decrease the further away you get from the borehole meaning there would be a limit to how far any fractures could propagate. I can see if there is an existing fault in the rock that the fractures could connect to but wouldn't such faults be detectable?

This is true assuming that your shale layer is homogeneous. If there are weaknesses then you could end up fracking further than anticipated. Some large faults will be detectable using seismic methods but if they haven't greatly off-set sratifrafic reflectors they may not show easily.
Timmd on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Trangia)

> -- the only real alternatives to fracking or equally problematic schemes are either (1) persuading the world not to use nearly as much energy as we currently do -- fat chance; or (2) developing nuclear fusion or something radically new like that.

We could always start by persuading ourselves not to use as much?

Whatever happens, that'd be good.
Choss Weasel on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> Can any one explain the pros and cons with fracking?
>
> There is a lot of emotion surrounding the issue, but what are true facts?



What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of my business
alanw - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB: Thanks for the clarification. I realise that the reality of rock is that it's always a lot messier than the nice simple diagrams often portray. However, I still think that if the fracking occurs a great depth as is usually the case the chances of fractures propagating all the way up to shallow aquifers is quite remote due to pressure gradients. Certainly remote compared to the risks associated with the whacking great borehole that will have been drilled in order to carry out the fracking - that's where regulations need to be tight.
gd303uk - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: Anthony Ingraffea wrote an interesting letter to the NY Times,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/29/opinion/gangplank-to-a-warm-future.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&...

Dominion - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> (In reply to Trangia) The main con is that people don't want it in their back yard, just like they don't want oil wells, coal mines, nuclear power stations, incinerator plants and wind turbines. Those same people still want to flick a switch and have the light come on though.

There are also reports of people having their water table f*cked, having "water" coming out of their tap that they can set fire to, and so on.

and that's in relatively unpopulated areas in the USA.

The UK has a much higher population density than the USA and Canada, which are places that people tend to quote as saying things like "fracking has been going on over there for years with no problems" - which is apparently a lie

There have been reported water shortages as well in places where fracking is in operation.

Is that just a minor problem?

Do we know who is behind the lobbying that got the fracking industry a whopping tax discount?

Like f*ck we do.

And why are the PM and Boris Johnson both writing letters to the The Telegraph, and The Sunday Times plugging fracking?

Who are the beneficiaries of this? It seems to be going through without even being discussed in Parliament, and getting rushed through before new laws on lobbying get introduced.
Timmd on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Dominion: Good post.
Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Dominion:

> ... having "water" coming out of their tap that they can set fire to, and so on.

This is a myth, see the other thread.

> There have been reported water shortages as well in places where fracking is in operation.
> Is that just a minor problem?

It needs to be considered, yes, but much of the US is much drier than the UK. There are many areas of the UK where rainfall is abundant.

> Who are the beneficiaries of this?

The consumers, who get an ongoing supply of gas and electricity without the price shooting up. Of course the companies supplying that demand do indeed make a profit, as is appropriate.
Ian Black - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: The pros are it's given the Greenham peace women a new sense of purpose to crawl out from under their rocks and save the planet.
Dominion - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Ok, I'll check the other thread and the "myth" - I've seen a comment allegedly from someone in Oklahoma, today, that says it's true, but I suspect that there are paid "trolls" from both sides of the equation writing posts on forums in this discussion.


OK, when I say who are the beneficiaries, it's known that Rupert Murdoch has financial interest in Genie Oil, and we also know that Cameron got absolutely slated in the press for setting up the Leveson Inquiry.


And Cameron learned a very important lesson from that, which is "don't piss off Rupert Murdoch, we'll make your name mud"


So, is the PM going to be asking for a full Inquiring into whether fracking is environmentally safe in the UK, and then find that Murdoch will be leveraging Boris Johnson in to replace him?

Oh, yes, of course he will.

There is no chance of there being a real discussion, when someone who owns the press - and has proven that he can destroy the PM, if he chooses to do so - is financially involved in this,

Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Dominion:

> Ok, I'll check the other thread and the "myth" - I've seen a comment allegedly from someone
> in Oklahoma, today, that says it's true

Well it's true that under some very rare circumstances (when water wells are drilled into methane deposits) that you can get water that you can light, but it's not true that it results from fracking.
malk - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Dominion)
>
> [...]
>
> Well it's true that under some very rare circumstances (when water wells are drilled into methane deposits) that you can get water that you can light, but it's not true that it results from fracking.

to be clear, you think it's false that fracking can introduce methane into drinking water?

Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

> to be clear, you think it's false that fracking can introduce methane into drinking water?

I think it's possible that it might make some minor difference in circumstances already prone to this, but it's certainly not the prime cause.

malk - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: ah ok. please balance your posts in future- your bias is not becoming of a scientist..
Coel Hellier - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

> please balance your posts in future- your bias is not becoming of a scientist..

I notice that you don't feel any obligation to balance your own posts. And I suggest that the "bias" you perceive in me might result from your tinted specs.
andrew549 on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier + Malk: Any chance of some sources to back up the claims so that I can form my own conclusions based on those rather than 2 peoples views/opinions.
malk - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: my specs are tinted neutral gray- it's you who wears the pink specs of science (you don't realise after a while)..
ads.ukclimbing.com
malk - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to andrew549: you think the frackers would allow bad data to get out?
andrew549 on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to malk: I think that the reports that I've read show that there is no evidence of saline brines or fracking fluids contaminating aquifers but there is some of increased amounts of methane being present in aquifers that are close to drill sites.

Also I'm more concerned about well casings and these not failing than the actual fracking as well as the storage of the used fracking fluids and that this does not pollute the environment.
stroppygob - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Dominion:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
> OK, when I say who are the beneficiaries, it's known that Rupert Murdoch has financial interest in Genie Oil, and we also know that Cameron got absolutely slated in the press for setting up the Leveson Inquiry.


When you, David Ike, Ken Livingstone and Peter Tatchell come up with a source of energy for the UK, instead of putting down fracking due to people making money out of it, then we'll listen.
scorpia97 - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Interestingly I watched a program on the BBC a couple of months ago about fracking and the pros and cons it had had in the US. (Read what you want about the standpoint of the BBC, it was still an interesting watch.)

On that they visited a home owner (who was against fracking) who blamed fracking for contaminating their regions drinking water wells, and managed to light her kitchen tap and leave it burning constantly. Didn't look like much of a myth. They also pointed out that methane naturally occurs in drinking water and so it was difficult to say if it was directly linked.

What interested me from an engineering point, was that from one small site you could drill a vast radius around into the shale layer in most directions, well away from the bore hole. Thus affecting quite a large region from a small surface site. They also pointed out that any issues with contaminated water are far more likely to arise from poor workmanship when creating the boreholes, than from the fracking fluid reaching the surface from its intended depth. This could reasonably easily be regulated by tighter controls and a careful introduction of sites instead of the rush they had in America.
needvert on 17 Aug 2013
Rob Naylor - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to scorpia97:
> (In reply to Trangia)
>
> On that they visited a home owner (who was against fracking) who blamed fracking for contaminating their regions drinking water wells, and managed to light her kitchen tap and leave it burning constantly. Didn't look like much of a myth.

It's no myth that some boreholes and wells in the US contain enough methane that you can set fire to the water....there are films of this going back to well before fracking existed.

Usually this is due to drilling through methane-bearing strata to create the borehole.

There have been *some* cases identified where fracking has probably contaminated borehole water....due either to bad practice on the part of the fracking company, or poorly completed boreholes, or both, but as far as I know none of the "burning water" scenarios around have been shown with a high degree of propability to be due to fracking.

And in "Gaslands 2", the Texas Judicial District Court ruled that:

The court references with concern the actions of Mr. Steven Lipsky, under the advice or direction of Ms. Alicia Rich, to intentionally attach a garden hose to a gas vent — not a water line — and then light and burn gas from the end nozzle of the hose. This demonstration was not done for scientific study but to provide local and national news media a deceptive video, calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning.

ie, the "burning water" shown in that clip was an intentionally disingenuous act designed for "effect".
Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

> ... you think the frackers would allow bad data to get out?

So it's all a big conspiracy? And Mossad brought down the Twin Towers, the CIA killed JFK, there were no moon landings but there are dead aliens stored in Area 51?
Simon4 - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier, Rob Naylor : So much of the content of "Gaslands" has been shown to be, as you so delicately put it "disingenuous" or in more common parlance "lies" and hysterical lies at that. Widely discredited, much as Greenpeace has been widely discredited about many subjects, notably but far from exclusively about the Brent Spar fiasco.

Which raises the intriguing question of why those who consider themselves to be so sceptical and proof to the dissembling of "the man" are so willing to swallow wholesale the contents of such obvious polemical propaganda as Gaslands. Why is that not to be treated with equal suspicion as being loaded and agenda driven (which it very clearly is, as well as containing large quantities of factual inaccuracies and straightforward deception). Because it is "our kind" of bias?

It is also fascinating how those who suppose themselves to be sturdily immune to influence and utterly resistant to manipulation suddenly become experts on subjects that they had never heard of a week ago (be it fracking, some court case in America, zero-hours contracts or any other subject that they have been ordered to emote about), yet despite their robust individualism, they all have identical opinions and universally agree with each other that this is all a conspiracy by wicked capitalists or "neo-liberals" or whatever demon they have been told to burn alive this week. But that is no doubt because they are so much harder to manipulate than us sheeple, like Rob who actually has extensive experience in related industries or Coel who is himself a distinguished scientist.

Rob, Coel, must both be wrong and part of the conspiracy or deluded fools. Viviene Westwood has just joined the protest, so who can doubt its integrity and wisdom?
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I am not sure fraccing works economically. The production decline is very steep, figures like 70% fall in production over the first year come to mind.

Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

> I am not sure fraccing works economically.

It does work economically, as can be seen by the large fall in US natural gas prices over the last couple of years.

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9190us3A.htm
Postmanpat on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Vivienne Westwood has joined the anti fracking protesters. That's enough to make mind up. Lets get fracking.
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

It is given that the wells produce gas and that gas is sold into the market in quantities that depress the price paid.

That is at the expense of massive capital outlay by the production companies.

It is not clear that the drillers can make any money from it or even recoup their capital outlay.

Jimbo W on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB:

Another bad point:
- Its yet more currently nicely fixed carbon which is safely underground that we want to release into the atmosphere.
Rob Naylor - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

My employers are involved in all energy sectors. across the spectrum. We do geophysical consultancy,as well as marine mammal observation/ conservation, renewables (offshore windfarms etc) and environmental impact assessmrents.

By far the most profitable sector for us is oil and gas....renewables are very low payers, despite their massive subsidies. Oil and gas is also more sensitive to environmental impact than is the renewables sector, surprisingly. The mess an offshore windfarm array makes of the surrounding seabed is enormous, for example, far in excess of a production platorm that produces energy whole magnitudes larger than an offshore wind array. And the HSE awareness of the oil and gas sector is far higher than that of the renewables industry. Renewables is very reluctant to learn the lessons O & G has amassed over the last 50 years for fear of being seen to have their "greenness" contaminated by learning from the other industry's experience.

I find it hard to believe that the companies who've been at the forefront of fracking in the US have been losing money hand over fist. These people are not daft, and very cost-conscious.
Rob Naylor - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to Andy DB)
>
> Another bad point:
> - Its yet more currently nicely fixed carbon which is safely underground that we want to release into the atmosphere.

True, but on the other hand, we need "hot standby" capacity to cover for occasions when renewables can't supply (in the past 2 winters there've been 2 lots of two weeks when not a single wind generator was turning in or around the UK due to lack of wind). Gas is cleaner in this respect than coal or oil....witness the US recudtion in carbon emmissions since their fracked gas came on stream...and contast with Germany's decision last year to start building 30 new coal-fired power stations after realising that renewables just weren't cutting it for them.
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

In a July 2012 Society of Petroleum Engineers paper (peer reviewed) by Ruud Weijemars, he found, amongst other things, that

“throughout 2009, companies such as Petrohawk, Devon, Chesapeake and EOG could not produce gas with an operational profit."

I am pretty sure this is still true. They are converting capital into production, but not profitably.

In my view it is telling that here is little interest in in shale gas from the majors.
Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

> It is not clear that the drillers can make any money from it or even recoup their capital outlay.

There are plenty of companies lining up to do it worldwide, and one presumes they are not idiots and have done their sums.

Where it is genuinely unclear whether private companies can recoup their outlay you don't get many firms volunteering (e.g. next generation of nuclear power stations in the UK).
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

There are plenty of companies lining up to do it worldwide, and one presumes they are not idiots and have done their sums.

Well, they are good at PR and raising money from investors. It remains to be seen if these companies have a long term future. Again, if it is so good, where are the majors?

Clint86 - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: I think its becoming clear that we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground to keep CO2 emissions under control. This obviously means a lot less energy to be used.
Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:

> Well, they are good at PR and raising money from investors. It remains to be seen if these companies have a long term future.

If it's investors money that's lost then ok, that's what venture capital is about. But, even if they have been over-optimistic, and fracking isn't viable at current prices, all that means is that capacity will be reduced and prices will rise to the point where it is viable.

The fact that companies are on the edge, and uncertain of their profitability, is exactly what should happen in a competitive free market (and produces the minimum price to the consumer, as opposed to higher prices and guaranteed profits).

Anyhow, this "it isn't profitable" idea is refreshingly at odds with the usual complaint that it's all about big business raking in money.
ads.ukclimbing.com
malk - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to lowersharpnose)
>
> It does work economically, as can be seen by the large fall in US natural gas prices over the last couple of years.
>

it *can* work? don't we have a different system for fixing prices in the EU?

malk - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: don't you have issues with fracking if this is the case?
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/04/fracking-leaks-may-make-gas-dirtier-coal
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I think it will become clear how the rewards achieved by the management of the shale gas companies are much greater than shareholder returns.

My angle is as an oil and gas investor.
malk - on 17 Aug 2013
Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

> ... don't you have issues with fracking if this is the case?

Are you asking whether we should stop using fossil fuels because of the resulting climate change? Well yes, we should. If you can persuade everyone to use only 10% of their current energy then great, go ahead.

None of the renewables are close to being a viable replacement, and are far costlier and mostly have just as bad an environmental impact.

The only real alternative to fossil fuels is a new generation of nuvlear power. If you're asking me would I prefer new nuclear fission plants instead of fracking, then yes, I would.

Even there, though, new nuclear power plants will take some time, and there are issues with the gas supply and with fuel prices in the near term.
Clint86 - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: When you say renewables aren't a viable alternative do you mean for producing the energy we consume now, or ten per cent of the energy we produce now?
Coel Hellier - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Clint86:

> When you say renewables aren't a viable alternative do you mean for producing the energy we
> consume now, or ten per cent of the energy we produce now?

The former.
wintertree - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Clint86)
>
> [...]
>
> The former.

Heretic. Don't you know that whilst the last 50 years of technological progress have made no difference to nuclear fission in terms of safety and viability, it has magically transformed renewables to the point where it can supply the 258GW that we need. (That's all energy - oil, petrol, gas etc. as well as electricity.)

At this moment, wind is providing 3.6GW. Can you imagine have 76 times as many turbines in the UK? That's what we would need to supply our total energy demand.

Clint86 - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: There is an increasing number of people who support reducing demand and developing renewables. That would be my preferred way forward. It may be said that there is no chance that the majority would follow a lead like this, but it is common knowledge that if we don't, there is not much hope.
Eric9Points - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to Andy DB)
>
> Another bad point:
> - Its yet more currently nicely fixed carbon which is safely underground that we want to release into the atmosphere.

Agreed. However if it is used to replace coal as a power source then it is at least halving the amount of CO2 produced per GWh.
alanw - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: The economics issue is interesting. The initial rush in the US has seen wholesale gas prices drop to the point that fracked gas is barely profitable but, as you say, in a functioning market that should work itself out. However, there are a couple of other reasons why companies might be happy to operate at a loss.

Most of the fracking in shale has, to date, been for gas but it's also possible to frack for oil in shale, it just depends on the geology. Companies are keen to gain the experience on gas before moving to oil plays where the profits are expected to be much higher with oil still above $100 a barrel on the gloabl market. This is already happening in N Dakota and it seems to be forgotten that they're drilling for oil at Balcombe.

I've also heard that there are a lot of Chinese companies operating in the US where they're looking to gain the experience before starting back home where the shale gas resrves are also thought to be huge. Sensible policy to pay the long game but means short-term profits are less of an issue.

Overall this makes me think, as many do, that while fracking will probably produce gas or oil economically it's unlikely to result in significant drops in wholesale prices in the long term, especially in the UK where regulations are tighter and the relevant service industry is much less developed.
wbo - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: Companies never like operating at a loss, and certainly not here. The economics of shale gas are quite interesting as initially lots of small companies tried to startup, but as they'd borrowed the cash the low rate of return, and the need to cover interest killed them and concentrated ownership to a few larger companies. Borrowing billions is pricey to do.

The price of gas is not easy to calculate as unlike oil it doesn't lend itself to easy transport and a floating market - LNG facilities, pipelines cost billions, so the price is normally prearranged to guarantee commercial viability

There have been tons of wells fraced in the n sea, and it's well understood. The issues come more from qc of casing, and the proximity of the reservoir to anything else.
Alex Slipchuk on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to Andy DB: how reversible is the damage we are not sure we're doing?
lowersharpnose - on 17 Aug 2013
In reply to wbo:

The economics of shale gas are quite interesting as initially lots of small companies tried to startup, but as they'd borrowed the cash the low rate of return, and the need to cover interest killed them and concentrated ownership to a few larger companies.

Are you sure?

Generally, banks will not lend exploration companies, too risky. Money is normally raised from shareholders, hence no interest payments. A company can only go back to shareholders so many times for more money when all they have produced is failure.
seaofdreams - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

Hydraulic fracturing has been around for a very long time (think 80's) and most production wells drilled these days have hydraulic fracturing as a possible EOR method in the early planning and a lot are fully executed - I've got 2 sub sea wells to work up for next year. Some wells are even stress caged meaning dynamic hydraulic fracturing during the drilling process - I'm working this right now for a subsea well in January.

The real risk is zonal isolation failure, that's where geological formations bearing diffrent fluids are allowed to equlibrate when they would not naturally and results in the flow of chemicals and or oil/gas into (maybe portable) water. This is a cementing and identification issue which must be addressed in any well planning process.

Also, because these wells drill tight rocks (low permeability) they cannot flow without an EOR method but that also means there is a significantly reduced risk of a blow out, this makes them safer and reduces there max probable impact on the local environment.

So you see it's not hydraulic fracturing its well design that you need to be worried about.
Clint86 - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to seaofdreams: Plus bring more fossil fuels to the surface to burn.
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
> I am not sure fraccing works economically.

Unfortunately it is the mawl that I'm linking to but

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396378/50-year-old-fracking-site-makes-mockery-Balcombe-zea...
lowersharpnose - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:

That well produces oil. My "I am not sure fraccing works economically" comment was about shale gas. Perhaps should have made it clearer that my doubts are about the economics of shale gas production.
gd303uk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: Gassland is a good documentary , there might be a few faults but worth a watch
If you have Netflix it is free.
http://movies.netflix.com/movie/Gasland/70129353?ca_source=gaw&ca_pl=&ca_chid=2001681&aw...
malk - on 18 Aug 2013
ads.ukclimbing.com
malk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:
>
> So you see it's not hydraulic fracturing its well design that you need to be worried about.

hydraulic fracking is unpredictable though. the models cannot predict where a frack ends or what happens when it reaches other rocks

malk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose: in summary:

The shale gas and tight oil booms have been oversold. According to actual well production data filed in many states, shale gas and shale oil reserves have been overestimated by operators by as much as 400-500%.

Wall Street has played a key behind-the-scenes role in hyping the fracking boom through mergers and acquisitions and transactional fees, similar to the pattern seen in the housing boom that led to the financial crisis.

High productivity shale plays are not common. Just five gas plays and two oil plays account for 80% of production of those energy sources, while the most productive areas constitute relatively small “sweet spots” within those plays.

Production rates are already in decline in many shale plays. The high rates of per-well investment required to maintain production mean U.S. shale gas production may have already peaked and maintaining production will require high rates of potentially unsustainable, high-cost drilling.

malk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to seaofdreams: by real risk you surely mean a known risk?
this guy has more experience and knowledge than you.. worth watching if you can't distinguish between 80's fracturing and modern techniques
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSWmXpEkEPg
malk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:

"In the design of hydraulic fractures, it is necessary to make simplifying assumptions. Fifty years ago, our industry was mathematically obligated to describe fractures as simple, planar structures when attempting to predict fracture geometry and optimize treatments. Although computing tools have improved, AS AN INDUSTRY WE REMAIN INCAPABLE OF FULLY DESCRIBING THE COMPLEXITY OF THE FRACTURE, RESERVOIR, AND FLUID FLOW REGIMES."
Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) 119143, 2009
wbo - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose; yes, I am extremely sure on the economics, and how things have panned out. If you've borrowed at the very minimum a few hundred million you do not have the luxury of having 10, 20 years to turn a net profit. Your route to fortune is find it, develop it, sell it

Re. Understanding the mechanical effects of fracing not being understood - that is not really true- on a scale of features of a meter this is hard to model exactly, but you can build a model , populate it with rock properties, build and add a model of the subsurface pressure regime and simulate effects, effectiveness. You can't model meter scale variability well though.

Back to money, anything to do with energy production for the uk = cash, and lots of it. And lots means lots, multiple 10's of billions. Sadly as long as There's no consistent strategy for this you will by default get the most expensive option as you can't commit to any short term suffering for long term good.
Nuclear - don't like it
Wind - don't like it
Solar - no interest - why
Shale gas - don't like it

So you end up with dirty expensive coal, and oil, gas, that will never be cheap and will only go up. The longer you dither the worse this gets, and the higher the cost to the customer gets
lowersharpnose - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to wbo:

lowersharpnose; yes, I am extremely sure on the economics, and how things have panned out. If you've borrowed at the very minimum a few hundred million you do not have the luxury of having 10, 20 years to turn a net profit. Your route to fortune is find it, develop it, sell it

Which is exactly why banks don't lend to explo companies.

Who were these companies?
Totally-Normal - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia: I say frack the desolate North.
Rob Naylor - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:
> (In reply to Trangia) Gassland is a good documentary , there might be a few faults but worth a watch

As already stated further up the thread, not just " a few faults" but deliberate use of deceptive tactics (connecting a garden hose to a gas source for example) to deceive the viewer.
wbo - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to malc;n the design of hydraulic fractures, it is necessary to make simplifying assumptions. Fifty years ago, our industry was mathematically obligated to describe fractures as simple, planar structures when attempting to predict fracture geometry and optimize treatments. Although computing tools have improved, AS AN INDUSTRY WE REMAIN INCAPABLE OF FULLY DESCRIBING THE COMPLEXITY OF THE FRACTURE, RESERVOIR, AND FLUID FLOW REGIMES."
Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) 119143, 2009

What that means is that models have improved, but we still don't have a full story. We might be able to say fracture density in a meter of rock is x/100cms, but you won't be able to say it's at cm 1 or cm 99. I suspect you're taking it out of context to say the models are inadequate, but that is not what it's saying

Lowersharpnose - I will try to get you a reference, but it was in the magazine first break - it dealt with historic success of companies, not predictive, so the arguments about production rates are moot - it is dealing with what has happened. I will try to find it, but it is the first day of school tomorrow.

I guess I am not so concerned about fracing as these things can be done right, and this is not the US. I am bothered about a lack of direction, lack of any meaningful policy to energy, and the end effect of that is that the consumer suffers because fixing stuff after it's broke is always pricey. I'm also vexed by the reactionary stance to anything that will alter the status quo be it windfarms or fracking even tho' the status quo is unsustainable and inevitably very expensive
gd303uk - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor: that sounds like bullshit, it would make sense for a smear capaign to discredit the film with stories like that, its going to be hard to prove disprove that story.
Methane can leak into the tap water system.

 A 1976 study by the Colorado Division of Water found that this area was plagued with gas in the water problems back then. And it was naturally occurring.

As the report stated there was “troublesome amounts of methane” in the water decades before fracking began. It seems that in geographical areas gas has always been in the water.

Rob Naylor - on 18 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:

You've obviously not read my comments further up the thread where I (a) cover EXACTLY the point you make about naturally occurring methane and specify it being observed for decades beofe fracking began and (b) also quote the ruling of the Texas District Court which found that the filming in this case HAD been falsified in order to create "an impression".

Why do people jump in and comment on threads like this without taking the trouble to see what's been covered previously?
Jim C - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to wintertree: In reply to wintertree:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> [...]

>
> At this moment, wind is providing 3.6GW. Can you imagine have 76 times as many turbines in the UK? That's what we would need to supply our total energy demand.

It is not that simple. Wind cannot possibly supply all our total energy demand, so no matter how many turbines you build, it is impossible at the moment to do so due to intermittency issues, and lack of storage capability, you will always need a backup.

Snag is,intermittency is theoretically ( and demonstrably) 100% , as there is the distinct possibility of lack of wind over the whole of Europe for long periods, then you need to have 100 % alternative capacity for the entire demand.

Also at the moment we need say a 20% overcapacity in our current practice to allow for station outages ( planned or otherwise) then in theory you would need to plan that overcapacity into any wind replacement as well, it may well be more than 20% for wind, I don't know the figures for reliability of all the different manufacturers of Wind Turbines, all I know is that the ones the company I work for builds, does not have 100% reliability, so I will leave it at that, and then we have to assume that some turbines will be on maintenhance, and some will fail in normal operation.

So you not only need 120% of conventional backup, AND 100% + ? of wind capacity,as the conventional capacity we currently have cannot be switched on and off as needed by reliance on wind.

So , in the theoretical world of 76 times the number of current turbines, supplying our total demand, that would include 120% of current conventional capacity I assume being replaced with something like gas plant, that we will have to pay to sit there theoretically doing nothing but depreciate most of the time,mad we 'rely' on wind.


DNS on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

The BBC website today has a number of activists self-superglued to the Cuadrilla(SP?) office front window. 'What provision have they made for having a pee?' was the first thought I had.


gd303uk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor: In reply to Rob Naylor: rob the court case in question , isn't that in connection with gassland 2,? I haven't watched that yet .
I did post early on an interesting letter by Cornell professor Ingraffea , which you may have failed to read, that looks at the problem with methane and its leaking , that goes beyond flaming taps.
Gassland is still worth a watch despite the people who claim it to be a lie, pick on a few faults and discredit the entire film.
You either believe the fossil fuel companies claims and accept that fracking is a solution to demininshing fossil fuel or you don't, the fossil fuel companies wouldn't lie would they?
I don't see fracking as a viable solution, of course few companies and people will benifit from this type of mining, even if fracking was perfect what will we do when that runs out, which will be a lot sooner than the gas companies claim.
Thousands of wells all over our country, mining for a short term solution to the fuel crisis is not gong to be beneficial to us In the long run
Don't believe the hype that it will save our economy , lower our gasbills and provide jobs and be environmentally safe.
It will make a few people some money. That's about it really .


Gassland is still worth watching.
But you may prefer truthland ?

Here is some interesting reading:

http://www.lhup.edu/rmyers3/marcellus.htm

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/pro-fracking-prof-does-u-turn-1.1309893#.UhMs2Mu9KSM

Postmanpat on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
> You either believe the fossil fuel companies claims and accept that fracking is a solution to demininshing fossil fuel or you don't, the fossil fuel companies wouldn't lie would they?

No, you try and sort through and assess the evidence on a rational basis and reach a conclusion tht way.

> I don't see fracking as a viable solution, of course few companies and people will benifit from this type of mining, even if fracking was perfect what will we do when that runs out, which will be a lot sooner than the gas companies claim.
> Thousands of wells all over our country, mining for a short term solution to the fuel crisis is not gong to be beneficial to us In the long run
> Don't believe the hype that it will save our economy , lower our gasbills and provide jobs and be environmentally safe.
>
On what basis? Quite clearly it has transformed the cost and supply of energy in the US. Apart from watching a couple of propaganda films what information has made you so sure all the contrary evidence is false? Why do you think it would involves "thousands of wells all over the country"?
gd303uk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Postmanpat: are you choosing to ignore the links I have posted ?
Are you suggesting that fraking isn't a short term solution, and that it is environmentally safe,?
And can you post a few links confirming your claim that " quite clearly it has transformed the cost and supply of energy in the USA"
Lets not turn this into a you believe in propaganda and I don't chat.
The real debate is is it worth doing? And is it safe?
Coel Hellier - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:

> Are you suggesting that fraking isn't a short term solution, ...

All fossil fuel reserves are limited. There is a lot of gas to be got by fracking; it's a medium-term solution.

> ... and that it is environmentally safe,?

No less so than other fossil fuels. Of course all fossil fuels contribute to climate change so are not safe in that sense.

> And can you post a few links confirming your claim that " quite clearly it has transformed the cost
> and supply of energy in the USA"

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9190us3A.htm
gd303uk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: so you agree it is a short term solution And that it isn't environmentally safe , cheers.

aren't natural wellhead gas prices in the us effected by crude oil and other fossil fuels as well as gas supply in other parts of the world?
That chart does not confirm hydrolic fracture mining has had any effect on price, Or to the customer.



Postmanpat on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:
> (In reply to Postmanpat) are you choosing to ignore the links I have posted ?
> Are you suggesting that fraking isn't a short term solution, and that it is environmentally safe,?
> And can you post a few links confirming your claim that " quite clearly it has transformed the cost and supply of energy in the USA"
> Lets not turn this into a you believe in propaganda and I don't chat.
> The real debate is is it worth doing? And is it safe?

Google Richard Pierce Jr fracking and open the PDF.
The US is less dependent on imported oil than it has been for generations, natural gas prices have collapsed and thousands of jobs have been created.
If you really don't know this you've not understood the issue.

# According to the federal government’s Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, by 2035, 80% of America’s domestic gas supply will come from shale and other unconventional sources.
# A 2012 study by forecasting firm HIS Global Insight found that shale oil and gas generated $87 billion in domestic capital investments; by the end of the decade, that figure is expected to jump to $172.5 billion and could reach $5.1 trillion by 2035.
# By 2025, PricewaterhouseCoopers projects lower costs of shale gas will produce 1 million domestic manufacturing jobs and tack on .5% to America’s GDP.
# Between 2012 and 2015, shale gas will save American households an average $900 annually on heating and electricity.
# From 2011 to 2012, the rise of natural gas use has reduced U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 5.3%.

On the wells front, even if you take the upside estimate for the UK of 100,000 wells, that's spread over 50 years (each well lasts something approaching 10 years av) and nowadays they are usually grouped about 10 at a time on plots the size of a football pitch. So that's about 2,000 football pitches at anyone time spread across the UK. Taking the lower estimates of 10,000 wells that's 100 football pitches over the whole of the UK.

ByEek - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Taking the lower estimates of 10,000 wells that's 100 football pitches over the whole of the UK.

An interesting point well made. Unfortunately successive governments have already sponsored the selling off of school playing fields to property developers! :-)
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coel Hellier - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:

> so you agree it is a short term solution And that it isn't environmentally safe , cheers.

You are arguing dishonestly with that reply.
Postmanpat on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier) so you agree it is a short term solution And that it isn't environmentally safe , cheers.
>
> aren't natural wellhead gas prices in the us effected by crude oil and other fossil fuels as well as gas supply in other parts of the world?
> That chart does not confirm hydrolic fracture mining has had any effect on price, Or to the customer.
>
Of course it does. In the past gas prices in the US generally moved in line with oil prices. Since fracking sharply increased gas supplies the differential has ballooned. US gas now costs about a third the cost of oil.
If you can find an energy analyst who has a sensible alternative explanation for this phenomenon let us know.

malk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

if you think shale development in the UK will mirror the US, read this report: http://shalebubble.org/wall-street/

if you think it will reduce consumer prices read this:
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/cuadrilla-pr-man-admits-george-osbornes-shale-...

if you want hear from an expert in the field, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSWmXpEkEPg

have you addressed the greenhouse gas issues raised above, or the net energy budget of production vs consumption (i've heard there is as much energy used in the production as in the consumption?)


jkarran - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

> have you addressed the greenhouse gas issues raised above, or the net energy budget of production vs consumption (i've heard there is as much energy used in the production as in the consumption?)

Think about that for a second. Even tar sand yields more energy than the extraction requires.

I'm not in favor of a rush on our domestic gas reserves but nor do I think the case is helped by blatantly silly made up statistics.
jk
malk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran: has anyone even done the calculations?
malk - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran: Monbiot's angle: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/19/david-cameron-fracking-mania-machismo

the pro-fracking lobby will pick up on his machismo slant to dismiss everything else he says, possibly..
malk - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> ... you think the frackers would allow bad data to get out?

So it's all a big conspiracy? And Mossad brought down the Twin Towers, the CIA killed JFK, there were no moon landings but there are dead aliens stored in Area 51?

is this this really the sum total of your fracking bias?
please do better..
gd303uk - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Postmanpat: In a strange way Fracking has become economically unviable and has spured an oil rush. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2012/10/23/gas-fracking-spurs-oil-rush/

fracking an can be responsible for environmental problems, polluting ground water and increased greenhouse gass, there is a link above confirming this. even the EPA have a hard time disagreeing with increased pollutants in ground water. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-epa-dimock-20130728,0,4847442.story

natural gas is a limited resource. Sooner or later, we will have to move away from these limited resources, and move diligently towards renewable resources. We should not procrastinate until our resources are depleted. In the meantime, it is understandable that our society would like to utilize its domestic resources. However, in the process of doing so, the environment and the quality of the water should not be sacrificed.

I will leave it there.

Thank you
Graham.
Postmanpat on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:

So youre agreeing that its driven down the price of energy which is good for yhe econom?
gd303uk - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Postmanpat: , buy expensive and sell cheap ;) What kind of capitalist are you?




Eric9Points - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to gd303uk:

>
> fracking an can be responsible for environmental problems, polluting ground water and increased greenhouse gass, there is a link above confirming this. even the EPA have a hard time disagreeing with increased pollutants in ground water. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-epa-dimock-20130728,0,4847442.story
>

I think others have said on this thread that contamination is possible if the wells aren't constructed properly. Reading the report you link to there's no evidence to suggest that this isn't the cause of the contamination if indeed it does come from the wells.

> natural gas is a limited resource. Sooner or later, we will have to move away from these limited resources, and move diligently towards renewable resources. We should not procrastinate until our resources are depleted. In the meantime, it is understandable that our society would like to utilize its domestic resources. However, in the process of doing so, the environment and the quality of the water should not be sacrificed.
>

Well yes, there is a lot being done to move away from carbon based energy generation and as I understand it the new reserves of gas can be used to replace coal and so reduce CO2 emissions. Not great but a step forward. Other than deciding to build more nuclear power stations now what else would you like to see happening today to reduce CO2 emissions?

Richard J - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
It's clear that shale gas brought down the price of energy in the USA, which was good for their economy, but it's not at all obvious the same would happen in the UK even if shale gas was exploited on a big enough scale, which I don't think it will be any time soon, for reasons below. The USA was disconnected from world gas markets and so following the rapid expansion of shale gas there was a glut which made US gas prices diverge from the rest of the world. There's been political resistance to building the gas liquification plants that would allow the US to export the gas and thus get higher prices for it. The UK, in contrast, is very well connected to world gas markets via long distance pipelines and imports of LNG, so this won't happen here.

I'm quite prepared to believe that there's a lot of shale gas in the UK, and even that it won't be that risky if done properly (though I think there are still questions to answer about methane leakage, which is important given what a powerful greenhouse gas methane is). But I don't believe that it will be extracted at any scale - certainly not at any scale that would make a real difference to our energy economy - in the near future.

The key difference between shale gas and conventional gas is, as a few people have mentioned above, the very rapid decay in flow rates, on time scales of only a year or two. It's not a question of drilling a well, and then inconspicuously piping the gas away for the next ten or twenty years, as happens with conventional gas. you've got to keep drilling new wells to replace the old ones, often at densities much more than one per square kilometer. This research note is instructive on the economic implications of this:
http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/uk-shale-gas-no-get-out-of-jail-free-card/

It's instructive to take a look on Google Earth at intensively developed shale gas areas in the USA, like round Fort Worth, TX, where the oblong patchs of drilling pads are very obvious. Now try to imagine that density of industrialisation - a thousand new wells per year, according to the estimate cited above - in Cheshire, Sussex, the Costwolds, E. Yorkshire, pausing only to compare a map of shale prospects with a map of Conservative rural constituencies. It's not going to happen. Apart from anything else, the drillers are US/international, they don't need to come here to put themselves through those planning hassle and expense when there are plenty of other countries with shale/unconventional gas in less controversial places.

I'm sure there are people in government who know all this (or they should, if they listened to anyone other than Lord Browne). So why are they hyping shale gas up so much at the moment? In the past I'd have wondered, as so often with this government, whether it was stupidity or dishonesty (or possibly both). But now I've come to realise that what we've got is actually the first completely post-modern government, which sees no need to make any connection between what it says and reality, as long as it has the appearance of doing something. So lots of talk about shale gas now gives them the appearance of having an energy policy. Unfortunately real life, in the form of the consequences of the shambles their energy policy is in reality, will catch up with us all before long.
malk - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Richard J: great post and hard to refute, but i'm sure Coel will try..
mudmonkey5 - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:

I've been a drilling fluids engineer and drilled oil and gas wells around the world for almost 20 years, so I'm fairly knowledgable on all this stuff. Trust me, the nonsense reported in the media, the myths being perpetuated and the complete lack of understanding in the majority of the reporting is simply beyond belief.

It's a complicated subject and some lazy journalist doing a half-assed job googling "fracking" and doing a couple of days of research will not give them a real grasp of the topic and allow them to summarize accurately and present the facts to their readers/audience.

Think about the last thing you read in the mainstream media about,say, climbing or avalanches - both reasonably complex subjects that we can't really expect mainstream journalists to have a proper understanding of. Rate the piece from 1-10. 1 is wildly innacurate/conjecture/hearsay/myth-peddling/sensationalism etc. and 10 gets it pretty much spot on.

For me, most of those pieces get about a 4/10. I would say a 4/10 for about 85% of what you might read about fracking is being generous.
seaofdreams - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to mudmonkey5:

Don't bother man, you're talking at the wind and its not listening.
alanw - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Richard J:
>
> I'm sure there are people in government who know all this (or they should, if they listened to anyone other than Lord Browne). So why are they hyping shale gas up so much at the moment?

I'd suggest the following article might offer one explanation:

http://www.pwc.co.uk/tax/publications/total-tax-contribution-of-the-uk-oil-gas-industry.jhtml

-summary: oil & gas industry contributes 16.4% of corporation tax or 5.5% of total tax revenues in the UK, a total of £30.1bn per year.

Whether you think this is a good thing or not is up to you. Personally, I'd think a government would be remiss not to at least allow exploration to assess the prospects, especially in such times of austerity. The Bloomberg article had a lot of estimating, no doubt very informed but if there's one thing I've learned from geologists and drillers it's that no two plays are the same. Basing prospects for UK shale on what's happened in the US is risky but until we carry out some test wells here it's all guess work.
Jim C - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Richard J:

So why are they hyping shale gas up so much at the moment?

Lots of reasons, as suggested already, and they want to show EDF that we have other options other than Nuclear New build, as they are in negotiations on the strike price at the moment. So it is in our interest for them to talk it up (even if it is not true)
mudmonkey5 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:

I know! I skimmed through the rest of the comments and yours was one of the very few to talk any sense. There seems to be a widespread belief that groundwater contamination is pretty much a given consequence in every case, rather than a result of failed cement jobs. I would have thought any reasonably in-depth investigation or acquaintance with the facts would allow most journalists to make the distinction. To be fair, I have seen it hinted at in a BBC Horizon program but I don't really think they fully grasped it.
malk - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to mudmonkey5: i think you and seaofdreams have vested interests if your names are anything to go by..
as a matter of interest, what proportion of cement job failures are detected?
malk - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to mudmonkey5:
> (In reply to Trangia)
>
> I've been a drilling fluids engineer and drilled oil and gas wells around the world for almost 20 years, so I'm fairly knowledgable on all this stuff.

as knowledgeable as this guy?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSWmXpEkEPg

>
> It's a complicated subject and some lazy journalist doing a half-assed job googling "fracking" and doing a couple of days of research will not give them a real grasp of the topic and allow them to summarize accurately and present the facts to their readers/audience.
>

indeed it is, but it doesn't help when lobby groups fail to acknowledge the dangers..
let's face it, these frackers have little idea what is happening down there..
mudmonkey5 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to mudmonkey5) i think you and seaofdreams have vested interests if your names are anything to go by..
> as a matter of interest, what proportion of cement job failures are detected?

Well, I have made a pretty good living from the business over 20 years but I would not try to defend it as sustainable or the way forward. If it all stopped tomorrow then it would not bother me in the least - I would take it as an opportunity to go and do something more interesting. If I did feel I had vested interests that I wanted to protect then I wouldn't waste my time lobbying on UKC!

Each and every cement job is pressure tested - it is a legal requirement for the operating companies, so 100% of failures are detected. They are then obliged to perform secondary cementing until a satisfactory pressure test is obtained.

It does happen though (pretty rare, couldn't give you figures)and it can't always be rectified, so it is a risk.

Cynicism over vested interests is entirely understandable and often justified I'm sure. It should not get in the way of the facts though.
malk - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to mudmonkey5:
> so 100% of failures are detected.

quite a claim, but i was thinking more about after the casing..
mudmonkey5 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

Don't know - I'm getting an error message for the vid. I can see it is 1hr45mins long though! Not sure I would have time to get through it.

I see that he is an academic and speaking at a convention hosted by "The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition" which suggests an "anti" stance.

He may be extremely knowledgable, credible, unbiased and objective. Cornell University is highly respected I believe.

If he wasn't, how would you know? Does he have vested interests - lecture fees, research funding, publishing papers? Does he have any actual industry experience rather than academic?

I guess the point I had in mind with the original post is how we can only really form most of our opinions on complex matters through the filter of media reporting. We can't take the time to investigate all these matters ourselves comprehensively and many of them would be far beyond our understaning.

When I see reporting on climbing/skiing/avalanches/the oil industry (things I know something about myself) and see how badly wrong they get it for the most part, it makes you think.



mudmonkey5 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

It's actually true though!

Not sure what you mean - the casing is run, then cemented in place, hence different zones isolated as confirmed by pressure testing.

Do you mean breakdown of the cement or the casing itself in the long term? For sure that will happen in extremely rare, isolated cases - so again, I'm not trying to deny the existence of risks.
malk - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to mudmonkey5: pipeline integrity has never been violated? what happens with air gaps in cementwork?
mudmonkey5 - on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to malk:

I don't have the faintest idea about pipelines, I'm a mud engineer! You would need to ask a pipeline engineer, there are probably some on UKC. Are these specific questions relating to the video? I wasn't able to view it.

OK, it's a fair cop - you have rumbled me as the lobbyist leader of a shadowy cabal of multinational vested corporate interests operating to devastating effect on the UKC forum. You will indeed have liquid fire shooting from your kitchen taps by mid 2014 at the latest.

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/science-technology/only-a-30-chance-of-cthulhu-say-fracking-exper...
Dominion - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to stroppygob:

> When you, David Ike, Ken Livingstone and Peter Tatchell come up with a source of energy for the UK, instead of putting down fracking due to people making money out of it, then we'll listen.



Private Eye (current issue - 1347) leads with news about the All Party Parliament Group that will assist Parliament to cut through the rhetoric and hyperbole on fracking.

It's led by Dan Byles (Tory, North Warwickshire) and is funded by - amongst others - Cuadrilla, INEOS, The UK Onshore Operators Group, and Ove Averup, and Statoil

And it's "secretariat" - according to Private Eye - is being provided by Edelmen, a lobbying group who represent Cuadrilla.


It'll be absolutely impartial, no doubt...


||-)

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.