Rather bizarre, repeat bizarre as in not the least worrying, wishful thinking from The Independent today:

The Government has rejected shale gas technology as a solution to Britain's energy crisis, conceding it will do little to cut bills or keep the lights on.

Supporters of the fracking technology – which blasts water, sand and chemicals at extreme pressures to release gas trapped deep in rock – argue it could be the single greatest factor in transforming Britain's energy market, reducing our reliance on foreign imports and dramatically reducing costs.

But The Independent on Sunday has learned that industry experts made clear at a meeting attended by senior ministers, including David Cameron and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, that the UK's reserves were smaller than first thought and could be uneconomical to extract.

Two main points here:

1.  Fracking itself has been on hold for over a year, so no exploration has taken place.  How can companies discover something doesn't exist if no one is actually searching for it?

Secondly, who was present at this meeting?

 The Prime Minister convened the Downing Street summit to hear from companies including Shell, Centrica and Schlumberger, which have been working on shale gas projects in America and exploring the potential of supplies in Ukraine and China.

The ministers were told Britain was not in a position to exploit vast amounts of its own shale gas stores. "The reserves aren't absolutely huge compared with the likes of America, Ukraine and North Africa," said a senior government source. "And we are relatively densely populated. It is a question of how much we can get out, and at what cost. There is a not-insignificant amount of domestic supply, but not a game-changing amount."

Centrica of course has a huge vested interest in locking people into high gas price fears, scamming the government out of nuclear funds and getting a good price for when they eventually sell themselves to Gazprom. A reality of low gas prices makes Centrica stock look way overpriced. 

As for the mention of Shell, the meeting would sound more convincing if it also included BP,Exxon Mobiil, ConocoPhillips,Chevron, Marathon, BP, Statoil, Eni, and Total. Where were they?  Besides, the story of shale is that it has been the product  of small companies. It's natural to trust multi-nationals, but those very companies had a lengthy history in the US of dismissing shale as some kind of fad that would never work. Until, that is, they were forced to spend billions on buying companies. It makes economic sense for Centrica or Shell to dismiss the economic impact of UK shale for an obvious reason: They are trying to negotiate a lower price.

Schlumberger's appearance is a mystery, given that they are one of  big potential winners from European shale as they provide fracking equipment. Again, if we saw the appearance of their competitors saying the same thing (Halliburton, Weatherford, Calfrac etc) this story would be more credible. We don't and it isn't

But of course the main absence, which can't be confirmed, would appear to be that of the people who actually look for shale gas: Cuadrilla, Igas and Dart Energy among others. Let's recalll recent revealations from the last two, as well as Cuadrilla not only defending their 200TCF estimate but now pubicly declaring it conservative.

Without the input of those actually seeking it, saying shale won't happen in the UK is, to be polite, somewhat premature.

This does sound like the increasingly desperate denial of reality of those who stand to lose most from shale gas.This isn't a battle of ideas or opinions, this is simply a battle of reality. A year's worth of patience will prove who the winner is here  It could be the greens, but judging from the reality of geology world wide this is unlikely. But we'll see either way, and to get into a fight about it now is not necessarily wrong, simply pointless. 

What is regrettable is the seeming attempt to strangle shale at birth in the UK by continually raising unfounded or out of date fears as reason not to proceed. It's easy to expect that from Centrica (and National Grid here) who stand to lose billions once the gravy trains of CCS, Nuclear and Offshore Wind hop the tracks, but we should also anticipate that a UK government be a bit more supportive of companies that want to give the government money in the form of 62% tax as opposed to scaring consumers with lights going out scams. We should  expect some neutrality at the very least.

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  • I can understand the paranoia, but don't think that will happen. This is our resource after all and the government couldn't get away with it. Allegedly

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  • Why would you acquire a licence and then fail to develop the resource? What would be in it for the licence holder?<br /><br />Restricting supply only makes sense if you control almost all the supply. Unless you can ban imports, and hold most of the UK licences, including those for the existing fields in the North Sea, what would be the point?

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  • William

    Nick,<br /><br />I saw Ed Davey on the Sunday Politics today, regurgitation what was in the Independent. Andrew Neil gave him a hard time but Ed was in sweep it under the carpet mode, there is a clear agenda to ensure the Gas Price stays high so that there pet Wind projects seem economic. <br /><br />He tried to make out the ground rumbles where an issue, but when it was pointed out that coal mining in this country produced similar or worse rumbles - tried to hint that this had caused big problems.<br /><br />IMHO - the only way forward is to try and get someone elected in Kingston and Surbiton at the next election, starting now with a Get The Facts campaign if we can convince his electorate. I will help with leaflets and canvassing.<br /><br />Regards,<br />William

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  • I'd have to move 5 meters to get into Kingston and Surbiton, so I can only run against Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, so be a re-districting, I can't do it. <br />Zac's got more money than me.<br />Interestingly, despite the importance given the Ecologist Film Unit video on Frack Off and the Guardian, Zac G told me he thinks shale and gas can be an important bridge to renewables, one of my views all along. He said he isn't responsible for the content at The Ecologist, he only pays the bills!

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  • David S

    I think Striebs has a point here - it seems that for all the tripe talked about supporting small and entrepreneurial businesses, governments of both stripes are starstruck by big ones, and bamboozled by lobbyists and troughers. It would not surprise me at all to see the big companies with an interest in doing the least work for the most money, keeping oil prices and margins high for their core product and farming vast subsidies in their "renewables" activities, get the inside track with gullible ministers.

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  • What Liberal Democrat is going to want to be seen supporting the oil and gas industries against renewables and FotE etc?<br /><br />So how can they support shale gas?

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  • "It's natural to trust multi-nationals"<br /><br />Uh? Did you REALLY mean to write that? One thing we DO know about multi-nationals is that they are not to be trusted for a minute. And that they will avoid paying taxes if possible.

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  • philip

    We can talk as much as we wish to.But it's "all hot air" really.Is there anything concrete that can be done to correct this? THE company involved in this project was not invited,totally false claims were made,then the product was 'fed' to one willing organ to spew out what look to me like 100% lies.<br /><br />Do you know I would not frankly care a fig if I did not think that this was of critical importance to the future of UK Plc. I really do. Yes it frightens me when we charge the consumer billions for erecting windmills that don't work when the cold winter anticyclonic weather arrives, and yes selling off one of the Worlds leading construction companies of Nuclear power plants to Japan only to then ask the French to build them for you later is equally bizarre.<br /><br />But this. This is in a different league.This is a UK natural resource.It appears that it might be giantic, similar to the N Sea oil that bailed out Mrs T in the 80's. We are bust,we have no money for 'growth', and our people are being forced to choose between food or fuel. This find could answer both aspects.<br /><br />It is too important to just talk about. Well for me anyway.If someone wants to develop a real action plan well then fine I will do what I can to help.Othewrwise I have a company to run.

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  • Tim Melville

    The bilderbergers that run whats left of what was once Britian have two main priorities a.Their euro project and b.Their new world order (NWO). Britain being able to do anything for itself is not only not in their intrests but they are fundamentaly against it as it runs contrary to everything they stand for. Contributors have aluded to it above but the list, catalogue, of betrayel committed against Britain and her peoples by her quisling bilderberg elite is monumental and only the most blinkered can fail to see that they must be working to another agenda that they'd prefer the masses not to know about. Whether its contracts for wheelie bins going to Germany when they can be made cheaper here in the U.K. or orders for Royal Navy oil tankers going to Korea, awarding wind turbine contracts to anybody anywhere while wind turbine manufacturers here in the U,K. close or procuring military vehicles from Austria and Sweden while manufacturesrs of military vehicles here close the tale of woe is the same: Foreign first British always but always last if our quisling rulers have anything to do with it or they can possibly make it so. Whats the truth about fracking? i don't know but you can bet your house on it that if our quisling rulers have anything to do with it Britain will NOT be top of their list of considerations. Unless they can ofcourse betray her as usual.

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  • Tim, just for the record, although we may agree on shale, I don't see much room for agreement on anything else.<br />Number one is Europe: Give me Francois Hollande over UKIP anytime. If the UK left the EU, I'll be on the first state subsidised yet high tech and affordable Eurostar out.<br />I have a great amount of respect for Britain's imperial past, but absolutely no desire to live in it!

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