Articles from 2012
Misinformation on UK Shale at highest levels
- Written by Nick Grealy
- Published: 20 May 2012
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.