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The energy transformation of the 21st century has been the de-risking of the sub-surface geology of shale gas. But above ground risk has developed into the key issue which can delay or even derail shale gas projects worldwide.
Everyone agrees that Public Acceptance is the greatest obstacle to Shale development Worldwide.But what can we do about it?
“Public education, community engagement, even media engagement are themes that seem to be growing around this to make sure that we’re not maybe repeating the same thing we saw in the oilsands, where everybody seemed to have their own sets of facts ... causing confusion ultimately to the general public,” said Andy Ridge, the water policy director for Alberta Environment and Water. “So how do we get ahead of that on hydraulic fracturing?” Edmonton Journal
A groundswell of public opposition to shale gas drilling in Europe, driven by legitimate environmental concerns, is a major problem for what could prove to be a very important industry, said the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol.
“Let’s be honest, as an industry, we have not always done our best to engage in the public debates about these issues,” Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, said on Wednesday at a speech during a major energy conference here. “This has resulted in some misconceptions taking root, especially about the impact of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’”
No Hot Air engages the public in the virtual world delivering a consistent, clear and hopeful view of shale issues. We try to cut through the information chaos which often overwhelms people. We provide not only facts, news and context but also opinion:
- Our opinions differ from opponents in two key ways
- Our opinions are based on facts
- Our opinions leads us to hope instead of fear.
- We always use facts, but also use context.This provides a clear way to engage in public debate.
The Track Record & Players
No Hot Air has been active in publicising and promoting shale for over 4 years. Both Petroleum Economist and BBC TV’s primetime Newsnight program have described us as a shale gas evangelist. Like the evangelists of old, we preach a better world is coming to an audience that has been told the exact opposite. Some of that audience will never be convinced - simply because they don’t wish to be. Shale disrupts world views and businesses alike. But NHA feels the majority, most of whom have never heard of shale, will be receptive to good news on both the environment and the economy. It’s our job to reinforce this positive message.
We feel the industry has spent too much time in a technical response to emotional issues. We think instead of concentrating on lowering fears, we need to raise hopes.
This positive message, always based on facts in context, is what we do. Public perception issues in Europe stem from both a public unfamiliar with onshore oil and gas realityand onshore gas drillers unused to engaging with those fears.
The public has been told for the past thirty years to trust their own feelings - not government, not scientists (Genetically Modified Food, MMR being two examples) experts, bankers,priests not anyone! The inevitable contradictions of the data in science mean a barrage of opposing arguments in both climate change and shale gas that can easily leave people more confused than informed.
We are not helped by a press relentless in looking for a story that is simple while not being shy in creating controversy by exaggerating the spectacular (flames, chemicals, earthquakes etc) over the boring, but necessary facts of production. The shale story is a complex web of geology, chemistry, economics, seismology, politics and energy. I think it is the most exciting story of the era and we are lucky to be present at the creation. But science is complex, and fears can sometimes only be addressed via complex and often long winded explanations. Much news today is entertainment, so the reality of shale science has trouble piercing this bubble. We need to build a new narrative. Our narrative.
The rapid emergence of shale gas has contributed to confusion. Only a few years ago people were asked to believe energy was running out and the future would be one of how to keep the lights on. Today it is the complete opposite, but people have been told bad news for so long they mistrust good news. Certainly on both the economy and the environment, news has been relentlessly depressing and people are understandably cautious the narrative won't switch around again.
NHA says that a few localised incidents have not only been too highly publicised, but at the same time, the overall benefits of shale aren't being presented. Shale gas is not perfect, but it is not perfectly evil. It can't solve 2050 carbon targets, but it can help us reach the near term 2020 and 2030 ones far quicker and far cheaper compared to alternate generation technology. It can do this by having safe, secure and proven technology, with little investment needed in infrastructure.
One of our core arguments in a Europe facing decades of austerity is that importing energy is exporting money. Using our common natural gas and oil resources is the smart, sane and easy alternative. Pretending that renewables are just around the corner is simply not correct, no matter how much we would like it to be so. That leaves spending money we don't have on the alternatives to carbon generation.
No Hot Air needs your support to continue their work. It’s good for the industry and that’s good for you. But No Hot Air also has a wide international audience of shale gas professionals, government regulators and financial specialists. Our audience is small, but influential and consistently growing. Supporting No Hot Air also has tangible benefits for your business in building brand awareness and revealing new products in a rapidly evolving industry.
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