Articles from 2012
The end of shale gas?
- Published Date
- Written by Nick Grealy
Something signficant - and very alarming- happened this week in the UK which needs to wake up the European natural gas industry.
Climate change protesters have set up a camp inside the chimney of a Nottinghamshire power station and say they intend to stay there for a week.
Five women from the group No Dash For Gas were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after they made their way into the West Burton site.
This isn't a shale gas protest: This a protest against natural gas:
The stand-off between climate change protesters perched high on two power station chimneys and police encircling the plant below is continuing in spite of high winds.
Clinging to metal railings near the top of the 91m (300ft) water cooling tower at EDF's new gas-fired power station at West Burton in Nottingamshire, the group said that they were concentrating on stopping their tarpaulin shelter from blowing away.
After tweeting a dawn picture of the second occupied chimney with the River Trent winding behind, they linked the fierce gusts to Wednesday's political row over wind power, suggesting that the huge West Burton complex would be "an ideal site for a windfarm."
Ewa Jasiewicz, one of 11 people occupying the plant's central chimney, said: "It's really seriously windy up here and we're really seriously upset by this nonsense today about stopping windfarms. People often say that this country is the 'Saudi Arabia of wind power' and it's unforgivable that the Conservative side of the coalition seems to be going against that. It's completely out of step with all thinking on cutting carbon and using sustainable power."
Meanwhile they suffer from a serious delusion that they are actually doing something good:
The group said: "The occupiers have so far prevented 2,371 tonnes of CO2 emissions a day by shutting down the one working chimney. This is equivalent to the energy that an average home uses for 182 years, or taking 465 cars off the road for a year. As the human and economic costs of hurricane Sandy become clearer, the need to take action on climate change and avoid many more instances of such extreme weather-related disasters has never been more pressing."
What they have actually achieved is the emission of an extra 2,371 tonnes by displacing the generation to coal. I also can only hope that they did at least turn off the lights and switch off the heating in their empty homes.
This highlights what needs to be done in Europe. In the US the natural gas industry is aligned from the drill tip to the burner tip. US producers, distributors, retailers and end users agree: cheap gas is cheap gas wherever it comes from. But in Europe we have confusion in the gas industry as to how to treat shale gas. Shale is seen as unconventional. Shale disrupts the shortage scenario constructed by the likes of Gazprom and Centrica and in the middle we have the Shell's and Statoil's who make good money on European oil linked gas as they go headlong into shale everywhere else between Texas and China.
Shale gas is simply natural gas. As the century progresses, it won't even be unconventional: it will be by far the dominant method of production in China by the 2020's for example. South African and Argentinian shale gas will be produced in countries with almost no conventional natural gas production.
Here in the UK, we can see shale gas production far exceeding any current onshore production. As the North Sea declines, shale could conceivably out produce offshore "conventional" supply by the 2020's.
Shale gas is natural gas. The twits on top of the tower need to get over worrying about natural gas. But the guys in the towers of Canary Wharf need to see that shale gas is here, and it's here to stay. It's new name is what it always was: just plain natural gas. Those who fight against shale, fight against them.