What is - and is not - happening at the Horse Hill farm site only 20 miles from the southern outskirts of London is remarkable. On one hand, we have what genuinely can be described as significant - and even game changing - amount of oil. So congratulations are in order for the UKOG team for quietly, literally under Gatwick Airport’s radar, producing some actual hydrocarbons.

The Horse Hill success is even more material for the rest of the UK onshore oil and gas industry, a sector starved of good news - or indeed any news at all - from what DIDN’T happen.


rodney dangerfieldEd Davey is the Rodney Dangerfield of British shale gas. He don’t get no respect. As one of the most powerful Liberal Democrats in the cabinet, he gets an inundation of abuse from Conservative bitter enders who still don’t get the difference between getting the most seats in the 2010 election, and not actually winning the election. Being a Lib Dem and the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the right wing narrative is one of a Brussels stooge out to destroy the shale industry. 

Therefore. any positive statements he makes on shale gas can be conveniently ignored.  

The Green narrative (no longer-left BTW), is one where he has to pay lip service to his Conservative partners, especially Chancellor Osborne. He’s secretly one of ours seems to be the message. 

Therefore. any positive statements he makes on shale gas can be conveniently ignored.

Ukraina Hotel Moscow Russia MoscowOne of my stranger speaker invitations recently was earlier this month in Moscow to an Adam Smith conference on Russia EOR (enhanced oil recovery), where I found myself in the ironic position of giving a presentation to reassure the audience that fracking,for oil was safe.

Fracking is fracking and there is little or no difference between the methods used for gas or oil. Oil fracking in it’s modern form of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing using less chemicals than before was introduced by Harold Hamm in the North Dakota Bakken about ten years ago and the impact on US oil is now well known. The Bakken turned around the idea that US oil had peaked, and the technology rippled out to the Eagle Ford, Permian and Niobrara formations. One of the nails in the Peak Oil coffin has been the realisation by even the conventional wisdom this year that shale oil can go international. It’s already happening in Argentina, Australia and China, but the big prize is in Russia’s Bazhenov shale in Western Siberia.


complaintsThey say things often end with a whimper, not a bang, but the UK shale debate seems to be ending not with a bang, or a drought, or an earthquake, but with a whinge.

Has it really come to this? I share the big picture issues with Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth over the climate and shale, even when I think they overstate environmental concerns. But surely they must be disappointed that according to the majority of reporting on the UK Strategic Environmental Assessment of Shale, the vital big global picture is ignored by petty concerns that are literally pedestrian: