Our digest of last month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments from the UK and around the world.
- Ineos plans to give 6% of gross profits to landowners and communities
- Government to allow underground drilling without consent – despite 99%+ opposition to consultation
- Environment Agency investigates smell at West Newton drilling site
- 20,000 objections, including Fylde Borough Council, to Cuadrilla’s applications to drill near Blackpool
- Manchester University study suggests shale gas is greener energy on some counts than renewables
- South Downs National Park refuses Celtique Energie permission to drill at Fernhurst
- Well integrity failures contaminate water – US study
- Water shortages could hinder fracking for shale oil and gas – World Resources Institute report
And much more.
30th September 2014
“Local communities need to be bribed to accept fracking” Utility Week reports Tim Yeo, chair of the energy and climate change select committee, told a fringe meeting of the Conservative Party Conference that local communities will need to be bribed to accept fracking. The magazine reports he said: “It’s a perfectly safe technology and communities are very fearful and we need, frankly, to bribe them into getting one or two going and then that fear would be removed.”
First South Wales shale gas plan refuse Members of Neath Port Talbot planning committee reject the advice of officers and refuse permission for an exploratory shale gas borehole in Foel fynyddau near Pontrhydyfen, the South Wales Evening Post reports. The grounds for refusal were noise and local echo issues in the Pelenna Valley. This was the first proposal to test for shale gas in South Wales, the paper says. There are currently five applications for coal bed methane operations.
Demand picking up for fracking licences UK energy minister, Matt Hancock, tells Reuters that the current onshore oil and gas licensing round is attracting solid interest from investors. “I’m confident that it will be successful,” he said. “There’s clearly more and more big companies coming into this space with the resources they bring with them, and I warmly welcome that.”
Tamboran licence terminated BBC Northern Ireland reports that Tamboran’s licence to explore for shale gas in County Fermanagh has been terminated because it has missed its drill or drop deadline. The BBC says the Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, gave the company a six-month extension until 30th September but would not grant another because she did not believe Tamboran could complete its work plan. In August, the company was refused permission for an exploratory well at a quarry near Belcoo. It has said it will seek a judicial review of that decision. Belfast Telegraph and Fermanagh Herald
No environmental assessments at gas drill sites The Chester Chronicle reports that Cheshire West and Chester Council didn’t ask for environmental impact assessments before granting consent to IGas for coal bed methane drilling at Ince Marshes and Ellesmere Port, near homes, a nuclear facility and oil refinery. Campaigner Matt Bryan tells the paper: “CWaC stated that this was the British Geological Survey’s responsibility to enforce, while the British Geological Survey has confirmed in writing that this would be CWaC’s. This is just one example of the regulatory muddle.”
Swinney pledge to reverse fracking plans Scotland’s Finance Secretary, John Swinney, is reported by the Courier and the Herald as saying plans to allow fracking companies to drill under land without the owner’s permission would be reversed if Scotland is given increased powers over oil and gas drilling.
IGas-Dart deal clears Queensland court The Supreme Court of Queensland has approved the proposed acquisition of Dart Energy by IGas, the companies announce. Alliance News says IGas shares were down 1.3% to 89.313 pence.
Anti-fracking protest outside London shale summit Campaigners lobby the European Shale Gas and Oil Summit. More details
Denton sued over fracking moratorium CBS reports a group of mineral royalty owners has sued the city of Denton over its temporary ban on fracking, claiming the ban violates their property rights.
To frack or not to frack? The Engineer puts questions to Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla; Laura Grant, policy adviser at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management; and Dr Anthony Ingraffea, professor of engineering at Cornell University and the oil and gas team at Mott MacDonald.
Exxon defends fracking risks to shareholders Exxon Mobil has issued a report that acknowledges the environmental risks of fracking but defends the practice as being better for the environment than other forms of energy generation, says ABC News. Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, tells ABC the report falls far short of the specific data she and others had been calling for.
29th September 2014
Royalty scheme for shale landowners Ineos offers 4% of gross revenues of to landowners of shale sites and 2% to communities. Country Land and Business Association says it doesn’t address concerns about liability. Greenpeace describes plans as bribery. Our story
IGas warning on royalty scheme IGas chief executive, Andrew Austin, tells the ESGOS conference payments could prove harmful in perpetuating the suspicion that there is something “wrong” with shale gas. More details and what conference delegates were tweeting
“We must unlock shale” The Chancellor, George Osborne, tells the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham: “We will tap the shale gas, commission nuclear power and renewables, and guarantee our energy for the future.” In a later part of his speech, he says: “We must unlock the shale wealth beneath our feet.” Full speech Energy Live News report
US emissions from fossil fuels rise after long-term decline Business Green quotes figures from the US Energy Information Administration which show CO2 emissions from fossil fuels for the first half of 2014 were 2.74% higher than the same period in 2013 and almost 6% higher than the first six months of 2012. CO2 emissions from coal were more than 12% up in the first six months of 2014, compared with the same time in 2012. Emissions from natural gas rose 7.3% and petroleum 0.8%.
US overtaking Saudi Arabia as world’s largest liquid petroleum producer The FT quotes the International Energy Agency as saying the two countries were equal in June and August in producing about 11.5m barrels a day. US production, the FT says, is expected to exceed Saudi Arabia this month or next for the first time since 1991.
Rising shale output disrupts US gas prices The FT also reports on a new westbound flow of gas from the NE US to the Rockies. It says pipeline companies are scrambling to keep up with breakthroughs in shale gas drilling, with the strongest growth in the north east states. Spot gas prices in Pennsylvania have fallen 60% in the past six months.
Life-cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from Scottish fracking A report by Climate Exchange for the Scottish Government predicts the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy from unconventional gas extraction in Scotland are likely to be equivalent to those for conventional gas extraction in Europe – if best practice is followed and building on peat is avoided. It says methane could escape when boreholes are being prepared for gas production or while being serviced, or as fugitive emissions from valves and pipes. Building on peat releases carbon when soil is removed or drained. Non-technical summary
Opposition steps up campaign against drilling at Horse Hill near Horley in Surrey More details
September 28th 2014
Lord Browne promise to Lancashire business The Lancashire Evening Post reports a promise by Cuadrilla chairman, Lord Browne, to work with the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce to ensure that businesses will benefit from opportunities of shale gas. He emphasised the importance of “working together to ensure that Lancashire reaps the rewards of this new industry”.
Who picks up the pieces if fracking causes damage? Farming UK interviews the Country Landowners Association president, Henry Robinson, on government plans to give drillers underground access without consent. He says: “It is greatly concerning that there continues to be a lack of information from the Government regarding long term liability. No assurances have been given to land and property owners that they are fully protected from losses or claims for damages should issues arise”.
September 26th 2014
Fracking puppet greets UKIP conference The Star in South Yorkshire reports that delegates to the UKIP conference in Doncaster will be greeted by a tongue-in-cheek 15ft puppet, operated by Friends of the Earth, who will tell them “fracking is on the way forward for the UK” and he is “looking forward to fracking the desolate North”.
Fracking wastewater treatments leave harmful materials Fracking News Today reports a study in Environmental Science and Technology which suggests contaminants from fracking fluid wastewater are too much for most treatment plants to handle. The study suggests treatment may allow potentially harmful chemicals to end up in downstream drinking water.
East Yorkshire anti-fracking campaigners acquitted Three anti-fracking campaigners accused of obstructing the highway outside Rathlin Energy’s exploratory drilling site at West Newton in East Yorkshire are found not guilty at Beverley Magistrates Court, reports Frack Free East Yorkshire
September 25th 2014
IGas/Dart merger to go ahead before approval of Competitions and Markets Authority. More details
Date set for West Sussex Council Frack Free Zone debate Our story
Campaigners report renewed odours Anti-drilling campaigners at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton gas exploration site report renewed fumes and odours.
Green Party motion to ban fracking The Green Party submits a motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly for an immediate half to unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction. More details
GPs take fracking health concerns to Stormont The Impartial Reporter says two doctors from Fermanagh are to present their concerns about fracking to the Northern Ireland assembly on Tuesday. Dr Geralyn McCarroon, now working in Australia, and Dr Caroll O’Donlan, a GP in Blacklion, will present a report on the impact of the unconventional gas industry on public health. The event will be live streamed on Twitter.
Risks of mining fracking sands The Los Angeles Times reports on a study about the risks to communities of mining for fracking sand. A study by the Civil Society Institute’s Boston Action Research raises concerns about: 420,000-2m gallons of water a day needed to process sand; chemicals added to remove impurities; silica dust and its potential damage to lungs and risk to autoimmune diseases; loss of real estate values.
No end to fracking boom Forbes reports that the US oil and gas boom shows no signs of slowing down. Dan Pickering, of investment banking firm Tudor, Picking and Holt, tells Forbes the shale drilling revolution will continue to be “the next big thing” for another 20 years.
September 24th 2014
UK investing in lower carbon energy, including shale gas, says Cameron The UK Prime Minister’s speech at the UN summit on climate change did not, as predicted by some papers, call for shale gas to be part of the climate change solution. He did say his government had kept to its promise to be the greenest government ever. He referred to increased renewable electricity generation, the green investment bank, investment in carbon capture and storage. The only reference to shale was: “We are investing in all forms of lower carbon energy including shale gas and nuclear, with the first new nuclear plant coming on stream for a generation. He did, as expected, call for “a framework built on green growth not green tape”. Click here for full text.
Fact check on Manchester University study The Guardian does an eco-audit on the Manchester University study which found on some measures fracking is less environmentally damaging than renewable energy sources. Study co-author Laurence Stamford tells the Guardian that the Times report was misleading, particularly the headline, “greener than solar panels”. “That makes it look like we are saying that solar panels are all around worse than shale gas, which… is not really what we’ve said. We are certainly not trying to say that shale gas is greener than renewables.”
Thousands sign up for protest against fracking The Garstang Courier reports that another 3,000 objection letters have been handed to Lancashire County Council about Cuadrilla’s plans to test for gas at two sites on the Fylde. Campaigners say this brings total responses to 20,000.
September 23rd 2014
Shale gas part of the climate change solution, says Cameron The Telegraph reports that David Cameron is expected to use his speech to the UN summit on climate change to argue that shale gas can be part of the solution to global warming and must not be restricted by “green tape”. The paper says Mr Cameron is likely to argue that countries should be allowed to choose their own path to going green and not subject to targets that require the use of specific technologies, such as renewable energy. They should be free to pursue technologies, such as shale gas.
How climate friendly is fracking? Greenpeace reviews the evidence about methane emissions from shale gas. The Manchester University study (see Sept 22nd) using evidence from pre 2013 suggests shale gas has a similar carbon footprint to conventional gas. But since then, Greenpeace says, evidence has changed. The IPCC revised up the global warming potential of methane from 25 to 34 if climate carbon feedbacks are included. UN analysis of methane’s ability to trap heat increased by 40% last year and new studies suggest we know less than we thought we did about if and how methane leaks from the fracking process.
Absolute discharges for four anti-fracking campaigners The Salford Star reports that four anti-fracking campaigners who took part in a picnic lock-on outside the IGas site at Barton Moss in February have been found guilty of obstruction but were given absolute discharges with no fines or costs. Another campaigner arrested that day but not involved in the lock-on was found not guilty. The lock-on happened during a visit to the blockade by the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett.
Lancashire approves Cuadrilla planning extensions Lancashire County Council has approved extensions of Cuadrilla’s planning permission for sites at Becconsall near Banks (three years) and Weeton near Kirkham (one year). John Powney, of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, described the decision as disappointing.
EA examines new procedures at West Newton drill site The Environment Agency says it is examining new procedures by Rathlin Energy at its test drilling site at West Newton in east Yorkshire after residents complained of a smell last week. More details
Energy minister dismisses fears about fracking Matthew Hancock dismissed concerns about the impact of fracking on health, water, climate change and local businesses in replies to questions from Talk Fracking Our story
Statoil joins climate partnership CEO Helge Lund announces Statoil has joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Oil and Gas Partnership. This commits Statoil to transparency about methane emissions and to produce a roadmap for reducing them. Lund advocates a carbon price to “drive operational efficiency and technological innovation”. Press statement
500,000 jobs in US shale supply chain A study by IHS reports there were 524,000 jobs in unconventional oil and gas supply chain industries in the US in 2012. The authors expect this number to grow by 45% to 747,000 in 2025, to become 41% of employment support by the industry.
Pro-fracker for European Council head ENDS Report says the European Council has chosen a supporter of fracking and coal as its new president. Donald Tusk, the current Polish prime minister, will take up his position on December 1st.
September 22nd 2014
Fracking can be greener than solar power, Labour told. Click Green reports on a meeting at the Labour Party Conference addressed by Professor Adisa Azapagic, the lead author of research by Manchester University which looked at the environmental impacts of shale gas exploitation in the UK. The study suggested that shale gas had comparable emissions and life-cycle environmental impacts as conventional gas. On four out of 11 impacts, shale gas was found to be better than offshore wind and solar. It was also better than solar for ozone layer depletion and eutrophication. Shale was worse than coal for ozone layer depletion, summer smog and terrestrial ecotoxicity. Professor Azapagic said: “Some of the impacts of solar power are actually relatively high, so it is not a complete surprise that shale gas is better in a few cases. This is mainly because manufacturing solar panels is very energy and resource-intensive, while their electrical output is quite low in a country like the UK, as we don’t have as much sunshine. The meeting was also covered by The Times and International Business Times
Labour MP opposes fracking The Salford Star reports that Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South, Barbara Keeley, opposed fracking, despite the party’s support for the process. She told last night’s Fracking’s Not The Future event on the Labour Party Conference fringe exploratory drilling by IGas at Barton Moss in 2013 had caused problems for local communities and businesses, and the environment. She said: “I will oppose any application which sought to start using hydraulic fracturing in Irlam or other local areas where I felt the process would not be safe or would bring detrimental impacts on quality of life for local people”
Conference picket planned The Salford Star also reports anti-fracking campaigners are expected to picket the Fracking North conference at The Lowry Centre on Friday September 26th.
Total Chinese emissions outstrip soar EU and US The FT reports that China is for the first time emitting more carbon pollution per person than the EU. Total Chinese CO2 emissions are higher than the EU and US combined, accounting for 28% of global emissions.
Rockefellers join anti-fossil fuel drive The FT reports that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has announced plans to cut its oil and coal investments. The Fund said it would sell its investments in the coal and Canadian oil sands industries and review its remaining fossil fuel holdings for possible sale in one or two years, the FT reports.
Energy companies sign pact to cut methane emissions The Wall Street Journal reports that six international energy companies have agreed to work to reduce emissions of methane through a new UN framework. The companies include Britain’s BG Group, Italy’s ENI SpA, Mexico’s Pemex, Thailand’s PTT PCL, Statoil of Norway and Southwestern Energy of the US.
Anti-frackers take campaign to Horse Hill Frack Free Sussex reports that a few anti-fracking campaigners erected a temporary banner a few hundred metres from the Horse Hill drill site near Horley in Surrey. “The support from passing motorists was amazing”, the group said, “With lots of local people stopping off to find out what was happening just up the road”.
September 21st 2014
US shale gas exports hit Gazprom The FT reports the findings of the Center for Global Energy Policy that Russia’s Gazprom could lose 18% of its revenues following liquefied gas exports from the US. The research suggests the impact on Russia’s total export revenues is likely to be modest and US gas exports are unlikely to force policy change from the Kremlin. US LNG exports, expected to start in 2015, could eventually exceed the 14.5bn cubic feet per day that Russia exports to the EU, the FT says. Link to the full report
Time to embrace natural gas Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy, tells Your Houston News abandoning all fossil fuels is not a realistic strategy for reducing carbon pollution. Any short term plan for cutting emissions has to include natural gas.
September 20th 2014
Rising gas flaring in Texas The Ecologist reports on increased burning of gas in the Eagle Ford shale oil field in Texas. The article quotes research by the San Antonia Express which says Texas has failed to track or control flaring adequately. Flared or vented gas volumes reached 33 billion cubic feet in 2012, a 400% increase on 2009 when the shale oil rush started. Airborne pollution rose from 427 tons/year “in the early days” to 15,453 tons in 2012. Texas has just seven air monitoring stations in the region and it can take regulators up to 10 days to take samples after complaints.
Shares in fracking sand company soar The Wall Street Journal reports that shares in Emerge Energy Service, which supplies sand to fracking operators, soared from under $20 to $144 early this month, falling back slightly to $125. The WSJ says fracking companies are expected to use nearly 95 billion pounds of sand this year, up nearly 30% on 2013.
Dart report dismisses drilling concerns A report by Dart Energy dismisses concerns by Frack-Free Dudleston in Shropshire about its plans for an exploratory borehole, according to the Shropshire Star. The company says the group’s fears are based on “a misunderstanding of the proposals”. Dart said it would not be fracking for shale gas at the site near Ellesmere, but looking for coal bed methane. FFD said some of the points in the report were inaccurate. A decision had been due this month but has been delayed to later in the year.
September 19th 2014
Rathlin Energy instructed to stop smell The Environment Agency tells Rathlin Energy to find and fix the smell coming from its exploratory drilling site at West Newton in East Yorkshire. More details
Drilling plans in Leicestershire The Telegraph diary reports that Celtique Energie is part of a partnership which announced yesterday drilling would begin at Burton on the Wolds in Leicestershire by mid-October. Egdon, the lead company for the operation, said fracking would not be involved. Egdon’s Neil O’Brien, suggested there would be less opposition to fracking in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire because of the areas’ coal mining past.
3,000 more objections to Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking plans The Lancashire Evening Post reports that Frack Free Lancashire is handing in a further 3,000 letters to the County Council objecting to Cuadrilla’s planning applications to frack for shale gas in the Fylde. The group says this brings its objections to more than 8,000 and the total received by the council to 20,000. Ebony Ava Johnson of Frack Free Lancashire said: ““Lancashire residents are saying loud and clear that Cuadrilla has no social licence to operate here.“
Fracking targets in the Ribble Valley? Muriel Lord, of Longridge Against Fracking, writes in the Longridge and Ribble Valley News, says the countryside around Ribchester, Knowle Green, Hurst Green, Salesbury, Mellor Brook and southwards to Blackburn are a likely target for shale gas exploration.
Free, clean energy on the way Vivek Wadhwa, of the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, reports on estimates by futurist Ray Kursweil who predicts that inexpensive renewables will provide more energy that the world needs in less than 20 years. Writing in the Washington Post, he says the implications include the disruption of the entire fossil fuel industry.
New oil discovery in Oklahoma Shale Energy Insider reports that Continental Resources has made a new oil discovery in the Spring Shale, in south central Oklahoma. The company’s estimated ultimate recovery for the field is 940 M barrels of oil equivalent, with 67% oil and 17% gas.
US silica sees sand demand piling up as fracking goes super-sized Reuters reports on predictions that demand for sand could triple over the next five years as more oil and gas is extracted using fracking. “We are seeing customers that are using 10,000 tons of sand for one well, and just to put it in perspective, that’s a mile long train of sand, to just frac one well,” Chief Executive Bryan Shinn told Reuters.
September 18th 2014
Last chance to comment Greenpeace offers guidance to people who want to comment on Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Roseacre Wood in Fylde. The consultation by Lancashire County Council closes tomorrow (September 19th 2014)
US solar and wind outshine gas – report The FT reports research by the investment bank, Lazard, that large wind farms and solar plants are now cost-competitive with gas fired power in many parts of the US, even without subsidy. The banks says costs have fallen and efficiency has risen for solar panels and wind turbines to the point that in areas of strong wind or sunshine they can provide electricity more cheaply than fossil fuel plants.
Increased estimates for Oklahoma field The FT reports the announcement by Continental Resources of what it expects to be a large new oil-producing area in Oklahoma. It predicted 3.6bn barrels equivalent of recoverable oil and gas in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Play, more than four times 2012 estimates. But the paper says the company worried investors with projections of more expensive production techniques in the Bakken formation, rising from $8m in 2013 to $10m in future.
Hidden leaks from Pennsylvania’s abandoned wells The Guardian reports on people who spend their spare time hunting for some of the estimated 200,000 abandoned wells in Pennsylvania. The feature says the wells are posing an increasing threat as possible pathways for gas released by newer fracking techniques. Since 2007, the state has issued nearly 45,000 new well permits, about a third of which are unconventional wells.
Fracking to cut coal use in China? The Guardian caries a piece by the Mother Jones website which asks will China’s great fracking leap help it wean off coal. The long-form article quotes estimates from the US Energy Information Administration which suggest natural gas will meet only 8% of demand in China in 2040. It raises concern about methane pollution and water use. It also includes interviews with villagers near fracking sites where water has run dry and is unusable for cooking.
Record fine for fracking waste company Mail Online reports that the energy company Range Resources has agreed to pay a $4.15 million fine – the biggest ever imposed on the shale gas industry – after flowback waste leaked from open pits at one of the company’s waste handling sites in western Pennsylvania. The company said it was “deeply disappointed the violations had occurred. The Environmental Protection department said the agreement “establishes a new, higher benchmark for companies”.
Chevron adopts new shale standards The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Chevron has become the first company to complete a set of voluntary performance standards for air and water issues in shale development. The 15 standards will be applied in the Marcellus and Utica shale areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and are designed to go beyond existing regulations, the paper says.
Gore sceptical about US fracking boom Al Gore tells Climate Desk he is opposed to the use of natural gas as a bridge fuel until and unless methane leaks can be stopped at every stage of the process “particularly during fracking. He says the increasing cost-effectiveness of solar and wind power are already posing a threat to the viability of natural gas as source of energy in the market place.
September 17th 2014
Fylde Council objects to Cuadrilla plans Fylde Borough Council’s planning committee followed recommendations and voted to object to both Cuadrilla’s planning application for exploratory drilling at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. Our story. Reaction from Residents Action Against Fylde Fracking. Report in the Blackpool Gazette Detailed report in counterbalance.org
Give gas a chance A Preston businessman tells the Lancashire Evening Post shale gas should be given the go-ahead in Lancashire. Lee Potts, of Remsol (a consultancy that has worked for Cuadrilla on wastewater treatment), says exploiting Lancashire’s shale gas resources could stimulate the economy and help reduce CO2 emissions compared with coal. He likens shale exploration with tests on a new medicine. He says exploratory drilling will: give a better idea of how much gas is in the Bowland Basin; indicate its likely impact on the economy; and give Cuadrilla a chance to live up to its promises.
Fracking committee pledge in Liverpool The Liverpool Post reports that the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, has promised the regeneration team will meet to discuss concerns about fracking. A petition of 3,000 names was handed in to a council meeting and campaigners addressed councillors about their concerns. The mayor said the council could not ban fracking because this was outside its powers but the issue would be discussed by the regeneration select committee.
Anti-fracking camp set up The Chester Chronicle reports that anti-fracking campaigners have set up a camp at Ellesmere Port, in protest at what they believe is a potential fracking site off Merseyton Road. Cheshire West and Cheshire Council confirms it has begun legal processes to move the campaigners. IGas has planning permission for an exploratory borehole and has received a waste permit from the Environment Agency.
Debate call The Scunthorpe Telegraph reports a call by Northern Lincolnshire CPRE for a debate on fracking in the region. Local CPRE chair, David Rose, says there will be a debate in November as part of UKOOG’s Let’s Talk About Shale initiative.
Ruffalo calls for US ban on fracking The Guardian reports that actor and activist Mark Ruffalo is calling on President Obama to ban fracking and make the US the renewable energy capital of the world. He told the paper a ban would not mean taking an economic hit or losing jobs. “It means moving forward with clean energy, the power of the 21st century.
UK needs gas for 20 years IGas’s Andrew Austin tells This is Money “gas is part of the decarbonisation of the economy. We’re going to need gas in any model you look at during the next 20 years. If you can produce it directly next door to where you consume it, that’s going to have a much lower carbon footprint than importing it from Qatar or Russia.’
Scotland self-sufficient in shale gas On the eve of the referendum, Professor Mathew Humphrey of University of Nottingham, tells Shale Energy Insider “If it exploits its shale gas reserves Scotland could potentially be self-sufficient in gas for decades. This possibility raises a question, however – what do the Scots themselves think of the risks and rewards of exploiting shale?” But public perception researcher Professor Sarah O’Hara. She says “An independent Scottish government will have to work hard to change the mind of the country’s voters if it is to deliver on the promises that it has made to the Scottish people.”
Scottish licence sale Mel Kelly, writing in Our Kingdom, asks “Does the Westminster government have the right to even contemplate issuing fracking exploration licenses for the most densely populated area of Scotland, when it could result in plummeting house prices due to fracking’s suspected links to earthquakes, poisonous air and contaminated drinking water? ”
Mineral owners fight fracking bans Bloomberg reports that mineral owners left out of the energy boom in Colorado are mobilising to fight local fracking bans, which they say are depriving them of billions of dollars in oil and natural gas royalties.
Waste water injection caused earthquakes A report in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America finds deep injection of waste water from a coal bed methane field is responsible for most of the earthquakes in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The research points to increased seismicity in drilling areas shortly after major fluid injection began.
Questions over fracking support The Smoky Mountain News reports suggestions that a small group of people supporting fracking at a meeting on oil and gas regulations had been recruited by the American Petroleum Institute to boost pro-fracking numbers.
September 16th 2014
Home owners say fracking plans affecting house sales A report on the BBC’s Rip-off Britain programme interviews a couple in Roseacre, Lancashire, who have lost two buyers for their home because of Cuadrilla’s planning application to frack near the village. Another home owner tells the programme he had to sell his house at a loss. A statement from Cuadrilla said there were no proven health risks from fracking or evidence of house prices falling. DECC said fracking offered huge economic benefits to communities and there was no reason to expect house prices to fall. Programme available on BBC Iplayer for 16 days. The house prices item is also on YouTube.
US groups makes urgent case for fracking ban Food and Water Watch, a US-based non-profit organisation, calls for an urgent ban on fracking. In a new report, the group says fracking: produces massive volumes of toxic and radioactive waste; pumps hazardous pollutants into the air; destabilises the climate, disrupts local communities, contaminates water wells and causes thousands of accidents, leaks and spills.
2nd fracking ban in Leitrim The Irish Times reports that Leitrim county councillors voted for a second time to ban fracking in their development plan, despite a warning that the clause is illegal and could be overturned. The council’s chief executive said “The council has no express power to do this” and the clause could be removed by the Irish Environment Minister
Community concerns about unconventional gas and oil A report in Reviews on Environmental Health examined the information communities need when facing the prospect of fracking for gas. Interviewees with community leaders showed people had concerns about cumulative long-term effects on health. While academics were trusted, people wanted information to be communicated through many different channels. They also wanted information about how research was being carried 0ut and who was funding it.
Ban fracking call Left Foot Forward calls on all UK political parties to ban fracking and unconventional oil, coal and gas. The site argues that two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avoid climate chaos.
Fight to Supreme Court for Alberta woman The Penticton Herald reports that an Alberta woman plans to take her legal fight against a fracking company to the Canadian Supreme Court. Jessica Ernst claims gas wells fracked around her land in Calgary released methane, ethane and other chemicals into her water well. She took out a law suit against the province’s energy regulator, the energy company EnCana and the Alberta government. The Albert Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that she could not sue the energy regulator because it is immune from private claims. EnCana denies all her allegations.
Well failure always been a problem Chris Tomlinson in The Houston Chronicle writes that nearly every well ever drilled passes through a water table and if not constructed properly all can pollute drinking water. He calls for more quality control by Texas regulators and greater use of high technology tools by the industry. He also says environmentalists should stop blaming fracking for methane leaks.
Local government are fracking’s financial losers Frank Shafroth writing on the US website Government Technology writes that local areas are forced to deal with many of the problems associated with fracking, while states and federal government rake in the revenue.
Fracking review needs more time The Illinois committee reviewing fracking rules in the state says it wants another 45 days, reports the Chicago Tribune. The rules must be approved by the committee before fracking companies can apply for permits.
Will fracking cut UK coal use? Greenpeace examines the arguments that gas from fracking will replace coal in the UK’s energy mix. The organisation says UK shale gas is more likely to replace conventional or imported gas than coal because coal is currently so cheap. It also says there probably won’t be enough shale gas to full, or even partially, dislodge coal. And the timing isn’t right. The Poyry report didn’t expect shale gas to come on stream until 2035 but the Committee on Climate Change says coal needs to be phased out by the 202s.
September 15th 2014
Preparation for Broadford Bridge well Celtique Energie confirms work has started at its exploratory oil well at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst. Our story.
Shale investment – sweet spot or sink hole? Investing in shale has been sweet spots for some and sink holes for others, according to the FT. The paper says energy stocks are extremely volatile and represent opportunities and traps. It quotes Fadel Gehit, an energy analyst for Oppenheimer, who says “the easy money has been made”. But a report by Merrill Lynch says a huge amount of capital is needed. Leading private equity firms plan to more money into energy than any other sector, the paper says. Some investors believe the sweet spot in shale is in businesses that provide services to the exploration and production companies that are taking the risks.
Well integrity failure leads to water contamination The Dallas News reports on a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which says shale gas production has contaminated drinking water wells in the Barnett field in north Texas and the Marcellus field in Pennsylvania. It says gas in water wells appeared to have leaked from defective casing and cementing in gas wells or from gas formations not linked to zones where fracking took place. The papers quote the report’s authors as saying: “Our data do not suggest that horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing has provided a conduit to connect deep Marcellus or Barnett formations directly to surface aquifers”. Also reports in The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC
Yoko supports rally The Liverpool Echo reports that Yoko Ono has tweeted in support of tomorrow’s rally in the city when campaigners plan to deliver a 3,000+ signature petition to Liverpool City Council calling for a ban on fracking.
September 14th 2014
Fracking risks too great The Burnley Express prints a letter which warns the local council it will be infringing its strategic priorities, policies and plans if it allows fracking to take place in Pendle. David Penney tells the paper drill risked damaging the environment, endangering public health and increasing climate change.
Manchester call for fracking ban The Salford Star reports that the People’s Climate March in Manchester will lobby the Labour Party Conference on Sunday, calling for a ban on fracking, coal bed methane extraction and coal gasification. It will also urged Labour to vote against the Infrastructure Bill. The Star says Chris Faulkner, chief executive of Breitling Energy, is due to attend the conference.
September 13th 2014
Britain must be convinced on fracking Angela Knight, chief executive of the Energy Association, tells This is Money website the energy industry has failed to convince people that fracking is vital for Britain. Mrs Knight (who is leaving her job after two years) says the industry must continue to make its case or “risk energy shortages and dependence on expensive imported oil and gas”. She says: “We have to be honest with consumers about our long-term energy needs”.
Reject fracking bid, council urged The Lancashire Evening Post reports campaigners in the county are urging councillors to oppose fracking, following the rejection of Celtique Energie’s drilling application in the South Downs National Park. Lancashire County Council is expected to make a decision in November on Cuadrilla’s applications to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre.
First life cycle report on UK shale gas A report in Applied Energy by Manchester University does the first life cycle assessment of shale gas used in electricity generation. It finds that impacts of shale vary widely, depending on assumptions. It finds shale gas is comparable or superior to conventional gas and low carbon technologies for depletion of abiotic resources, eutrophication and freshwater, marine and human toxicity using the central estimate of global warming potential. It has a higher potential for photochemical smog and terrestrial toxicity than other option considered. For acidification, shale gas is better than coal but an order of magnitude worse than other options. It highlights the need for tight regulation and further analysis.
Rural crisis warning as frackers target Yorkshire The Yorkshire Post reports that rural campaigners have urged the government to consider the impact of fracking on the county’s £0.5 billion/year tourism economy. Chris France, planning director of the North York Moors National Park, said anything that had an impact on tourism had to be carefully considered. CPRE Craven warned of disruption to rural Yorkshire. The Malton and Thirsk MP, Anne McIntosh, said she would be raising the issue with DECC and DCLG.
DECC licences granted in Isle of Axholme The Star reports that Department for Energy and Climate Change has licensed eight sites in the Isle of Axholme in north Lincolnshire for shale gas exploration. The sites are: Cottage Farm and Eastoft Road, Crowle; Pasture Lane, Amcotts; Haldenby Hall, Luddington; Pilfrey Bridge, Althorpe; North Street, West Butterwick; Temple Gardens, Belton and Lodge Farm, Broughton. The Environment Agency tells the paper that it has issued a mining waste permit to Egdon Resources for just one site, Lodge Farm. Local MP Andrew Percy said: “These are only exploratory licenses and if they did lead to anything more substantial there would be a full planning application and consultation with residents.”
Enterprise Minister declines meeting The Fermanagh Herald reports that Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, has turned down an invitation from local councillors to discuss fracking in the county. But Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has said will send officials from his department to a meeting. Tamboran Resources has been refused permission to explore for shale gas at a disused quarry in Fermanagh.
Earthquakes risk and fracking The Motley Fool asks whether the risk of earthquakes associated with shale gas activities could derail the US oil and gas industry. It concludes that more studies are need.
September 12th 2014
Poland has 65 shale gas wells EurActive in its report on shale gas in Poland says there are 65 shale gas wells and drills in the country – more than any other European state. Poland plans 50 new wells every 12 months over the next few years. It has granted 82 concessions to prospect for unconventional hydrocarbons, 72 of them for shale gas.
Public misled over shale gas The Chester Chronicle reports claims by anti-fracking campaigners that the public has been misled because there was no mention of shale gas when Cheshire West and Chester Council gave permission for test drilling near Chester and Ellesmere Port. Permission was granted in 2010 to Nexen Exploration (now owned by IGas) to drill for coal bed methane at two sites. The paper says the council was told the average drilling depth for two bore holes at Ince Marshes would be 762m but in fact the company drilled to 1,469m and found shale. Test drilling near Ellesmere Port is due to begin this autumn and the company now describes Ellesmere Port as a shale licence area.
Guide to UK Shale Shale Energy Insider publishes what it calls the first independent and authoritative assessment of UK shale potential. It says the report will “prove an invaluable resource” for the 14th round of licences.
September 11th 2014
Celtique Energy application refused for Fernhurst South Opponents of drilling the South Downs National Park celebrate the refusal of Celtique Energie’s application for an exploratory oil well at Fernhurst. The company says it is being deliberately prevented from drilling in south east England and considers an appeal.
Key issues in the decision
Planning rules for National Parks
Energy Minister misused stationery The BBC reports that the Conservative Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, has been ordered to pay £1,674 after sending political letters to his West Suffolk constituency using pre-paid parliamentary stationery. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner upheld a complaint that this was a misuse of House of Commons facilities after a constituent accused Mr Hancock of “blatant campaigning”.
UK heavy industry needs shale Tom Crotty, a director of Ineos, tells Bloomberg: “If Europe doesn’t develop indigenous shale, then it will not have an energy-intensive industry in the next 20 years”. Ineos has bought a license to explore for gas around its refinery at Grangemouth.
Neil Young shale protest song Billboard reports Neil Young has posted a live recording of Who’s going to stand up, a new song protesting about destruction of the environment, including fracking.
Gazprom profits fall Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas producer, reported a 40 per cent drop in net profit in the first three months of the year, the FT reports. The paper says Gazprom has seen a $1.9bn rise in operating expenses as a result of a provision for an outstanding bill from Ukraine’s gas supplier.
IEA lowers oil demand forecast The FT reports the International Energy Agency has lowered its forecasts for demand for crude oil for 2014 and 2015. The revision follows a “remarkable” slowing in demand for crude oil during the second quarter because of weak economic growth in Europe and China.
Oil likely to attract investment Natural Gas Daily reports from a shale briefing where John Weston, of the consultancy Thaweg, told delegates: “If we look at onshore shale exploration in Europe, there would be areas where you could generate quite a lot of liquids, and that would make the economics much stronger [than for gas]”. He said: “If you look at the geology in the Weald Basin and up in the Bowland, it would be the liquids [rather than gas] that would encourage me to invest.” Trevor Sikorski, of Energy Aspects, predicted shale gas could account for around 1% of European demand by 2020. He said lack of rigs and a culture of onshore drilling meant shale gas would not be a “game changer”.
Leading companies to bid for UK licences An investigation by oilandgaspeople.com reveals that that Shell, Chevron, Statoil, Halliburton and Cuadrilla will bid for licences in Scotland to explore for shale gas and coal bed methane.
40% no opinion on fracking – poll The Guardian reports the results of a survey by Harris Interactive which found 38% of those questioned were against fracking and 40% had no opinion. Three quarters of those questioned supported solar power, 69% support tidal and marine and 70% hydro-electric. Nuclear was 35%, biomass 34% and coal 25%.
No fracking in Kerry Radio Kerry reports that Kerry County Council discussing the next county development plan has voted not to allow fracking
September 10th 2014
Fracking is safe – S/S Environment Secretary tells MPs fracking is safe with proper regulation. Our story
No arrests Police tell the Blackpool Gazette they have not yet made any arrests following the occupation more than three weeks ago of a building in Blackpool used by Cuadrilla. The company has submitted two planning applications to frack in the area.
Shareholders approve acquisition IGas welcomes the announcement that a majority of Dart Energy shareholders have approved the company’s proposed acquisition. IGas says the deal now needs to be approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority and authorities in Australia.
Clinton sold shale to the world The Guardian, reports how diplomatic cables and other documents obtained by Mother Jones (a US investigative website) show how Hillary Clinton sold fracking for shale gas to the world. Under leadership, the State Department worked with energy companies to spread fracking across the globe. The paper says Mrs Clinton sometimes personally promoted shale gas, while American officials, some with deep ties to industry, also helped US firms get lucrative shale concessions overseas.
Greater health problems in residents with wells near fracking sites A study led by Yale University finds residents of south-west Pennsylvania with ground-fed water wells living near fracking sites were more likely to report skin and respiratory problems. Hair loss, persistent rashes, sore throats and nose bleeds were also more common in people living closer to fracking sites but there was no significant increase in neurological, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal symptoms. The survey does not establish causation. It is published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the US National Institutes of Environmental Health Science
Injected fracking water no serious risk Penn State News reports on a paper in the Journal of Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources by a group of geologists which concludes that injected fracking water that remains underground is sequestered in rock formations and “does not pose a serious risk to water supplies”. Residual Treatment Water cannot migrate upward, the paper says, because of capillary and osmotic forces that propel RTW into, not out of, the shale.
Uphold fracking ban The Coloradoan reports that a group of environmental groups have filed an appeal asking for Longmont’s ban on fracking to be upheld. Longmont passed a ban on fracking in 2012 but on July 24th, a judge in Boulder declared this violated state interests.
No fracking in GW National Forest The Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, tells the Times Dispatch he will not allow fracking in the George Washington National Forest. US Forest Service officials are currently considering fracking and other uses of the forest as part of a new management plan. The decision rests with the US Department of Agriculture.
September 9th 2014
Sussex Police drops 5 cautions accepted by people arrested at last year’s anti-fracking protest at Balcombe. Our story
Joss Garman, associate fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, writing in the Yorkshire Post, says the best way for the EU to reduce its reliance on Russian gas is to reduce its dependence on gas full stop. He says Europe could cuts gas dependence by a third by 2030 if European government focussed on improving energy efficiency. He quotes the International Energy Agency as saying large scale shale gas is unlikely to account for more than 10% of Europe’s gas supplies by 2030.
The North Wales Daily Post reports that Happy Monday’s maraca player, Bez, held his own version of Question Time on fracking at Festival No 6 at Portmeirion. The told the paper the event was an opportunity to “wake people up to fracking” and warned Wales to be vigilant.
The annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin from the World Meteorological Organisation reports that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013. The bulletin says the 2013 concentration of CO2 was 142% of the pre-industrial era, methane was 253% and nitrous oxide 121%. CO2 concentrations increased more in 2012-2013 than during any other year since 1984, possibly because of reduced CO2 uptake by the earth’s biosphere and steadily increasing CO2 emissions. WMO Secretary-General, Michel Jarraud, said: “We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board. We are running out of time.”
September 8th 2014
Research by The Guardian and Greenpeace suggests that more than 120 Conservative MPs face protests groups in their constituencies. 31 of the 40 key Conservative marginal seats are in areas where exploratory drilling is about to start or has been permitted, the paper says. Only 7 members of the cabinet will not be affected. Of 160 protest groups, 70% are in Conservative areas, and 15% in Labour. The remainder of groups cover several seats.
A report by the IPPR think-tank says the large-scale centralised utility model of the UK’s electricity system is becoming obsolete and holding back innovation. The IPPR calls for reforms to energy regulation and policy and the structures of the market to enable the rapid development of a smart grid. New technologies, such as solar photovoltaics, onshore wind, batteries and smart appliances, are key to cheaper, cleaner, more competitive and secure electricity but they disrupt how electricity systems traditionally operate.
Bill McKibben, writing on the US investigative journalism site Mother Jones, says fracking is a liability in fighting climate change. Given the investment in fracking, he says, gas far from being a bridge to solar and wind power, “may actually be a breakwater that keeps this new wave of truly clean energy from washing onto our shores”. He says: “Once you’ve built the pipelines and gas-fired power plants, the sunk investment makes it that much harder to switch: Suddenly you have a bunch of gas barons who will fight as hard as the coal barons Obama is now trying to subdue”.
A letter to the Scunthorpe Telegraph calls for a debate about fracking and future energy needs. The writer says he had signed up to help CPRE have a balanced debate at its conference in July but “nobody ‘pro’ would attend so it was cancelled”.
The Hedon Blog reports that a street poll of 123 people in Hedon in East Yorkshire carried out by Holderness Labour Party on September 6th found 15 in favour and 108 against.
Shale Energy Insider says researchers at Southwest Research Institute and University of Texas suggest biochar, a substance from plant matter, can be used to treat fracking flow back water. Biochar absorbs impurities, such as hydrocarbons, organics, biocides and some inorganic metal ions, the researchers conclude.
Columbus Business First, quoting the Energy Information Agency, reports that the Utica shale region in Ohio is expected to produce 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day next month. The Marcellus shale, mainly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is forecast to exceed 16 bcf/day, according to the EIA.
Dallas News reports that the Texas Railroad commissioner, David Porter, has released a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he calls for greater enforcement of US sanctions against the Russian gas firm, Gazprom. Last week, two US former senators, were revealed as lobbyists for Gazprombank, a bank wholly owned by Gazprom and also subject to sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Mr Porter said: “I am greatly concerned that a blacklisted, government owned, Russian bank is able to continue its campaign to weaken the American oil and gas industry and to hire two former United States Senators to exert pressure on American policymakers.”
Pittsburg Business Times reports that the Marcellus Shale Coalition has commissioned Environmental Standards Inc to design standardized methods for testing dissolved methane levels in groundwater. The work is important, the firm said, because there is no one standard method for sampling and testing for groundwater methane.
Research by the University of Michigan finds 54% of Pennsylvanians support shale gas extraction in their state, compared with 29% of New Yorkers. The study also found that 47% of Pennsylvanians view the word fracking negatively, compared with 66% of New Yorkers. Just over 50% in both states believe that most experts are divided on the risks of fracking.
September 7th 2014
The Lancashire Evening Post reports that companies that want to frack in the county could face a lengthy fight. The paper says campaigners from across the UK see farmland between Preston and Blackpool as a key battleground and are planning a vigorous challenge to exploration plans. 11,000 people have responded, most opposed, to Cuadrilla’s planning application to frack at Preston New Road. A similar number are expected in response to the company’s application for Roseacre Wood, for which consultation closes later this month.
A letter to The Guardian warns that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated by the EU and US represents “a massive attack on the sovereignty of democratically elected governments”. The letter says the TTIP would allow companies to sue countries that pass laws in the public interest that could have an impact on profits and it cites legal action against Quebec for deciding to ban fracking.
The Express says ministers are close to getting cross-party agreement on its plans to change the trespass laws, allowing companies to drill under land without the owner’s permission. The paper says the government may offer concessions to Labour when the issue is debated in the Lords next month. It quotes insides at the Department of Energy and Climate Change who believe ministers need only negotiate finer points of detail to “lock down fracking” before next year’s election.
In The Pipeline reports that another giant hydraulic fracturing provider will be created in Texas’ Permian Basin as C&J Energy Services of Houston absorbs the completion and production arm of Nabors Industry. The deal is worth $2.86 billion and will create the largest fluid management fleet in the country and the second largest workover and well-servicing fleet.
The Houston Chronicle reports that a three-member task force has concluded there’s not enough data to determine why there has been an increase in the number of earthquakes in Kansas. The state had 49 earthquakes this year, up to late August, which the US Geological Society described as “an unusually high increase over previous years”. The task force is calling for the installation of six permanent monitors to improve research.
September 6th 2014
The Nottingham Post reports IGas has no plans to submit planning applications for Nottinghamshire. It quotes a spokesperson: “We have a number of licensed sites in Nottinghamshire and we have conducted seismic tests. There are no planning applications prepared to be submitted.”
An Associated Press report in The Columbus Dispatch said regulators in Ohio had suspended operations at two deep-injection wells for fracking waste water after possible evidence that operations had caused a 2.1 magnitude earthquake. The operating company, American Water Management Services, had recent recently received permission to increase pressures at the site at Weathersfield in north east Ohio, the paper said.
September 5th 2014
The NFU in Lancashire welcomes the possession order granted by Manchester High Court for land at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton, according to the Lancashire Evening Post. NFU Lancashire County Adviser Adam Briggs tells the paper: “The NFU is extremely pleased that no future trespass can take place on our member’s farm and that they can now farm in peace without antagonising interruptions. Notices have been put up around the farm warning future trespassers of Manchester High Court’s ruling.
Bloomberg reports that the US shale gas pioneer, Aubrey McClendon, plans to create a collection of public companies each specialising in a single American shale region. It says Mr Clendon, who is backed by private equity companies, has raised $10 billion in the past six months to acquire gas fields.
An editorial in the Washington Post welcomes the proposed 550 mile gas pipeline through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. It connects Mid-Atlantic states directly to some of the richest shale gas deposits in the world, the paper says, and will benefit new and existing households and businesses. The editorial rejects concerns that the pipeline will encourage fracking and bring environmental risks. “The new infrastructure will be relatively leak-free”, it says. By the time the pipeline is in service (in four years’ time) air pollution standards will apply to the fracking wells that supply it.
ResearchAndMarkets.com forecasts that the global market for fracking chemicals and fluids will grow at 9% over the period 2013-2018. It says one of the reasons is the increased consumption of oil and gas, which has “forced companies and governments to increase their production by investing in the oil and gas sector. One of the major challenges, it says, is the isolation of flowback fluid from its surrounding environment.
ResearchAndMarkets.com also forecasts North America’s fracking market will reach $51.93billion by 2020, up from $41.96 billion in 2013.
September 4th 2014
Fernhurst villagers, environmental groups and anti-fracking campaigners welcome the recommendation to reject Celtique Energie’s planning application for an exploratory oil well in the South Downs National Park. Our story
60% of people who took part in a poll for The Guardian oppose fracking in national parks. 22% thought it should be allowed. The poll also found that 70% opposed the government’s plans to change the trespass laws to allow oil and gas companies to drill without landowners’ permission. Even among supporters of fracking, 62% opposed the plan. Only 17% of those questioned were in favour. Only 10% of those questioned would be happy to see fracking near their home but 57% would support fracking generally if it were properly regulated, the paper says.
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking also publishes a letter by a Fylde doctor, Frank Rugman, who asks whether residents near Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking sites are about to become innocent victims of an industrial experiment. Dr Rugman says benzene, present in fracking flow back water, is linked to cancers. His letter was sent to the local Lytham St Anne’s paper but not printed, RAFF says
Francis Lobo tells The Actuary the risks of unconventional oil and gas development are similar to conventional drilling but the public are particularly sensitive to them. He says the risk range from vehicle accidents to blowouts and contamination of drinking water. “The extent to which fracking will become viable and acceptable will depend in large part on how well risks are managed and mitigated”, he adds.
China Daily picks up the World Resources Institute report (see September 2nd) and says water shortages post a huge hurdle to China’s development of shale gas reserves. It quotes one of the authors, Paul Reig: “In China, we found large amounts of shale resources. However, most of these are located in areas of water stress”. 60%+ of China’s shale are in areas of high to extremely high baseline water stress or arid conditions.
Guy Standing, writing for The Guardian website, says fracking should be the defining issue at the general election. He says shale gas has worrying implications for the environment and income distribution. He describes government plans for fracking as a “licence to legalised corruption”. Progressive political parties should, he says, tell us what they would do if fracking goes ahead.
September 3rd 2014
Planners at the South Downs National Park Authority are recommending refusal of Celtique Energie’s planning application to drill at Fernhurst. Our story. More details. Planning report Celtique Energie’s reaction
The Advertising Standards Authority rules that a pro-shale gas advert paid for by a US fracking company is misleading, exaggerated and unsubstantiated, after complaint by a Balcombe resident. Our story
Britain and Ireland Frack Free reports on its Facebook page that seven people arrested at anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss are acquitted after a trial at Manchester Magistrates Court
Energy Voice reports the cost of the communications office at the Department of Energy and Climate Change has risen by nearly 70% in two years from 1.408 million (2011-12) to 2.38 million (2013-14). We’ll try to bring you more detail on this.
Labour MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, Michael Connarty, calls for a new commission to control shale gas extraction to be included in party’s general election manifesto. Speaking to the Linlithgow Gazette, he says a commission would ensure profits from Scottish shale gas were retained for Scottish people.
The Environment, Transport and Localities select committee of Buckinghamshire County Council is told that the likely amount of shale gas in the county is too small to make extraction cost effective, the Bucks Free Press reports. Areas in the west and south of the county are included in the government’s 14th licensing round. Cllr Lesley Clarke, cabinet member for planning and environment, told the committee: “It’s likely to be costly for companies to prospect here in Buckinghamshire and they’ll probably want to go for low-hanging fruit first”. But she said oil and gas developments would need to be considered in the replacement Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
Sin Fein councillors in Fermanagh challenge the DUP’s stance on fracking after two members apparently changed their mind about the technique, the Fermanagh Herald reports. The paper says Keith Elliott and Paul Robinson supported a motion opposing shale gas exploration at a meeting on July 30th. But on August 4th, at a full council meeting, they abstained along with another party colleague.
Bloomberg reports that Royal Dutch Shell’s gas discoveries near the Pennsylvania-New York border indicate the Utica shale formation extends hundreds of miles further east than originally thought. The company announced two finds today in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, which are more than 300 miles from the centre of the shale field.
The Daily Telegraph reports it has seen an EU confidential document which proposes a ban on investment in Russian oil companies unless Russia pulls its troops out of Ukraine. The sanction would cut off funds to key parts of Russia’s economy but would have a direct impact on the British energy company, BP, the paper says.
Atlantic CTV News says the government of Nova Scotia will ban fracking for onshore shale gas until the province’s population is ready to “embrace the industry”. Energy Minister, Andrew Younger, said Nova Scotians had made it clear they were “not comfortable” with fracking.
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking urges people opposed to fracking in the Fylde area near Blackpool to object to Cuadrilla’s proposed shale gas site at Preston new Road before the consultation deadline on Friday September 5th. The group says fracking will industrialise the area, and risk air, water, land and health with no gain for local residents.
Fracking is not a threat, writes Isaac Orr, a researcher at The Heartland Institute (a US conservative public policy think tank) on The Hill blog. He says he wants to set the record straight on what he describes as “inaccurate scientific claims” made in an earlier article on the site (Wake-up call on fracking) by lawyer Helen Slotje. The author, awarded the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize, called on officials to follow the science of fracking, not the money, because she said “the health of communities is at stake”.
Magellan Petroleum Corporation confirms that work had started at the Horse Hill-1 exploratory oil well near Horley in Surrey. The company said the well was expected to drill to 8,700ft to test for oil in Portland sandstone, Corallian sandstone and great oolite formations and for a conventional gas target. The statement said the well would be drilled vertically and would not be fracked.
September 2nd 2014
Water shortages could hinder fracking for shale oil and gas in many parts of the world, according to the World Resources Institute, reported by the BBC. The WRI says 38% of the world’s shale resources are in dry areas or areas with severe water stress, including eight of the top 20 countries with the largest shale resources. These include China, Algeria, Mexico, South Africa, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt and India.
Natural Gas Europe reports that Cuadrilla Resources is part of a consortium working to develop and test new methane measuring instruments for shale gas extraction. The project, led by the Centre for Carbon Measurement at the National Physical Laboratory, will include monitoring for methane at Cuadrilla sites.
Bloomberg reports that the US Environmental Protection Agency is considering forcing oil and gas producers to cut emissions of methane. Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, tells investors at a forum in New York that the agency will decide this year whether to bring in regulations for mandatory emission cuts or rely on voluntary guidelines.
Aggregate Research reports American oil and gas companies are running out of sand. It quotes a forecast by Morgan Stanley that demand for sand will grow 96% from 2013-2016, compared with a 76% growth in supply. The site says fracking companies increase the oil and gas they can extract by using more sand and it suggests sand prices could rise by 50%.
Researchers are looking at whether money from fracking in the Marcellus Shale region of the US is helping children and families, reports Associated Press (in the Epoch Times). Molly Martin, a sociology professor at Penn State University, is comparing crime, education, income, childhood obesity and teen pregnancies in communities in north east Pennsylvania that have experienced drilling in the past six years, with nearby ones in New York state that haven’t.
Tests in the Barnett Shale gas field in north Texas found arsenic, selenium and strontium at above safe levels in some private water wells within 3 km of active gas wells. The study by the University of Texas and reported in the journal Environmental Science and Technology also found methanol and ethanol in 29% of the samples from 100 wells. It says elevated levels could be due to a variety of factors, including natural migration of chemicals, lowering the water table and industrial accidents, as well as faulty gas well casings.
Anti-fracking campaigners say almost 10,000 objections have been lodged against Cuadrilla’s two planning applications to frack in the Fylde area near Blackpool, the Lancashire Evening Post reports. Friends of the Earth say 4,500 of its supporters have objected and Frack Free Lancashire says it has gathered 5,000 more signatures.
A report by Allied Market Research forecasts the global shale gas market is expected to reach $104.1 billion by 2020 and reach production of 19.6 tcf. The report says production of shale gas in North America is having an impact on the global market. But the Asia-Pacific region and Europe has “tremendous potential” to grow because a significant number of reserves are untapped.
OilPrice.com reports that George Soros has doubled his stake in YPF, the state-owned oil company in Argentina and its access to some of the world’s largest shale oil and gas resources. Chevron has also announced a joint venture with the company.
The Jerusalem Post reports the city’s district committee for planning and building rejected by 13 votes to 1 a pilot drilling project by Israel Energy Initiatives, which wants to explore for shale oil in the Shefla basin. The Energy Minister was the only vote in favour. Environment Minister, Amir Peretz, told the Post shale oil development would go ahead only in a crisis when the country truly needed it.
September 1st 2014
Frack Free Fernhurst calls on supporters to write to the South Downs National Park after the Highways Authority drops its objection to Celtique Energie’s drilling plans. Our story
A study by Friends of the Earth Cymru finds that at its peak a shale gas industry is likely to create 240 for local people. Most would be in low-skilled, low-paying work, the charity says. It also predicts that a period of peak employment would last only four years, after which work would decline rapidly. More 100,000 people currently work in renewable energy, agriculture and tourism in Wales and Friends of the Earth Cymru says there’s no assessment on how fracking might affect employment in these sectors. Full report
Spending on communications staff by the Department for Energy and Climate Change rose by 69% in two years, according to figures released today. Energy Minister, Amber Rudd, in a written answer to her Labour Shadow, Tom Greatrex, said DECC’s communication’s unit spent £2.384 million on staff in 2013-4, compared with £1.408 million in 2011-12. DECC told us it had “reallocated resource to ensure that it could communicate more effectively – supporting householders in saving money and energy, supporting investment in the biggest infrastructure pipeline in Britain and fighting dangerous climate change. DECC did not increase its overall spending to do this.”
IGas chairman, Francis Gugen, tells shareholders, in a statement in advance of today’s AGM, the company’s “wealth of background data and operator status” makes it “well-placed” to participate in the 14th round of onshore licenses. The statement says IGas will bid for various blocks and is “in discussion with partners in respect of a number of blocks”. The statement also says more seismic surveying will begin in north west England in the next couple of months.
The Lancashire Evening Post carries a letter from the Roseacre Awareness and Preston New Road Action Groups in response to an email from Cuadrilla about its (then) proposed legal action (see August timeline). The groups say the email made no mention of the impact of Cuadrilla’s plans, submitted in February on local residents, who it said have suffered “much anxiety and stress”. The letter describes Cuadrilla’s “heavy-handed” approach (security guards, helicopters flying overhead, vehicles driven around fields at night, additional police presence) and said this was causing severe distress to many residents.
The Lib Dems say they want to ban electricity generated from unabated coal. The Zero Carbon Britain Bill, to be included in the party’s manifesto, would introduce a decarbonisation target for electricity generation. The plans do not mention fracking or shale gas. The party says it will be asking people for their views before finalising the plans in its manifesto.
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