Chichester talks fracking

Fracked Or Please don't Use the F-word

Two sides in the fracking debate went head to head at an event in Chichester to discuss the pros and cons of shale gas.

On the pro side was Professor Ernest Rutter, of Manchester University, and Dr Nick Riley, formerly of the British Geological Survey. Opposing fracking were Emeritus Professor at Glasgow University, David Smythe, and writer and campaigner, Julie Wassmer.

The debate was chaired by Alistair Beaton, the writer of Fracked, a new sell-out play currently running at Chichester Festival Theatre.

About 200 people watched the debate, of whom about 10% were in favour, 50% against and 40% unsure. By the end, six people said they had changed their minds: two from unsure to in favour and four from unsure to against.

DrillOrDrop was in the audience and compiled these extracts of the views of the panellists.

To explore or not explore?

Ernest Rutter

Ernest Rutter

Ernest Rutter (ER): “We don’t know without exploration whether we have an economically-viable resource. We need about 50 wells to find out if there is anything worth proceeding with.”

David Smythe (DS): “Shale gas exploration in Britain should be banned on the precautionary principle. It is no solution to Britain’s own energy needs because if the industry ever got going it would take too long to ramp up to full scale and last, but not least, it is not even economic. It is going to lose the companies and the public large amounts of money.”

Nick Riley (NR): “I think it is unscientific to say there should be a moratorium on exploration because being a scientist I want to know more knowledge. The exploration phase, which is where we’re at – hardly at with shale gas in this country – if we don’t have exploration we won’t be able to address the concerns that the anti –fracking community have: the integrity of the wells, that fluids will move up faults, we won’t be able to do the operations safely.”

Julie Wassmer (JW): “If other countries have the good sense to ban fracking we can do it too and we should.”

Economy benefit or Ponzi scheme?

ER: “I think we should explore the potential of home produced shale gas for business and jobs. As well as the value of the gas produced, thousands of new jobs will be created in the supply chain, many areas of industry will be rejuvenated or made competitive, 6,000 miles of sealed pipes will be needed, tax revenue generated.”

DS: “US shale is not a success. It is a Ponzi scheme. The breakeven point for US shale is $6 per unit. The Henry Hub market value [for gas] is currently $2.30. They are only carrying on because they have to keep drilling to service the debt. The analogue would be: you’re in hock to your credit card, you have to pay the monthly payments, otherwise you get sued by your credit card company so you get another credit card and you borrow money on that to pay the other credit card. The American industry is actually like that but on a huge scale. The American shale gas industry model is unsustainable so why should we be applying this in the UK where the costs will be far higher? They are carrying on because they have to keep drilling to service the debt. The shale bubble, as they call it in the US, is now ready to collapse.

JW: “If the industry came even close to stringent regulation it would be financially unviable. Ironically the industry is already financially unviable due to the low price of oil, for example. The US players are carrying a huge amount of debt. The vast estimates of reserves quoted in press releases here by companies are precisely that. They are estimates for investors. The US has shown that only about 5% of the resource is actually producible. And that percentage is likely to be far lower here due to the geology. Why do they continue? This “frack it and see policy” favouring short-term profit is for the company’s shareholders.”

Can fracking be safe?

EW: “All of this must be done and seen to be done in the framework of best industrial practice.”

NR: “The UK has much better regulation than the US.”

David Smythe

David Smythe

DS: “UK regulation is not the best in the world. It is split between four agencies and a number of things can fall between the cracks between them. Do not be misled by the assertion that the UK regulation is good. It is basically a process of self-regulation and self-reporting.”

JW: “Fracking cannot be regulated safely. Reports come with one important caveat: that fracking can be done safely if there is that robust regulatory regime in place. There isn’t. There’s a set of offshore regulations and what amounts to self-regulation by the companies involved. … [On the Blackpool earthquakes] the company failed even to recognise the significance of that event and those are the energy minister’s words, not mine. So when the government boasts of its gold standard regulation I am minded to ask exactly where were they in 2011 when fracking was still said to be safe. And why on earth should we still trust them now that the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive have suffered so many budget cuts.  You cannot make it safe.”

Who gets hurt by fracking?

ER: “Environmental and health impacts, these are the things that concern people most of all, they are local impacts. The big problem is trucking. You cannot get away from that. The main adverse effect is during the construction phase which will last for about one year. People will suffer inconvenience there is no doubt about that. When you have a big construction project someone gets it in the neck.”

NR: “Obviously there will be some places, in residential areas and because of infrastructure where even if the geology is good it is clear that those sites will not be able to be developed.”

JW: “There is a disconnect between what the industry, regulators and government is say and what happens in practice. People on the ground know the threat.”

Is shale compatible with tackling climate change?

ER: “We are committed as a nation to not discharge carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050. That does not mean we have to stop burning fossil fuels. Importing gas doubles greenhouse gas emissions as a nation, compared with home produced gas. Imported gas has to be paid for by the balance of payments. Home produced gas is good, imported gas is bad both for the economy and for greenhouse gas emissions. Home produced gas will replace imported gas not add to it.”

Nick Riley

Nick Riley

NR: “I was deeply, deeply, disappointed by Cameron government, without any consultation, scrapping the only, the world’s first, carbon capture and storage demonstration in Scotland on gas fired power generation. … If you use hydrocarbons you should be prepared to produce them domestically if you can. Importing them displaces your issues to another part of the world or the country. We have renewable or nuclear but they are not neutral. They all have an environmental impact.”

JW: As the former climate diplomat John Ashton has said: ‘You can be in favour of fracking or you can be in favour of tackling climate change. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time’.”

Will shale gas industrialise our countryside?

NR: “If you say that shale gas is going to industrialise our landscape – which I don’t think it will – you should listen to the [Radio 4] farming programme this week. … In the East Midlands, where we have the highest density of oil and gas wells, the EA’s own regional data from 2009 shows that the water companies, the waste disposal firms and farming are the main polluter of groundwater.”

Julie Wassmer

Julie Wassmer

JW: “The truth is out there. It is there in every country where fracking has taken place. In areas, as in Pennsylvania which have been abandoned a sacrificial zones to this industry. So where are the sacrificial zones to be in our densely populated island: in Balcombe, in Blackpool, in the Weald?”

Faults: what’s the risk?

ER: “Most faults will not leak. Most faults seal and that is a fact.”

DS: “We don’t know whether faults are seals or conduits to flow. It is not a closed issue. … What shocked me was that the [Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering] report made no mention of the risk of migration of contaminated fluids and the gases themselves up geological faults. And this is partly because they were so hooked up on in their report on discussing the earthquake triggering problem, which in my opinion is not a big issue when you are fracturing. (Disposing of the waste is a different matter). This is not a problem in the USA, which is why there have been relatively few studies of the results of the chances of migration up faults in the US shale basins. This is because they don’t have these kinds of faults.”

NR: “Have you found any leakage coming up faults from carboniferous developments in the North Sea or the Irish Sea? Many of those wells have been fracked. I don’t think faults are a big risk.”

What do we do with the waste?

ER: “We have quite a lot of experience of dealing with water from oil and gas sites. When you do not have an industry you do not have the [waste treatment] infrastructure. You develop the technology when you need it. We don’t know if we are going have the industry so we don’t know whether we need the water treatment infrastructure and technology.”

Who opposes fracking and why?

NR: “Fracking has become a touchstone for a lot of angst in our society for all sorts angst that we have…. I think there is a big fear campaign by anti-frackers. Leaflets were put through letterboxes of farmers in Lancashire with pictures of dead cattle in a field in America. UK regulations over here don’t allow you to have open pools of frack water. Non-governmental organisations: they run businesses and they need the limelight because they need subscriptions. … There is a complete lack of integrity and spin in a lot of things I have seen.”

JW: “It would be wholly wrong to believe that those who oppose fracking are a bunch of irrational eco-freaks. There are nearly 500 residents’ groups [opposing fracking] in this country. Frack Free Sussex alone has over 10,000 followers. Importantly members of these groups include professors, lawyers, doctors, councillors of all parties and engineers who are well versed in this industry and its failings. We fight only with the truth and we don’t need PR companies or to bribe communities with compensation.”

Fracked continues at Chichester Festival Theatre until Saturday 6 August 2016. All performances are currently sold out but returns may be available. Link to tickets

DrillOrDrop always welcomes comments on posts. In order to keep the comments area safe and legal, DrillOrDrop has a new commenting policy which you can read here.

70 replies »

  1. “Chemicals and sand are the same – except in the UK where only none hazardous chemicals can now be used….”

    Chemicals permitted for use at Broadford Bridge:-

    •Barium Sulfate
    •Calcium Chloride
    •Calcium Hydroxide
    •Polyanionic Cellulose
    •Crystalline Silica Quartz
    •Diethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether
    •Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether
    •Fatty Acid, Tall-Oil with Diethylenetriamine, maleic, anhydride, tetraethylenepentamine and triethylenetriamine
    •Hydrocarbons C11 to C14, N-Alkanes, Isoalkanes, Cyclics
    •Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distilate
    •Polymer in an Aqueous Emulsion
    •Sodium Carbonate
    •Sodium Hydroxide
    •Xanthan Gum
    •Calcined Petroleum Coke
    •Calcium Carbonate
    •Crystalline Silica Cristoballite
    •Crystalline Silica Tridymite
    •Morpholine Process Residues
    •5-Methyl Oxazolidine
    •Nitrilotriacetic Acid, Trisodium Salt Monohydrate
    •Silica Gel
    •Sodium Bicarbonate

    Clearly not “under-the-sink household chemicals”.

    The following are either carcinogenic and/or ‘high level’ hazardous (fatal/toxic/harmful):

    Crystalline Silica Quartz, Crystalline Silica Tridymite and Crystalline Silica Cristobalite (carcinogenic and high level hazard)
    Hydrocarbons C11-C14, N-Alkanes, Isoalkanes, Cyclics, <2% Aromatics (high level hazard)
    Methanol (high level hazard)
    Nitrilotriacetic Acid, Trisodium Salt Monohydrate (carcinogenic and high level hazard)
    Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether (high level hazard)
    Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distilate (high level hazard)
    N,N'-Methylene bis (5-Methyl Oxazolidine) (high level hazard)

    The total number of health warnings stated in the Material Safety Data Sheets are:
    •1 count of “Highly flammable liquid and vapour”
    •1 count of “May be corrosive to metals”
    •8 counts of “Explosive”
    •1 count of “Toxic if swallowed”
    •4 counts of “Harmful if swallowed”
    •3 counts of “May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways”
    •1 count of “Toxic in contact with skin”
    •2 counts of “Harmful in contact with skin”
    •2 counts of “Causes severe burns and eye damage”
    •7 counts of “Causes skin irritation”
    •3 counts of “May cause an allergic skin reaction”
    •4 counts of “Causes serious eye damage”
    •8 counts of “Causes serious eye irritation”
    •1 count of “Toxic if inhaled”
    •3 counts of “Harmful if inhaled”
    •3 counts of “May cause respiratory irritation – single exposure”
    •1 count of “Causes damage to organs – single exposure”
    •10 counts of “Causes damage to organs through prolonged and repeated exposure”
    •1 count of “May damage fertility or the unborn child”
    •9 counts of “May cause cancer”
    •1 count of “Suspected of causing cancer”

    A further 9 products permitted for the site have neither their composition disclosed, nor any safety data – these are the so-called trade secrets. In other words, neither we, the councils nor the EA have any knowledge about these substances that they have permitted for use in fairly close proximity to residential properties, equestrian facilities and that all must be transported within 10 feet of a childrens' nursery.

    5) Freedom of Information requests on Broadford Bridge reveal that:
    – There will be NO air monitoring of the site at all by the EA (FOI received January 2015)
    – The HSE stated that "Environment Agencies are the main regulator for chemicals used on onshore wells in Great Britain", and that it is not their responsibility to check the MSDSs for the chemicals being approved. However, a follow up FOI to the EA revealed that they DO NOT check the MSDSs either. In other words, the chief regulators for chemicals in the UK do not consult the MSDSs for the chemicals and products that they permit.
    – Another FOI to the EA revealed that they were not even aware that several pages from the MSDSs were missing during the public consultation in 2014.

    • Julie,

      I have never heard of Broadford Bridge so looked it up and found this:

      “This Broadford Bridge-1 borehole is a conventional exploration well similar to many others already drilled in West Sussex in recent decades and will NOT, at any stage, involve hydraulic fracturing of shales.”

      I thought we were discussing shale gas fracturing not drilling fluids.

      So please advise which of your long list of chemicals (which includes many natural products and many which are used in many different industries, cars and households) were used in the Frack Fluid at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall?

  2. Re Broadford Bridge – “gateway drilling” in light of the following:-

    Please note: Broadford Bridge is being touted as a conventional exploration well, but in a quarterly return to the Securities and Exchange Commission (a legal requirement for US companies, which are obliged to sign a statement under threat of severe criminal penalties that what is stated within the returns is 100% accurate). In March 2014, the following was stated: “A complete suite of logs and cores is planned to be collected from the Kimmeridge Clay and Liassic formations, which we believe will provide technical data, including thickness, oil maturity, formation pressure, and rock brittlesness, to be able to assess the potential for unconventional development of these formations.” Note – “unconventional”.

    By the govt’s redefinition of fracking (HVHF) in the Infrastructure Act, what took place at Preese Hall in 2011 would now no longer be considered to be fracking so isn’t your question re “Frack Fluid” irrrelevant? And re that new definition, using volume, see the following response from Prof Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh Univ:-

    “I have not discovered any argued definition to explain how or why these numbers were chosen.

    Or, indeed, why volumes of fluid are chosen at all – when the geological effects of fracking are really a consequence of strain rate (i.e. “speed” of imposed deformation of the rock).

    In all other subsurface activities I known of at present (and maybe somebody will communicate a new activity), then fluid injection is deliberately and closely monitored to control the maximum imposed additional pressure. In most cases that is to avoid fracking the rock. What we learn from that is that maximum pressure is important, not just fluid volumes.

    Looking at it positively, then a lesser volume of injected fluid, compressed to a high pressure, contains less stored energy than a higher volume of injected fluid, compressed to the same pressure. The induced fractures should, usually, extend less far into the rock formation. So you could see an argument of “safer” being used.

    However the “safer” argument is only really useful if it can be demonstrated that a statistically lesser hazard is created than with larger fluid volumes. Clearly, if such “low volume” fracking was used at Preese Hall, then that certainly triggered earth tremors which would have happened years, or decades or further, into the future. So in locations of the UK where the rocks are already stressed to breaking point (i.e. most of the UK), then this additional disturbance was clearly enough to induce an earth tremor. Consequently, I’d like to see the technical and supporting argument underlying and justifying this choice.

    In operational terms, this is a very “useful” definition, because it means that companies can drill, and undertake low volume fracking, without needing to apply for a fracking licence. There is the potential to gain useful scientific information – for example how great was the pressure needed to induce the small frack, and what was the flow rate of hydrocarbon back into the borehole, from the smaller fracking radius affected around the borehole. This could help build up a database of stress conditions deep below ground, and a database of producing flow rates from the targeted mud rocks or tight reservoirs.

    However, given the very clear public concern about fracking of any type in the UK, it seems to me that releasing these new rules and definitions, buried in the text of the Infrastructure Act, without a clear supporting scientific argument, explanation, and justification, is potentially very unhelpful. That risks the perception, of what could be a move to enable scientific data to be gathered, to be perceived as dodgy and conspiratorial manipulation of the rules by Government. Much more debate is needed to understand why this “definition” is needed which ignores fluid pressures, and to explain why this is not simply a cynical swerve around the planning and judicial rules of precedent, to enable drilling and fracking where many members of the public are opposed to that activity.


    Stuart Haszeldine” ENDS

    I’d say what you do need to be aware of, following all of the above, is that communities will continue to oppose this industry and shale will fail. As Andrew Austin once said (late of IGas) “Anywhere we choose to drill or would look to drill would have to be with the acquiescence of the local community and in working with it. Frankly if you do not have the social licence to operate with the acquiescence of the people you are with, when you are dealing with your neighbours that is going to be a constraint. It goes back to Lord Lawson’s question earlier about what the barriers are right now. They are getting local acceptance where we are trying to drill. We need to work with those communities, and it is the inability to manage that, that would rule out any particular area.” ENDS.

    Companies do not have “local acceptance” and – be under no illusions – they won’t get it. Andrew Austin is long gone…

    • Julie, as I stated in the debate, the listing of the chemicals is only relevant in the context of source-vector-target-exposure. Road runoff is far more of a risk than frack fluids. Humans and animals breath in road-spray and the runoff enters ground and surface waters. For instance you list methanol – this is very toxic to aquatic organisms (and humans) and yet is the main active ingredient in many screenwash fluids (especially with cheaper and mid-priced products). By the way methanol (which is sold in hardware stores as methylated spirits and dyed blue- is a substance found in many homes, under the sink etc.). https://www.epa.gov/polluted-runoff-nonpoint-source-pollution/what-nonpoint-source and https://www.epa.gov/polluted-runoff-nonpoint-source-pollution/types-nonpoint-source .

      On another point I do not remember Prof Hazeldene questioning the 100kt CO2 threshold injection limit before a CO2 storage licence is required in the EU CCS Directive. These thresholds are designed to allow eficient exploration and testing injections.


  3. ” The anti’s attempt to portray the 200 previously fracked wells in the UK as if they are completely dissimilar to what is done today is amusing to see…'”

    Response from Toni Harvey (DECC’s senior geologist) toni.harvey@decc.gsi.gov.uk:-
    “DECC has records of some kind of the drilling of 2159 onshore wells (which we add to when a new one is spud, see “basic onshore well data” on https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-onshore-exploration-and-production
    We do not however have records of how many of these were fracked….From enquiries to the operators, we believe that at least 200 did have hydraulic fracturing treatments of some kind, but we would emphasise that these non-shale fracs are not comparable, in the volumes of fluid employed, to Cuadrilla’s operations at Preese Hall in 2011 – the non-shale fracs are much smaller.
    I hope that helps.”

  4. Let’s get something clear, shall we? While many pro-fracking so-called ‘academics’/frackademics/shills and trolls are paid by the industry to get a disingenuous or even downright pro-fracking message out, those who oppose this industry do so of their own time and without payment. That means – I work – and I use the rest of my time to oppose fracking – as plenty of others do in the UK. If you guys have little else to do but comment and nit-pick on here, fine. Maybe you even get paid for it. But here’s my last word. It’s a transcription that a campaigner did of what I said to the audience at the debate last Saturday – and from now on, you’re talking to yourselves. Good night gentlemen. Remember, shale will fail.

    “In 2013, east Kent fought a successful campaign against drilling and we did so alongside the respected hydrogeologist, Graham D. Warren, who worked for almost 30 years for the Environment Agency – one of the regulators of the fracking industry – so it would be wholly wrong to believe that those who oppose fracking are merely a bunch of “irrational eco freaks.”

    In truth – there are nearly 500 residents’ groups in the UK and Frack Free Sussex alone has over 10,000 followers. Importantly, members of these groups include professors, lawyers, doctors, councillors – of all parties – and engineers well versed in the industry and its failings.

    The truth is – fracking cannot be regulated safely – and if the industry came even close to adopting stringent regulation, it would become financially unviable. That’s why in the US, companies were exempted from the Safe Drinking Water act in 2005.

    Ironically, the industry IS already financially unviable due to the low price of oil. The US players are carrying a huge amount of debt, and the vast estimates of reserves which companies here boast in their press releases here are precisely that – estimates for investors. The US has shown that only around 5% of resource is actually producible and it’s likely that percentage would be far lower here due to the geology.
    So why do they continue? Well, the current ‘frack it and see’ policy may bring short term profits for the company shareholders. But it will cause long term damage for our environment, our health and the tourist and rural economies.

    You don’t have to believe me – believe what the government isn’t telling you. Because it is absolutely true that a government DEFRA report, on the rural impacts from fracking, was redacted in no fewer than 62 sections. That’s 62 sections hidden from public view – which included: a fall in property values but higher insurance costs for us to cover such events as explosion on site – that“environmental damage has occurred from leakage of waste fluids …” “that contaminated surface water” can affect human health via consumption of contaminated wildlife, livestock or agricultural products.” And that “increased industrialisation” may be brought to previously tranquil environments – with rural businesses that rely on clean air, land, water, suffering losses in agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.” So much for creating jobs…

    Those are just some of the real facts of fracking, but revealed only after pressure from Greenpeace and the Information Commissioner forced the government to reveal those 62 hidden sections.

    The truth really is out there – and in every country in which fracking has taken place – in areas, as in Pennsylvania, which are now beyond remediation and therefore abandoned as “sacrificial zones”. But where are the sacrificial zones to be on our densely populated island? Balcombe? Blackpool? The Weald?

    If you don’t happen to live close to a licensed area, you’re still not safe because many of the licensed areas are close to agriculture which is why dairy farmers oppose fracking in Lancashire.

    If you care about your family’s health please read the Medact report – written by distinguished health professionals in the UK it finds :“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming.”

    I care about truth and I also care about democracy and there is a deficit of both regarding fracking. Do you think you could possibly have received the truth on fracking from our government when Lord John Browne, the former head of BP, was made an unelected member of the cabinet, at the same time that he was the chairman of the fracking firm, Cuadrilla?

    Cuadrilla hires the top PR firm, Bell Pottinger, to put its message out but we fight only with the truth – and we don’t need PR companies – or to bribe communities with compensation – and those government promised sums are truly derisory in consideration of what is potentially at risk.

    It doesn’t matter if you consider the Royal Society report or the House of Lords Select Committee report… they ALL come with a caveat that fracking can only be done safely with a robust regulatory regime in place – and there is not – we have a set of regulations for the offshore industry and what amounts to self-regulation for fracking companies.

    When the only shale fracking ever to have taken place in this country in 2011 triggered the two earthquakes causing deformation to Cuadrilla’s well casing, the company “failed even to recognise the significance of that event” – the energy minister’s words not mine. So when the industry and government boast of “gold standard regulations”, I’m minded to ask exactly where were they in 2011 when fracking was still said to be safe – and why on earth should trust them now, after the Health & Safety Executive and the Environment Agency have suffered so many devastating budget cuts?

    In Kent, Graham Warren’s evidence showed that the Chalk aquifer, which supplies up to 90% of my county’s water, was at risk of irreversible contamination from fracking and that nothing short of 24- hour monitoring of sites could ensure even a minimum of safety. But demonstrators found the Doe Green site (near Warrington) totally unmanned last year and a Freedom of Information request submitted by cancer researcher, Dr Rebecca Martin, revealed the company was operating even without an EA permit. The HSE confirmed that “It is not unusual for a borehole site to be unmanned …” to which Dr Martin responded. “This industry is a real danger to people and our environment, the regulation is poor and no amount of government spin is going to change that.”

    So when you hear that protest camps are springing up around the country, the word is actually a misnomer, because these are protection camps – for the community – by the community – to monitor bad practice of the companies and, significantly 19 EA permit breaches were committed at a single conventional drilling operation in east Yorkshire with most of those reported by the local community.

    Consider the omnishambles of Cuadrilla’s operations to date and the fact that their latest applications to frack in Lancashire were rejected by the democratically elected country councillors, who investigated literally tens of thousands of pieces of evidence for months only for Cuadrilla, to appeal the decision and to have not the Planning Inspector decide the outcome but the government intervening to do so. When is democracy not democracy? Clearly, when it produces a decision at odds with central government on fracking. Then surely it will be overridden.

    And when is fracking not fracking? When the government chooses to redefine it as they did recently in the Infrastructure Act so that what took place in Lancashire in 2011 would not even now be considered fracking. What an UTTER insult to the intelligence of the people of this country to expect that if the “F” word isn’t mentioned we won’t recognise that we’ll suffer the same risk from the same process?

    I am not anti government – I am pro-people, pro-community, pro-democracy and I’m here today to tell you the truth – our government has promoted nepotistic relations with key individuals in the industry, pursued a dishonest framing campaign and a policy at odds with the evidence concerning UK climate law and the incontrovertible harm caused to communities elsewhere. That is why I stand in the way of fracking and I ask you to do the same – because if other countries have had the good sense to ban it. We can ban it too – and we must.”

  5. Goodnight Julie. I recall you mentioning that “When the only shale fracking ever to have taken place in this country in 2011 triggered the two earthquakes causing deformation to Cuadrilla’s well casing, the company “failed even to recognise the significance of that event” – the energy minister’s words not mine.”

    I hear this one frequently from several campaigners. Some of who repeat it even after being told the correct context of the deformation several times- even in public!!. I did not get chance to correct it when you came up with it in the debate.The casing deformation was within the shale interval. This casing is single layer as it designed to be perforated. It is not the same as casing that is much higher up the well and has several layers/barriers and is designed to maintain well integrity regarding preventing leaks to potable aquifers, the ground surface, water bodies or atmosphere.

    It is a pity that you sound like you will not be continuing to comment and post on this thread.


    • From a technical / engineering standpoint there is no issue with deformed casing other than costs to the Operator if they wish to use this casing for production or pass a high OD tool through it. A scab liner can easily be placed across it to ensure full pressure integrity. As Nick has said, the casing deformation is irrelevant to this discussion on shale gas and occurs in conventional oil and gas wells across mobile salts and / or when the collapse pressure of the casing is exceeded.

  6. I have read the comments already submitted here & have sensed the spike of rage from those that are pro-fracking against those who are attempting to protect our country against this industrialisation of our environment.
    Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that the pro-frackers live on Mars, have no families, pets or favourite natural spaces in the UK.

    The industry spokesmen are spouting technicalities in an effort to blind us with science & the Protectors are citing information we have received from US & Australian families whose lives have been blighted, land polluted & aquifers ruined.

    Are pro-frackers utterly devoid of humanity since they threw their caps in with the fossil fuel industry?
    It certainly seems that way to me.

    The assurances are never going to impress the normal British householders, because those very same assurances were given to our US & Australian friends, some of whom have suffered terribly, even died as a direct result of health impacts caused by the fracking for oil & gas.

    In simple terms we should all be prioritising health over wealth & if there is the slightest risk to our environment we should be looking for safer, cleaner ways to energise our societies.

    We don’t want huge drilling rigs in our fields, convoys of heavy trucks on our country roads, water wasted & lost to the eco-system, the risk of air pollution, the release of methane plumes into our atmosphere, depleted uranium perforation guns shattering the rocks under our land, unprotected oil rig staff contaminated with chemicals & radiation returning to their families to cause infertility & cancer. We don’t want any more secrecy preventing the real truth of the fossil fuel industry from reaching the press or the public.

    In short, dear sirs,
    We don’t want any more of your filthy pollution in this world as a whole!

    A million reams of studies will not convince us that fossil fuel is a fine & dandy thing when we have witnessed such tragedies as oilmen dying of cancer before they reach retirement, whole eco-systems such as the Gulf of Mexico decimated by oil & the chemical soup that is used to attempt a clean up. Not forgetting the thousands of Pennsylvanian families whose property isn’t worth a light since their state was turned into a patchwork quilt of pads & pipelines, compressors & toxic waste ponds.

    I live close to the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Drilling licences have been granted through that delicate World Heritage site to access a gas field which apparently stretches under the seabed & work is due to commence on the exploration stage of the job in September of this year.
    The local people are horrified even though we are assured that Wytch Farm nearby is the most successful oil field in the UK & has a perfect record extracting oil inconspicuously for many years.
    We are further assured that there will be no fracking because it isn’t mentioned on the planning applications & yet, we have seen from our research that this is precisely how the fossil fuel industry works.
    It breaks down the process into neat little bite sized chunks that do not alarm the planning committees, then it disguises it’s procedures with orwellian newspeak by changing the description of fracking, calling it well stimulation & other imaginative benign sounding processes.
    I don’t wish to write a tome here, but I could easily after 4 years of studying the issue…. I will simply state the obvious.

    We don’t want even one exploratory well because we don’t want shale gas or oil.

    We want solar panels, wind turbines & above all, we want wave or tidal power because, as human beings, we prefer to avoid the risk of consigning future generations to the risks of cleaning up the mess that we were foolish enough to permit.
    So please, stop trying to score petty points in this discussion, stop thinking about the profit & prestige.
    Instead think about the health of our country….. unless of course, you do happen to have that home on Mars.

    • Well said, Frances Leader. And regarding Wytch Farm which is so often cited as a shining example for this industry, even though it’s a conventional oil op, I have a list of “incidents” which includes those having taken place at Wytch Farm eg in March 2013, approximately 560kg (1,235lbs) of gas and 13,600 litres (2,992 gallons) of crude oil and produced water having been released as a spray that covered 10,800 square metres (116,250 square feet) of drill pad and a land management area north east of the site etc etc ad infinitum. Shale will fail. It certainly deserves to.

  7. Frances

    You assert “We want solar panels, wind turbines & above all, we want wave or tidal power because, as human beings, we prefer to avoid the risk of consigning future generations to the risks of cleaning up the mess that we were foolish enough to permit.
    So please, stop trying to score petty points in this discussion, stop thinking about the profit & prestige.
    Instead think about the health of our country….. unless of course, you do happen to have that home on Mars.”

    Have you ever thought about the land and sea space required. Where will all the raw materials come from to build such a renewable infrastructure? What about the toxic materials required to build the infrastructure, battery storage and electrical components? You appear to want two opposing outcomes – a landscape that is not industrialised and a renewables only energy system that you think is benign, when it is not. The latter at the scale you want it will certainly industrialise Britain’s landscape (and seascape).. Take a look out sea from the N wales coast. Windfarms everywhere with their blades rotating at gannet’s foraging height. At night the sea is covered in red navigation lights sited on each turbine, flashing like strobes as the blades spin and occlude the red lights. I could go on.

    See http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/RSsolar.pdf


  8. Silly boys arguing over the petty details again! If you are so smart put your smarts to work designing a free energy system that doesn’t pollute or use precious resources & rare earth metals.
    I told you in my comment, no amount of wheedling & whining will change my mind, because I am a grandmother who wants to see her progeny survive in better circumstances than are currently on offer.
    So, in the street wise vernacular, talk to the hand cos the face ain’t listening.

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