As companies across the Weald in southern England begin using acidisation as part of Kimmeridge oil exploration, a campaign group has published a new leaflet about the technique.
In this Guest Post, The Weald Action Group, an alliance of community organisations across the region, explains why it produced the leaflet.
Fracking under the radar? is a new leaflet about acidising from The Weald Action Group (WAG). Fracking under the radar? (pdf)
WAG is a strategic umbrella group supporting the many community groups across the South East who oppose the growing presence of the oil and gas industry in the region. They all share concerns about the techniques this industry proposes to use in as yet untapped, unyielding sections of the geology under our feet.
The leaflet explains the oil or gas extraction method known as ‘acidisation’ or ‘acidising’, which, like fracking, is a ‘stimulation technique’ designed to release oil or gas tightly trapped inside the pores of rocks.
While fracking is used to crack open shale, acidising is used to dissolve passageways through limestone or sandstone. Acidising uses far higher concentrations of chemicals than fracking, and brings similar risks for local people, animals and the environment.
The F word is politically toxic
The F word (fracking) has become politically toxic, and in the South East the oil and gas industry fell upon a ruse that enabled them to avoid the F word – in the early stages of their work, at least.
In the deep shales of the North of England, it is all too clear that fracking is the objective, and there the oil and gas industry and their supporters have had to bite the bullet, spill the beans, and call a frack a frack!
But in the South East the geology of the Weald Basin offered the industry a cunning ploy. Within the oil-bearing shale of the Weald Basin are thin layers of oily limestone-rich clay.
The industry realised that they could drill into these ‘limestone’ layers, claiming that acidising these snippets would give them a lucrative flow of oil. Fracking? What us? Nohohohoho!
Local groups do not believe them. They believe that the industry’s ultimate aim, having drilled and tested the ‘limestone’, is to frack the thick expanse of shale.
Fracking under the radar is a short leaflet, intended mainly for local people and councillors. It explains in simple terms how acidising works at different strengths and pressures, and why this kind of oil exploration, in shale or the ‘limestone’ within it, will give rise to a very large number of wells across the South East.
In the coming months, WAG will help provide more information and materials for awareness-raising, so that local campaigning groups and communities can ensure that other residents in the South East are not hoodwinked by the oil and gas industry, especially on the subjects of acidising and fracking.
In the meantime, please feel free to download and print the new leaflet here. Fracking under the radar? (pdf)
The Environment Agency has produced its own Frequently Asked Questions document on acidising here: Environment Agency FAQ
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