IGas plans for Ellesmere Port “don’t conform to UK climate commitments” – inquiry expert

Ellesmere Port tanks FFEP

IGas site at Ellesmere Port. Photo: Frack Free Ellesmere and Upton

IGas proposals to explore for gas at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire were incompatible with UK commitments to limit temperature rise, a climate change expert will warn next month.

Professor Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, has submitted evidence to a public inquiry on the scheme.

He says the company was “imprudent” and could have been “negligent” in failing to assess the impact on climate of its proposal.

In support of the local campaign group, Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton, Professor Anderson will also say that gas cannot be considered a low carbon source of energy.

The inquiry in Chester will consider IGas’s appeal against a refusal of planning permission to assess the viability of its Portside one well site. The company wants to carry out extended well tests on gas in the Pentre Chert, a rock formation which, it says, is not shale.

Cheshire West and Chester Council rejected the company’s application in January 2018 on the grounds that it failed “to mitigate and adapt to climate change” and ensure “best use of renewable energy use and generation”.

IGas proposes to flare over 10 tonnes of gas per day for up to 90 days. But it has told Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton (FFEP & U) that it has not calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of the well test.

Professor Anderson said in his evidence to the inquiry:

“It is undeniable that the proposed development will cause greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions will be released during its construction, operation and decommissioning.

“Even though IGas propose a short development – from start to finish around 18 weeks – and even though it is just exploration, the release of the greenhouse gases that it will cause is neither mathematically nor symbolically compatible with the UK’s ratification of the Paris Agreement.”

He accused IGas of seeking to ignore or downplay the climate implications of its scheme. But he said:

“They cannot be ignored in making planning decisions. The greenhouse gas emissions caused by the proposed development will persist for a very long time in the atmosphere. They will impact on the ability of the UK to achieve the radical reductions needed to avoid the extremely serious impacts of warming above 1.5°C.”

In a letter to FFEP & U, IGas quoted part of a statement from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official advisor to the UK government, which said emissions from shale gas exploration were “generally small”.

But the company did not complete the CCC’s advice, which said most studies of greenhouse gas emissions usually ignored exploration and that exploration emissions, particularly for extended well tests, should not be assumed to be low.

Commenting on the Ellesmere Port scheme, Professor Anderson said:

“That IGas are proposing fossil fuel exploration without even knowing what its greenhouse gas impact will be is imprudent, at best.

“But, when considered alongside the CCC’s express conclusion that ‘it should not be taken as a given that emissions from exploration will be low, especially for any extended well  tests’, IGas’s failure to assess its own greenhouse gas impact is negligent, all the more so for a company operating in an industry so reliant on robust analysis, measurement and compliance.”

Professor Anderson added:

“IGas should have calculated the greenhouse gas emissions for the proposed development so that its impact could be known.

“That calculation should have included provision for fugitive emissions, cold venting, flaring, ancillary plant, transport, and construction, decommissioning and restoration.

“Since IGas has failed to undertake these calculations, the true extent of the greenhouse gas impact of the proposed development is unknown.”

“Erroneous to say any fossil fuel is low carbon”

181114Ellesmere Port FFEPaU

Local campaigners outside the IGas site at Upton Photo: Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton

The government, in its revised National Planning Policy Framework issued in July, instructed local authorities to “facilitate” onshore oil and gas developments, including shale gas. The Framework said these developments had benefits in helping the UK move to a low carbon economy.

But Professor Anderson said:

“Fossil fuels are by their nature high carbon energy sources with natural gas (almost identical to shale gas) comprising 75% carbon by mass, and consequently emitting large quantities of carbon dioxide once combusted.”

He added:

“Shale gas is a high-carbon energy source.

“It would be erroneous to regard any fossil fuel as ‘low carbon’”.

Failing to meet carbon budgets

Professor Anderson’s argument on the Ellesmere Port scheme centers on a warning by the CCC that the UK is unlikely to meet its carbon budgets for 2023-2027 and 2028-2032. These were set under the Climate Change Act which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of levels in 1990 by 2050.

The budgets were based on limiting warming to 2 degrees C. But since then, the UK has committed to the Paris Climate Agreement, which seeks to reduce emissions further so that temperature rise would be restricted to 1.5 degrees C.

A report in October 2018 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy and other systems.

Professor Anderson said in his evidence to the inquiry:

“The UK’s Paris 1.5 degrees C commitment, informed by the 2018 IPCC 1.5 degrees C special report, puts such tight constraints on the UK’s available carbon budget, that, under any reasonable criteria, new hydrocarbon developments are very difficult indeed to reconcile with the UK’s contribution to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C.

“If the UK is to meet its Paris temperature and equity commitments, there will need to be a reduction in the UK’s domestic carbon budgets.”

CCC reportThe CCC reported in 2016 that shale gas development at scale in the UK was incompatible with our climate targets unless three tests were met.

These required: strict limits on emissions during site operations; shale gas must displace imported gas, rather than increase consumption; and production emissions must be incorporated into carbon budgets.

IGas said it proposed to use acidisation, rather than fracking, to exploit the gas at Ellesmere Port.

But in greenhouse gas terms, the impacts are very similar, Professor Anderson said. On the CCC’s three shale gas tests, he said:

 “Suffice it to say that none of those tests has yet been met.”

He added that there was “very little scope” for offsetting shale-related emissions in other sectors, given that the UK was likely to miss its fourth and fifth carbon budgets.

“Add to this the high likelihood that the CCC will recommended tightening the UK’s domestic carbon budgets to align with Paris, suggests there will be vanishingly few opportunities for offsetting, and consequently the CCC’s third test will not be met.”

  • The public inquiry is due to open on Tuesday 15 January at 10am, Assembly Room, Chester Town Hall, Northgate Street, Chester CH1 2HJ. Planning Inspectorate page for the inquiry It is scheduled to run until 23 January (not sitting on Monday 21 January). DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the hearings.

26 replies »

  1. They conform much better than importing gas from overseas, which the UK is currently doing, and will be doing for many years.

    If this is “expert opinion”, then some people are being taken for mugs. The majority of them, who turned up their gas heating over the last week, are not.

  2. Only in N.Korea iaith! (Or, if you are an anti driving around in a BMW diesel.)

    Meanwhile, in the UK we continue to use gas, much of it imported, and all of the new build housing in my area is being fitted with gas boilers. Those who want to live off grid, or another way-good luck to them. But, it is what the majority do that will make a difference to climate change. So, whilst we are using gas, why transport it half way round the world increasing emissions, risking a maritime disaster and losing tax revenue that could actually help develop alternative energy sources? Simply to satisfy a few will not cut it.

    • Yellow vest protest, and some without, spreading across the world, countries restricting yellow vest sales?

      Restricting yellow vest sales? Talk about trying desperately to slam the door after the horses have bolted? Perhaps Ineos Cuadrilla Igas/Angus et al could set up a new rip off and overcharge people for their own stores of yellow vest?

      They have lots of outlets in rural isolated spots doing nothing else, so they might as well profit from the situation, no change there, provided of course the prospective buyers only stand on the verge?

      Such fun!

      Always a pleasure!

      Have a nice day!

    • Uk shale gas. Proposing to make LNG workers unemployed and risking our trade deals with countries that supply us, producing more unemployment and losing revenue for the country.

      That said I don’t think that after 8 years and no shale gas the threat to our largest modern LNG terminal in Europe is and always will be zero.

      Pro frackers should try and source their gas from companies that don’t use LNG. It would be hypocritical not to. If they are keen to avoid LNG and want to actually help develop alternative renewable energy sources they could pick up the phone and do so. Plenty of renewable energy providers to choose from.

  3. Trade deals are not barter, John. You trot out that they are time after time as if it is a correct statement but anyone who has sold or bought internationally knows that is not the case. I have traded in many countries around the world and when I did I looked for payment, not goods in return. The buyers I worked with bought from many countries around the world, and never supplied goods only payment.

    Now that Donald has presided over self sufficiency for gas/oil in USA then all USA arms sales to Middle East will cease? Get real.

    If shale gas threat will be zero, why do you find a need to post?

  4. And Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Iran does conform?
    You either import Oil or produce it.
    We will need oil for decades still, while we will be changing our economy to move away from fossil fuels.

    • Greta says it succinctly and perfectly, perhaps its about time we turned our back on the insanity of greed and corporate politics and listened to the children such as Greta before it is too late for her and us to do anything about it.

      Was this a road to Damascus moment Paul? Because if you agree with Greta and we have been discussing just this subject for eight years, and this is exactly what many of us have been saying, then i fail to see why we have disagreed at all?

      Do we agree now?

      • We agree that she is correct – who wouldn’t agree?

        However where we don’t seem to agree is that we (the global population) are going to continue to use fossil fuels on an increasing scale for many years to come (as forecast by just about every official body) and that this increasing demand is due to expanding middle classes, consumerism, and population growth. Human nature unfortunately taking it’s course; greed and corporate politics continue to run the world. All the things rightly highlighted by Greta as “bad”.

        We also disagree on the technical aspects and risks of oil and gas well drilling and the levels of impact attached to these but those are minor local issues compared to the big picture.

        What we need is a viable alternative. But still nothing realistic preoposed. All we hear is stop this, stop that etc or this will happen. But this and that need to be replaced with something or we will continue as we are and “this” will happen.

        • Then we dont agree Paul, you know perfectly well i have proposed many perfectly reasonable alternatives, but with the Big Oil and Gas monopoly excluding everything by influencing governments with lobbying, bribes and funding, falsifying and hiding the scientific climate change predictions from 1976 onwards, and buying up and burying the many many discovered alternatives, not to mention burying the inventors, funding academic institutions to only publish redacted or modified papers, and so on and so onthere can be no progress towards the perfectly viable alternatives?

          Where are the academic studies being done in renewable alternatives? And even then governments like our own promote exclusively fossil fuel paymasters and close down funding and tax support on all the others, solar, wind and tidal, electromagnetic, there is the real bounty, its constant and has been for billions of years.

          Surface grown biomass and biofuels instead of 500 million year old non renewable fossil gas, The Germans developed synthetic oil, they had to, now most of the military use synthetic products and commercial is going that way too,

          New advances in bladeless wind power, tidal power, the atmosphere provides almost constant velocities high above the surface, aerial platforms and bladeless technology, the same in the oceans, constant oceanic currents flow all the time, temperature differentials produce free energy, just plates in the ocean bed and hot water ponds at the surface, free energy, no moving parts, storage is coming on by leaps and bounds, flywheel technology on frictionless bearings, the atmosphere is positively charged and the earth is negatively charged, Nikola Tesla discovered that over 100 years ago, simple and free energy.

          In ten years we could transform the entire planets energy provision and exploration for yet more possibilities, but it ain’t gonna happen with the stick in the mud attitude you express here, that is for sure.

          But as usual i say all these things but nothing will happen if there is not the will to do so, all you show i am afraid, is there is no will to explore the possibilities and that is very sad.

          Greta is right, if the is no will to change, then change will not happen.

          No, Paul, we dont agree at all.

          • What a powerful message Greta; brought a tear to my eye.

            And the reality; it can only be done by the people, because those who pertain to represent the people only represent their own interests; rock on Greta!

          • So Phil C, [edited by moderator] which of the green technologies actually available today you use. Do you drive an electric car? Do you heat your home with a ASHP or GSHP or Biomass bolier? Do you have solar panels or solar hot water heating system. A wind turbine? Do you buy your electricity from a fully renewable supplier? Before preaching to the rest of us, is your own house in order?

            • The same blinkered approach that sees a natural disaster as always related to climate change, but ignore what is needed to recover from a natural disaster. Somehow the ‘dozers, chain saws, generators, pumps, helicopters etc. etc. are out of the view as are the downed power cables.

            • Whoops! Touchy touchy! Here we go again, i was talking to Paul Tresto…..”David S”……not the usual emergency step in AI sink plunger death ray diplomacy anti anti conspiracy theorists such as yourself, if you want to know about that pathetic epithet i would be only too pleased to provide you with factual links……….

              Perhaps you yourself should put your own hot house in order before this pathetic personal attack strategy on anyone for daring to highlight the perfectly rational renewal alternatives that have been ignored and deliberately sidelined and defunded and disincentivised in favour of the compromised government fossil fuel paymaster obsession you clearly represent

              Rather than drilling for 500 million year old fossil oil and gas and destroying and poisoning communities health and air and water and land,and fatally damaging the Earth’s ability to maintain a stable liveable climate for ourselves and future generations such as represented by Greta and billions more.

              Please provide factual links to explain how Greta would welcome your comments as an excuse to continue the fossil fuel insanity that threatens her and all of us.

              You better explain that to my children and grandchildren too, they would be only too pleased to engage with you with great forcefulness on the subject of stealing their future from them.

              [Edited by moderator]

            • Yes Sherwulfe we must start with ourselves, but perhaps we should also drag these fossil fuel recidivists into the light of day too, clearly Greta is talking to blank stony faces there.

            • My house is well in order Phil C. I drive an electric car (BMW i3) and have done since 2015. My home is heated via an ASHP (Danfoss DHP-A) installed in 2010. I purchase my electricity from Good Energy on their EV Driver 2 tariff and charge my car overnight at the cheaper rate. I have 6 Solar PV panels on my roof and would have liked to have had more but the roof configuration does not allow it. I have triple glazed windows throughout and wool based insulation in my loft spaces. My walls are 2 feet thick stone which do not have a cavity so could not be insulated. I insisted that the extension to my house, built in 2010, had double the insulation (80mm instead of 40mm) installed in the pitched roof. The extension has underfloor heating which works better with the ASHP. I have investigated the possibilty of installing a wind turbine, but unfortunately the sheltered position of my house means the benefit of such a system cannot be justified in relation to the installation cost. I am also 8n the fortunate position of owning 15 acres of mixed broadleaf woodland, which in addition of being a haven for the local wild life, also helps to offset my carbon footprint which I sustain during my occasional foreign flights. So please refrain from lecturing me to ‘explain that to my children and grandchildren too, they would be only too pleased to engage with you with great forcefulness on the subject of stealing their future from them.’ I am personally doing my bit – my question still stands – what are you doing with technology currently available in December 2018?

  5. So the Prof cites CCC report 2016, and the three tests regarding shale gas. (why he is doing this is odd seeing as thes is not a shale gas well).

    Did he not see the Government reply?

    Click to access CCC_Response_new_template_FINAL.pdf

    Is he not aware of the regulations which were published shortly after this that must have complied with the CCC concerns?

    Click to access LIT_10495.pdf

    …. and did he not look at the 2018 report to Parliament where a 43% reduction in GHG related power generation emissions was noted. Gas played a crucial role in backing up renewables.

  6. Given They are so concerned about greenhouse emissions if we disconnect the cas supply to all the protesters homes that should be enough to negate the effect of igas testing. problem solved LoL

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