Industry

Cuadrilla hints at a long game for UK fracking

1907 Francis Egan Cuadrilla Resources

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

Lancashire shale gas will take longer to exploit than expected but the potential value remains, Cuadrilla’s chief executive told an Australian business newspaper today.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Francis Egan said:

“The commercialisation of that resource is undoubtedly going to take longer than anyone would have liked or probably would have anticipated at the beginning of it.

“It may not be in the next 12 months, it might not even be in the next 24 months, but the value of it is still potentially very significant.”

There have been few published interviews with Mr Egan since the UK government imposed a moratorium on fracking in England in November 2019.

This followed a series of earth tremors caused by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. The largest tremor, measuring 2.9ML, was the largest UK fracking induced seismic event and was felt across the region.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation said the interview was “attempting to give a glimmer of fluffy hope to investors”.

“Only a few people left”

Since the moratorium, key staff have left Cuadrilla and equipment has been cleared from Preston New Road.

Mr Egan told Hans van Leeuwen, Australian Financial Review’s Europe correspondent:

“There were 50 or 60 people on the site, now there’s nobody on the site. The site is de-manned, there’s no equipment there. It is visited periodically just to make sure the two wells that have been drilled there are OK.

He said head office numbers had also been cut:

“There are only a few people left. We still have technical presence but the overhead has been drastically reduced.”

This would allow Cuadrilla to wait for a potentially critical change in market conditions, he said.

Prices had fallen because of an oversupply of gas and the UK could import gas cheaply, he said:

“As long as there’s a gas glut in the world it’s easy to turn a blind eye and just import your supply. The UK is still importing half our gas needs and it’s easy to do that, but it may not always be easy to do that.

“Typically, that cycle lasts about two or three years, and then you start to see the impact as the existing production declines and the new production doesn’t come behind it to fill the gap”.

Cuadrilla reported in November 2019 it had completed a flow test on the second well at Preston New Road and was carrying out an extended pressure build up test. Planning permission for fracking at the site expired in November 2019. Without a new planning application, the site must be returned to farmland by August 2023.

The company has said it is working with regulators and the shale gas industry to demonstrate that it can frack safely. It has also called for a relaxation of the regulations on induced seismicity, which require operations to pause if fracking causes earth tremors of 0.5ML or above.

Mr Egan said in the interview:

“We’re looking at ways you could modify the operations to prevent any felt seismicity.”

But he said:

“There’s one set of rules for fracking and a completely different set of rules for pretty much every other industry in the UK.”

He acknowledged in the interview, however, that “this argument hasn’t been accepted so far”.

Mr Egan “should concede defeat”

Claire Stephenson, of Frack Frack Lancashire, which has opposed Cuadrilla’s operations, said:

“Mr Egan is attempting to give a glimmer of fluffy hope to investors, although we’re not really sure what support his hope will ever achieve in reality.

“Fracking has never made any financial or business sense, with the recent bankruptcy from pioneering company Chesapeake, dominating shale gas news as the latest fracking collapse.

“With regards to the UK and its failed fracking past, Mr Egan should concede defeat. The focus needs to be on a renewable energy future, not digging around in the dirt for more unburnable fossil fuels.”

Susan Holliday, of Preston New Road Action Group, said:

“Mr Egan is clearly trying to reassure his investors.

“He does not mention that before any further fracking can take place at Preston New Road he needs the UK government to lift the moratorium, the OGA to understand the seismic events from last August and give the go ahead again and Lancashire County council to extend the planning permission with regards to fracking and drilling operations which expired last November.

“He should give up gracefully and restore the site back to a green field now, that will avoid any further distress and disruption to our local community.”

Australian control

During 2020, all statements about Cuadrilla have come from AJ Lucas, the Australian mining group. It took control of Cuadrilla in February 2020 when it acquired a 45% stake owned by Riverstone, a New York based private equity firm.

Last month, AJ Lucas predicted that the moratorium would be lifted, but not be before 2021. It was responding to a comment by the UK energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, that “fracking is over” and that the government had “moved on”.

Last week, AJ Lucas announced that Centrica, a partner in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire operation, had pulled out of the licence.

73 replies »

  1. ““We’re looking at ways you could modify the operations to prevent any felt seismicity.””
    You could do that. By compulsory purchasing all houses in a 30 mile radius, leave them empty apart from gasfield workers, then frack your heart out.

    ““There’s one set of rules for fracking and a completely different set of rules for pretty much every other industry in the UK.””

    Er, yes, no other industry deliberately causes earthquakes ya numpty. No other industry has an EROEI of less than one. No other industry pours acid or other toxic chemicals into the water basin on the scale that fracking does. No other industry uses billions of dollars of money to make millions of dollars of gas/oil, to paraphrase Tim Watkins.

    Begone Egan, get out, get over it and go and retire to do something beneficial for the planet, and less stressful to yourself, such as tending your garden.

    • Mark, maybe you should spend a few moments researching the water industry and its practice of pouring Hydrochloric acid, Sodium hypochlorite and corrosion inhibitors into chalk aquifers in the UK and most of Europe.

      There is also the Enhanced Geothermal Energy industry and it’s record on seismic activity that may be of interest.

      However you are correct to point out that the UK Shale gas industry works to different rules, Shale gas fracking is subjected to a Traffic Light System for seismicity, Geothermal energy projects in the UK are not.

    • Francis Egan still showing as active Director of 12 Cuadrilla companies. If it had been about gas why wouldn’t you have drilled your first well miles away from any obstacles or resistance to prove the potential?
      Tough luck investors.

  2. Yes Mark, in the words of the FBI in a recent case, Egan should now just ”slither away” and leave Lancashire in peace.

  3. “Fracking has never made any financial or business sense!!”

    OMG.

    If that is the best the antis can offer, they really do live on another planet. That is just Wonderland nonsense.

    • Whitehall’s spending watchdog found that attempts to establish fracking in the UK had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far, without producing any energy in return.

      • Dr Rugman – please advise a breakdown of the £32m? It will be interesting to see how this wasted money was spent. Of course £32 million is an insignificant amount of money when compared to other failed projects:

        “Abandoned NHS IT system has cost £10bn so far – Bill for abortive plan, described as ‘the biggest IT failure ever seen’, was originally estimated to be £6.4bn”

        https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn

        And I expect you may be a big fan of Renewables?

        Compliance by licensed electricity suppliers and scheme value year ending March 2019:

        107.64 million Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) were presented by suppliers. This was 84.34% of the total obligation of 127.62 million ROCs, and a slightly lower proportion in comparison to the 87.6% presented for the 2017-18 obligation year.
        This resulted in the largest buy-out and late payment funds ever recorded on the scheme – totalling over £846.9 million.
        Each ROC was worth £55.04, leading to a scheme value of £5.9 billion.

        https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/renewables-obligation-ro-annual-report-2018-19

        I expect you are also aware that this is an annual event for pre CFD contracts and that ROCs are earned in ADDITION to the market sales price of the electrcity and also paid by the consumer. Currently wholsale electricity prices are around £25/MWhr. A nice little earner to have an aditional £55.04 courtesy of us for each MWhr?

    • Martin, fracking on the Fylde, like most of the shale areas of the UK, makes no financial sense because at an industrial level it would permanently destroy the traditional businesses found in such areas, namely farming, tourism and the linked businesses they require for their workers.
      The best however we have to offer at the moment is that the streams of Hydrofrac Earthquakes that have rattled across the Fylde cannot be anticipated, prevented or controlled. Cuadrilla had 8 years following their test fracking was first halted at Preese Hall to rectify this situation but failed miserably.
      I have a feeling however that worse may be to come when the effects of even more releases of gaseous fracking by-product are measured.

    • The comment that I was referring to, late reaction, encompassed the USA. Perhaps you should just read it again?

      Too hasty, old chap. Perhaps you want to change some more English so USA is UK?

      So, what happens in USA is not the same as UK. That removes most of the anti “fears”. What happens in USA may be different to UK in terms of economics, so only way to tell is to conduct the full and appropriate tests in UK! You are beginning to make Mr. Egan’s case for him.

        • Well, at least you can see where Chesapeake is now, old thing. Takes two goes, but better late than never.

          What it looks like to you, old thing, is no surprise.

          What it looks like to others, is somewhat more important:

          “Well over half of the total business investment since 2008 has been in and around the shale industry. It’s been a key element in the revival of manufacturing in the Midwest. If you take all the jobs measured, direct and indirect, it’s created over 2 million jobs.”(IHS Markit)

          Or, you could take another look at Sir Jim’s letter to the EU explaining how their energy policy was precluding the new chemical plants, whilst other countries like the USA were building them by the hundreds thanks to their development of fracking, and so creating new jobs and much more environmentally friendly chemical plants? (Probably still on the INEOS website.)

          I have yet to find any industrial sector where it is unusual for some companies to thrive and others not. Maybe you think that unusual? Maybe you don’t, but you think there may be some who don’t recognize that?

            • What nonsense!

              The list is pretty extensive. You could start with Shell. Or Exxon.

              Survive interest rates rising? Why would interest rates rise? They might one day, by which time oil/gas prices are very likely to have done the same, continuing the current pattern. Supply/demand/price equation will take care of that. Plus, the demand from those who favor 3litre diesels to puff around photographing ladies undies hanging on a fence. Very conspicuous consumption. But, each to their own.

              (Who received the £5k photo prize? Surely not yourself?)

              Until that time, US oil and gas will get the support it needs. That’s what happens when 12 million jobs are at stake. Doesn’t mean all companies will survive, but it’s a jungle out there, and many sectors in that jungle will not receive the same level of support!

              You have a lot of questions, reaction, but you really should already know the answers. They are pretty obvious. But keep on asking the questions, and I shall try and help you out-and demonstrate you don’t have the answers.

              Perhaps you believe the USA will go back to receiving body bags from the Middle East protecting a resource they have no need of? Not going to happen, so others will be able to do their bit. But, they won’t. So, that protection will have gone and the market will likely reflect it in higher prices in years to come as supplies from that area become less stable. And those who have previously stated that there is no problem importing oil and gas to the UK will just stay quiet, whilst others will regret not securing the UK from those factors when they could have.

              • Golly! Exxon with their increasing leverage had better hope you are better at forecasting interest rates than you are at answering questions!

                Surely you are aware that fracking was never going to “secure the UK” against anything. By the time they ramped up production to even the limited levels they were forecasting it would have been curtains because of climate change mitigation commitments. The industry’s own modelling showed it to be just a flash in the pan. Their PR does seem to have taken in a few vociferous dullards who don’t do maths or business modelling though.

                [Edited by moderator]

                • Oh dear!

                  So, you were unable to show that fracking in USA has not been an economic success-not for all, but for many. (The comment included in Ruth’s summary above, which was the subject that I was referring to, and correcting.)

                  Don’t feel guilty about becoming tangential, old thing. Or, if you do, maybe best not to highlight it. The comment was still incorrect. Nothing has changed.

                  Those vociferous dullards who don’t do maths or business modelling? You mean like Sir Jim? Oh. I am sure you are so much better at those things than he is, and we will see you appear on the Rich List very shortly. Lowering the “knowledge” bar will make it possible for you to do that!

                  Fantasy worlds with their fantasy figures. The Internet is full of them.

                  Interesting quotation seen recently:

                  “People use fantasy to escape from their normal lives. They believe that their lives are humdrum and boring, never realizing what an enormous gift it is to be alive at all.”

                  Enjoy your day.

                • Not to worry the Green Party will make everything alright, empower huge employment, enrich the treasury, keep the country in the black! Atleast we have green fields, 🙄

                • …and some people use internet comments pages to wibble and to escape from their normal lives. They believe that their lives are humdrum and boring, never realizing what an enormous gift it is to be alive at all.

                  By the way did you see that Monaco Jim is moving production of his new car to Germany. I wonder why that might be Einstein?

                • …. Why is that?, probably because Monaco Jim (as you call him) understands Germany having Europes largest industrial economy its the best fit for the production of his new car, as the anti’s and nimbys of the UK systematically restrict the UK’s industrial economy day-by-day to the benefit of our European neighbours, good luck to our neighbours!
                  My orders is in for the new Ineos Greadier, I understand you are partial to a German vehicle too?,

                  May it also be added we do not design or manufacture renewable infrastructure, we buy these from our European neighbours too…. Oh how the UK lost is way!

                • Actually my bad – it seems Hambach is in France – still it’s still in the EU which will make life so much easier for Brexiteer Monaco Jim. No hypocrisy there eh?

                • I think you will find I have already addressed that one, very delayed reaction! Not too difficult to check that out before you dived in.

                  But, to help you out and save you time:

                  International companies make decisions on where to locate their various bits according to many factors, but one major one is local support.

                  Perhaps a moratorium costing money for one enterprise, after that enterprise has made investment, makes it easy to rethink?

                  If you book a holiday in Bridgend, I should keep quiet about your involvement in that. But, in France, they will probably buy you a drink.

                  Mind you, from my experience, Belgium and Sicily were the most aggressive in that support in the past. Maybe France has caught up, or maybe Sir Jim’s sporting investments in France and Switzerland, compensate.

                • “Perhaps a moratorium costing money for one enterprise, after that enterprise has made investment, makes it easy to rethink?’

                  Ah so Cuadrilla are now responsible for Monaco Jim’s latest manoeuvrings? I see. 😉

                • No, you don’t see, old thing.( Moratorium, not Cuadrilla). As you didn’t see my previous comment about the subject-although you replied to it, called it a “tangent”!!

                  If you remember (lol) Sir Jim reacted to some Minister trying to bounce him into Bridgend and made it clear that would not work. Then, it was discussed behind closed doors and he made the decision. Now, he has looked again, and seems to have made another decision.

                  You can make up your own fantasy, but the reality will be based upon level of support. You could suggest it is to access the EU market without tariffs, but I recall the market for the product was going to be pretty large outside the EU, where tariffs might apply to EU goods.

                • BTW Martin you still haven’t explained the basis on which you expect UK shale companies to be profitable. You always ignore any questions about extraction costs. Is it maybe because the only figures publicly available undermine your cheerleading?

                • BTW, very late reaction, I have never ” expected” UK fracking to be profitable.

                  I have REPEATEDLY pointed out the only way to calculate is to do the required controlled testing. (Don’t think that is avoiding anything.) That has not been completed, and I would very much like to see that completed so the calculation can be made. You do waffle away about things that amuse yourself rather than address the subject.

                  The only “figures available” are not that. They are speculation, the province of Mystic Meg. Your territory, not mine.

                  Tariffs on cars? Hmm. No need to be that expert on that. Just look at the current situation between EU and USA and what has been threatened. It’s called knowledge, old chap.

                • So Martin, you state “I have never ” expected” UK fracking to be profitable.” and “The only “figures available” are not that. They are speculation, the province of Mystic Meg. Your territory, not mine.”

                  So there we have it. You are now admitting that you can’t support an argument that fracking in the UK could ever be profitable, and in the US you can only cite examples of companies that have been successful in spite of, rather than because of fracking. We both know (I hope) that the only way the US fracking specialists keep going is because ultra low interest rates are propping up huge borrowings required by the capital intensive nature of constantly having to bring new wells on stream, and as soon as that changes the waves of bankruptcies we have seen over the years will become a flood. Is that Mystic Meggery? Not really – it’s just having an understanding of the reality of business finance.

As to “the only way to calculate is to do the required controlled testing” – well maybe if they could have managed to HVHF a single well here in the UK without shaking the local community they might have had a chance of being allowed to try that but their 100% failure rate over 9 years means that is unlikely. Until then we’ll just have to do our best with the estimates from the Mystic Megs at the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, Bloomberg Finance, EY and Centrica because Mystifying Martina doesn’t seem to have anything to contribute to that part of the debate.

                  So you can Collywibble all you like, the facts are not on your side. All you have it seem is speculation. At least I can support my analysis with some numbers from reputable sources and a recreation of the industry’s own modelling based on their own chosen parameters.

                  Have a lovely day.

        • Ironic we are importing and using fracked US gas through the benefit of company’s like ineos who are importing it to be used in UK power stations! So what you could say is due to economics we have as a country have contributed to the downfall of Chesapeake Energy, and the US energy industry we have purged due to us brits requiring cheap energy!, did we also calculate the amount of people in the UK who are suffering energy poverty? It’s nice to be privileged, eh Defraction?!?

          • Yes, Eli-G. Seems ship building in the Far East has found the economics of US fracking somewhat to their liking, as well.

          • Eli Froth – you really really have to be cheap to bring up the energy poverty b/s. Even Cuadrilla admitted fracked gas would have no appreciable impact on Aunt Elsie’s gas bill. But we do know how cheap you are. 😉

    • Good evening MARTIN ,

      In the USA, the land of almost ZERO fracking regulations, where almost anything goes.

      They still can’t make it pay .

      With some of the biggest bankruptcies , enviourmental disasters and ongoing health issues as a result of the fracking.

      The evidence continues to show , fracking is nothing more than a debt ridden ponzi scheme .

      If you disagree, please say , I will be delighted to put forward my indisputable evidence.

  4. Please could anyone tell me exactly how the much lauded Traffic Light System of seismic monitoring, red light, stop fracking for events over 0.5 Richter Scale, introduced with great fanfare to prevent stronger earthquakes damaging homes and endangering humans, actually works or should I say doesn’t work?

    The 2019 August Bank Holiday Weekend swarm of Hydrofrac Earthquakes certainly didn’t see the red light and stop at 0.5, that’s for sure!

    A bit like the Traffic Light System of preventing internationa! travellers spreading Covid19 which requires green lights at each end of the journey to enable complete journeys to be completed!

  5. Egan and Co dragging around the dead duck that is uk fracling whilst keeping their paypacket and pacifying investors!

  6. AJ Lucas Group Ltd
    AJL:ASX Actions
    PRICE (AUD) 0.035
    TODAY’S CHANGE -0.004 / -10.26%
    SHARES TRADED 58.23k
    1 YEAR CHANGE -47.19%

    So AJ Lucas shares have fallen by -10.26% following Egan’s statement.
    Perhaps AJL share-holders are not convinced that there will ever be fracking in Lancashire ?

    • [Edited by moderator] How’s business in pharmaceuticals?, I bet you have had more losses than profits!

      • Actually, Peter, it was very relevant.

        The antis want to portray oil and gas companies as doomed due to the current market, which is largely influenced by Covid-19, and will be for some time to come. Eli-G was quite politely pointing to the REALITY that MOST companies are similarly impacted. There are some exceptions and you can find a number of those on Nasdaq, but relatively few and far between. Amazon probably the most obvious.

        Brent Crude back to $43/barrel, which is about $10/barrel higher than I expected it to be at this moment in time. Next level will probably be around $55/barrel but second waves of Covid-19 and certain issues developing in Middle East could adjust the speed of that beyond anyone’s expectations. (Turkey v Russia brewing.)

        Others may just want to gloat about what they want to portray. Can’t let a pandemic go to waste.

  7. It’s fantastic to see that Frances has not been put off by all of the NIMBY scaremongers.

      • But, I suspect he knows the meaning of knowledgeable!

        See that the good folk of Bridgend seem to moving towards more collateral damage.

        That’s the problem with making an environment unattractive. Others pick up the bill, and the business, employment and tax revenue goes elsewhere.

        The “moral” high ground built on the backs of others who suffer the consequences.

  8. Leaking Fracking Wells:

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2241347-fracking-wells-in-the-us-are-leaking-loads-of-planet-warming-methane/#:~:text=Fracking%20wells%20in%20the%20US%20are%20leaking%20loads%20of%20planet%2Dwarming%20methane,-Environment%2022%20April&text=Methane%2C%20also%20known%20as%20natural,that%20gas%20into%20the%20atmosphere.

    Regarding Preston New Road, Little Plumpton: We request that the process of decommissioning and restoration of the site to agricultural land / pasture is expedited, for the health and safety of local residents, some of whom live as close as 350 meters.

    • Although the headline mentions leaking wells the article seems to suggest that the methane spikes are due to venting. Drawing a comparison to PNR is just the typical scaremongering anti-fracking NIMBYs

      • Simon Maynard:
        About 12.5 percent of the wells in the Alberta database were leaking at the time they were to become operational. More research is needed to look at methane leaks over time as wells age.
        “The failure rate is likely to underestimate the number of wells that will eventually fail and leak, given the clear possibility that they will degrade with age,”
        Research published in June in Science estimated that natural gas wells are leaking 13 million metric tons of methane each year, 60 percent higher that EPA estimates, offsetting much of the climate benefits of burning natural gas instead of coal.
        Montague JA et al Predicting gas migration through existing oil and gas wells
        Environmental Geosciences (2018) 25 (4): 121–132.
        https://doi.org/10.1306/eg.01241817008

        • I’m not sure what this has got to do with fracking although the latter citation is quite an interesting application of data mining techniques. Despite a massive increase in fracking over the last decade there hasn’t been a significant increase in methane emissions in the USA. The Alberta study very much looks like leakage from conventional wells that had poor cement jobs. The 13 million figure is also less than the methane emissions resulting from the burning of biomass.

          • Simon Maynard:
            You state ” Despite a massive increase in fracking over the last decade there hasn’t been a significant increase in methane emissions in the USA.”
            Really ?
            NASA Confirms Methane Spike Is Tied to Oil and Gas. The chemical isotope signature of methane released from fracking is found in the atmosphere, pointing to shale gas operations as the culprit.
            The findings underscore the need for the world to rapidly transition to renewable sources of energy, notably wind and solar power, in order to achieve the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which is to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
            https://unfccc.int/news/nasa-confirms-methane-spike-is-tied-to-oil-and-gas

            https://theconversation.com/a-tenth-of-active-and-abandoned-oil-and-gas-wells-in-northeastern-b-c-are-leaking-127921

            https://thinkprogress.org/nasa-study-fracking-global-warming-0fa0c5b5f5c7/

            High methane-emitting abandoned oil and gas wells Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Nov 2016, 113 (48) 13636-13641; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605913113 https://www.pnas.org/content/113/48/13636

            Assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain Science 13 Jul 2018: Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 186-188 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/186.abstract

            New York Times ”Fracking Firms Fail” (leaving locals the legacy of gas-leaks, fires and toxic benzene)

            • Frank,
              It might be worthwhile reading the links and critically appraising the evidence before you post them. The first link that you sent discusses global methane emissions and is not specific to the USA or a particular part of the fossil fuel industry; it is just a likely to come from the use of coal. The isotopic evidence is non-unique and generally the carbon isotopic composition of methane used by those against fracking to justify their claims of an increase in thermogenic CH4 is very much an outlier. Indeed, recent studies show that the isotopic composition of methane in the atmosphere would be moving in the opposite direction to what is observed if thermogenic methane released from fracking was the cause (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61035-w).

              The second link is about Canada and again neither shows trends in methane emissions or relates the emissions to fracking; the wells that are studied are generally within conventional reservoirs.

              The third link refers to abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, which again given that production from fracked horizontal wells in the Marcellus only took off 2008 it is certainly not the case that the 750,000 abandoned wells have anything to do with fracking.
              The fourth link again presents no evidence that fracking is causing increases in CH4 emissions; the study claims the source of emissions to be storage tanks and vents (i.e. not leaking wells and not fracked wells).

              There are plenty of other studies around, which show that methane emissions by the oil and gas industry in the USA are out-of-sink with the atmospheric concentrations (e.g. https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2453/US-methane-emissions-flat-since-2006-despite-increased-oil-and-gas-activity-study).

              The other thing to watch out for in the news is a study that is soon to be published showing that reclaiming a well pad and turning it back into arable land with 3 sheep in the UK will release more methane than the well itself.

              • Simon,
                Are you saying that no abandoned wells in Pennsylvania have anything to do with fracking ?
                Hydraulically fractured wells may no longer be profitable after just one stimulation, after which they may be abandoned. Improperly abandoned wells may wreak havoc on communities and the environment. The number of improperly abandoned wells has been increasing over time as companies go bankrupt and transfer wells to other companies.

                Regarding ruminant methane: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1352231020301898
                So methane emission from 3 sheep is not quite so convincing, particularly if the well happens to be a high leaking emitter.
                A NASA team showed that about 17 teragrams per year of the increase in methane is due to fossil fuels, another 12 is from wetlands or rice farming, while fires are decreasing by about 4 teragrams per year. The three numbers combine to 25 teragrams a year — the same as the observed increase.

                We need to reduce thermogenic methane now. It is crucial for the world to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, notably wind and solar power, in order to achieve the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which is to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

                • Frank,
                  One gets around 50% of EUR in the first year following completion of a well and then they are typically left to produce for around 20 years or in some cases refractured. The wells in Pennsylvania that have been abandoned are not those wells. Instead, they are the wells that have been drilled in the area since 1821 when the first commercial gas was produced in the state.

                  The study I refer to in terms of volume of gas released from wells vs. the release of gas from three sheep is based on the abandoned wells in the UK; it is currently going through peer review but I’ve seen earlier drafts and it looks totally solid.

                  I don’t see why you differentiate between methanogenic and thermogenic gas given that they have exactly the same impact on the atmosphere.

                  No one is doubting that we need to cut methane emissions but, as someone who spends much of their time working on renewable energy, simply writing the words wind and solar won’t do much without effective energy storage systems. The most effective energy storage system is gravity storage via hydroelectric, which not only very limited in the UK but has killed a massive number of people over the years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hydroelectric_power_station_failures) and creates earthquakes with magnitudes far larger than those generated due to fracking (https://www.internationalrivers.org/dam%E2%80%93induced-seismicity).

                  Even the climate change committee acknowledges that natural gas will be a significant part of our energy mix beyond 2050. The question is not whether we’ll be using methane but where it will be sourced. It seems like you would sooner import that gas from countries with lower environmental standards than those of the UK and using processes that will lead to more GHG emissions [ Edited by moderator]

  9. Many thanks Simon Maynard:
    Yes indeed, close residents at Little Plumpton are understandably equally concerned and anxious about gas-venting as well as possible gas leaking from the well(s).

      • Many thanks Paul Tresto,

        Regarding fracking, apart from fugitive emissions, gas leaks from the well and during gas well development, huge quantities of gas may vent to the atmosphere. For example, during well completion, after a well is fracked, the well-bore and surrounding formation may be cleaned out and gases may be allowed to escape into the atmosphere, or they are burned off (flared). It has been calculated that a single well in Wyoming would emit 115 tons of VOCs, and 4 tons of hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and hexanes.
        Those of us who have contributed to the peer-reviewed scientific literature regarding the toxicity of aromatic hydrocarbons: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC502287/ would never underestimate the potential dreadful impact on human health of VOCs. In particular, benzene is known to induce Myelodysplasia, Aplastic Anaemia (bone marrow failure) and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in humans.

        • Dr Frank: With this fine weather we are having down in the south how much escape gas is being released from the many BBQ’s? Does that not constitute a flare?, or are you more of a coal man?, but we at too distracted and discussing US issues, a’hem the UK is not and will not be the US! Imports of chlorinated chicken or not!

          Just as well we don’t mine cobalt or diamonds in the UK!, there is and would be no chance with this hysteria! Lol

        • “May” Dr Rugman? Or “May not”?

          Last time I checked Wyoming was 7,300 miles away?

          Those of us who have actually worked in the oil and gas industry including drilling, stimulating, completing and testing wells are fully aware of “may” but experience is generally “not” as that is what the industry aspires to and is legislated and enforced (in UK, Europe and many other countries).

          No one doubts the impact on human health of VOCs including those of us who worked / work in the industry. Based on your predictions all of us who worked in upstream oil and gas operations, particularly on small footprint offshore drilling rigs and production platforms, should all be dead now….. Studies (I recall also peer reviewed) of incidences of various cancers undertaken in the North Sea found fairly normal trends in offshore workers.

          • Paul Tresto,
            You state: ”Studies (I recall also peer reviewed) of incidences of various cancers undertaken in the North Sea found fairly normal trends in offshore workers”.
            Your learned evaluation is an Interesting claim for an oil and gas worker ?

            Published: 24 March 2015
            Benzene exposure and risk of lymphohaematopoietic cancers in 25 000 offshore oil industry workers
            J S Stenehjem et al,
            British Journal of Cancer volume 112, pages1603–1612(2015)

            Abstract
            Background:
            The aim of this work was to examine the risk of lymphohaematopoietic (LH) cancer according to benzene exposure among offshore workers.

            Methods:
            Cancer registry data were used to identify 112 cancer cases diagnosed during 1999–2011 in a cohort of 24 917 Norwegian men reporting offshore work between 1965 and 1999. Analyses were conducted according to a stratified case–cohort design with a reference subcohort of 1661 workers. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for other benzene exposure and smoking.

            Results:
            Most workers were exposed to benzene for <15 years. The upper range values of average intensity and cumulative exposure were estimated to 0.040 p.p.m. and 0.948 p.p.m.-years, respectively. Risks were consistently elevated among exposed workers for all LH cancers combined and for most subgroups, although case numbers were small and yielded imprecise risk estimates. There was evidence of dose-related risk patterns according to cumulative exposure for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM) (P trends 0.052 and 0.024, respectively), and suggestively so for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) according to average intensity (P trend 0.094).

            Conclusions:
            Our results support an association between cumulative and intensity metrics of low-level benzene exposure and risk for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, Multiple Myeloma, and suggestively for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

            • Dr Rugman – I found the paper I rememembered reading – also based on Norwegian Offshore workers (same raw data?):

              “Cancer incidence among 41 000 offshore oil industry workers”

              Occupational Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 7, October 2014, Pages 539–545,

              https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/64/7/539/2750752

              Results

              “Among female workers, the total number of cancers was slightly higher than expected (SIR 1.17, 95% CI 1.02–1.34), and excesses of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) (SIR 5.29, 95% CI 1.72–12), malignant melanoma (SIR 2.13, 95% CI 1.41–3.08) and lung cancer (SIR 1.69, 95% CI 1.03–2.61) were observed. Among male workers, the total number of cancer cases was close to that expected (SIR 1.03, 95% CI 0.99–1.08), but cases of pleural cancer (SIR 2.56, 95% CI 1.58–3.91) and bladder cancer (SIR 1.25, 95% CI 1.05–1.49) were higher than expected. Among male workers first employed before 1986, the numbers of observed cancer cases were higher than expected for most sites, while this was not evident among those employed later.
              Conclusions

              Further studies with exposure data and confounder control are needed to address whether the observed excesses of pleural cancer and AML can be attributed to offshore work.”

              The above results indicate to myself, an ex oil and gas worker, that the study “found fairly normal trends in offshore workers”.

              I don’t know of any former industry colleauges who have died from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, Multiple Myeloma, or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. I have recent experience of a work colleauge who has died from an brain tumour which may have been caused from his many years of work handling radioactive sources used in logging tools. Another from throat cancer caused by a lifetime’s excess of alcohol and tobacco. All of my ex-industry colleagues that I keep in touch with are alive and well, mostly retired and enjoying good health and fitness. All worked in upstream oil and gas in drilling / testing / production for 35 years plus. We are not dead yet…..

              When I started in the industry we were using diesel based drilling muds and were told about the potential risks the VOCs / benzenes present in the diesel – hence the requirement for full PPE. The use of diesel was quickly phased out and low toxicity mineral and synthetic fluids used instead. I recall the same happened at filling stations for our motor cars – acceptable levels of VOCs / benzenes were significantly reduced to protect our health.

              • Many Thanks Paul Tresto,
                Lympho-haematopoietic carcinogenicity seems to be related to peak exposure of benzene in a study of chemical workers ?
                Bloemen LJ et al
                Lymphohaematopoietic cancer risk among chemical workers exposed to benzene
                Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2004;61:270-274.
                Lymphohaematopoeitic cancer mortality was examined among 4417 workers at a chemical plant by cumulative and peak benzene exposure. when peak exposures over 100 ppm for 40 or more days were considered, the observed number of all leukaemias (SMR = 2.7, 95% CI 0.8 to 6.4), ANL (SMR = 4.1, 95% CI 0.5 to 14.9), and multiple myeloma (SMR = 4.0, 95% CI 0.8 to 11.7) were greater than expected. While the observed number of deaths is small in this study, the number of peak exposures greater than 100 ppm to benzene is a better predictor of risk than cumulative exposure. The dose rate of benzene and a threshold for exposure response may be important factors for evaluating lymphohaematopoietic risk.

                • Dr Rugman – thanks for your feedback. I think the main issue here, which you would agree with, is the level of exposure to VOCs / Benzene. We both agree it can be bad for our health. The main point I am trying to make is that the exposure is very limited to none existent for offshore oil and gas workers in the last twenty plus years in the North Sea. The exposure at onshore oil and gas sites is even less due to the locations being onshore and less proximity and better legislation. Quantities of various pollutants including VOCs are monitored regularly by the Operator and EA to strict guidelines for onshore operations. If the on site workers are not being exposed how is the public at risk? Quoting a well from the US is not relevant to our situation in the UK. As you and others have pointed out smoking and traffic are much more significant in the causation of the various cancers you have noted. Perhaps residents in the Fylde would be better advised to give up smoking and purchase EVs?

                  By the way I am actually interested in how the £32million of tax payers money was spent on UK fracking – was this Policing costs or direct subsidy to Cuadrilla (the only company to have fracked a shale well in the UK to date)?

                  I also do not believe we will see onshore shale fracking for oil or gas in the UK again – due to seismicity not health issues.

              • As an ex offshore oil and gas worker, (working at the coal face, so to speak!), Dr Rugman you do understand as there is more chance of coming in to contact with a hydrocarbon based product onshore than offshore?, (I.e. breathing in and out when at a filling station, rinsing your paint brushes and living in a you write like we offshore workers look down oil and gas wells breath in and taste the benzene and you are relating the necessary offshore workers as a base case for transition and contraction of many cancers?, these are desperate times when anti’s are coming out with the dreaded “C” to scaremonger people from believing these illnesses are due to hydrocarbon production?, believe me I’m alive and well and I have 100’s of friends and contacts going back over a career of 30 years who are the same, without ever contracting cancers and leukaemia…

                According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (2007), benzene is both an anthropogenically produced and naturally occurring chemical from processes that include: volcanic eruptions, wild fires, synthesis of chemicals such as phenol, production of synthetic fibers, and fabrication of rubbers, lubricants, pesticides, medications, and dyes. The major sources of benzene exposure are tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions; however, ingestion and dermal absorption of benzene can also occur through contact with contaminated water.

                • Thanks Eli-Goth,
                  Yes, of course, I am well aware of the sources of benzene including geogenic etc, etc and of course, cigarette smoking. Indeed I have already made an earlier criticism (4 July) in Drill or Drop, of a study of childhood leukaemia on these grounds:

                  ” Dr Frank Rugman
                  July 4, 2020 at 2:00 pm
                  hewes62: Thank you for your most interesting contribution.

                  Ionising radiation is the only known cause of de-novo acute leukaemia in children, but is unlikely to represent a major causal pathway. Epidemiological studies have suggested a possible role of non-ionising radiation, some chemicals e.g. benzene, and, especially childhood viral infections. What is generally missing from such studies is any insight into the natural history of the disease and the likely timing of key exposures and mutational events

                  The most frequent form of leukaemia in children is ALL (Acute Lymphocytic/ blastic Leukaemia) which is frequently initiated by a chromosome translocation event in utero. Studies in identical twins show however that such an event is insufficient for clinical leukaemia and that a postnatal promotional event is also required.
                  Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is rare in children but more frequent in adults and can be directly caused by benzene. There is often a characteristic preceding myelodysplasia or smouldering leukaemia associated with benzene. Benzene is also a by-product of the combustion of tobacco in cigarettes. Exposure to cigarette smoke accounts for roughly half of all human exposure to benzene in the US.

                  So, in my opinion, this particular McKenzie et al study (cited ref: 82) is flawed, because there was no adjustment for maternal smoking, or documented household exposure to smoking during pregnancy, in the analysis. (Apparently, information on maternal smoking was missing for 59% of the study population). If I had been asked to peer review this paper, I would have insisted that the missing data on smoking was provided, as a sine qua non prior to consideration for publication.

                  It may transpire that following a prolonged latency period, exposure to benzene from fracking, or benzene from the associated diesel traffic, will eventually, perhaps years later, cause some cases of adult myelodysplasia and AML.

                  For now, other peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that living close to active fracking sites increases the likelihood of exacerbation of asthma, premature birth, chronic rhino-sinusitis, migraine headaches, fatigue and maternal stress levels.”

        • Dr Rugman – you possibly missed this? – please advise a breakdown of the £32m? It will be interesting to see how this wasted money was spent. Of course £32 million is an insignificant amount of money when compared to other failed projects:

          “Abandoned NHS IT system has cost £10bn so far – Bill for abortive plan, described as ‘the biggest IT failure ever seen’, was originally estimated to be £6.4bn”

          https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn

          And I expect you may be a big fan of Renewables?

          Compliance by licensed electricity suppliers and scheme value year ending March 2019:

          107.64 million Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) were presented by suppliers. This was 84.34% of the total obligation of 127.62 million ROCs, and a slightly lower proportion in comparison to the 87.6% presented for the 2017-18 obligation year.
          This resulted in the largest buy-out and late payment funds ever recorded on the scheme – totalling over £846.9 million.
          Each ROC was worth £55.04, leading to a scheme value of £5.9 billion.

          https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/renewables-obligation-ro-annual-report-2018-19

          I expect you are also aware that this is an annual event for pre CFD contracts and that ROCs are earned in ADDITION to the market sales price of the electrcity and also paid by the consumer. Currently wholsale electricity prices are around £25/MWhr. A nice little earner to have an aditional £55.04 courtesy of us for each MWhr?

          • And, there were the land owners who were so “supportive” of wind turbines on their land, that the £150k net profit/year each-whether supplying electricity or not-was a mere side show!

            Oh no it wasn’t. I know a number of land owners who hated the things, and just thought it was money for old rope.

      • “The Highview battery will store 250MWh of energy”.

        So Dr Frank how many of these do you need at night in high pressure when there is no wind, no PV and you have turned the gas off? Gas is currently prodicing 16GW and wind 4GW (20:08hrs).

        Lets assume 1 hour – gas producing 16,000 MWhrs. To replace this you need 64 of these “batteries”. For 24 hrs you need 1,536 etc etc.

        This battery is a scientific study and meaningless in the move from gas to renewables.

        Stick to medicine….

  10. Eli-G:

    UK did NOT vote against chlorinated chicken, when the vote was taken many years ago. Not a small consideration as UK and France were the major chicken producers! Now, it would be lactic acid treated. Just like the UK uses with beef.

    So, food poisoning from chicken consumption in US quoted. Ermm-most food poisoning is connected to poor hygiene during food preparation in commercial kitchens. Been known for many years, but conveniently avoided.

    But, as the largest UK chicken producer told me in France when we visited to see what they were on about:

    “It’s just protectionism. I’m going home.”

    But, it is a good story to try and make out the EU must be right and the US wrong-even when the UK did not agree to the decision! Now, we can make up our own minds. I expect our decision will be protective, because UK can not compete on costs.

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