Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Shale gas in the news this week

A fairly low-effort post this week, as I have just arrived back from the annual AGU conference in San Francisco. While it was interesting to compare the differences between AGU, which is a very academic conference, and the more industry-centered conferences which I more typically attend, it seems I went at a bad time, because shale gas has been all over the news in the last couple of weeks.

Firstly, we saw about 300 people erect a mock drill rig outside parliament in protest about shale gas extraction. Does 300 sound like a lot? Not sure. Hundreds of thousands once protested about the Iraq war, to little effect....

Meanwhile, the Independent reported that 60% of the UK countryside could be exploited for shale gas. However, DECC were quick to rubbish that statement.

Andrew Rawnsley wrote about how poor the UK's shale prospects are, unilaterally declaring that UK shales are the thinnest in Europe, despite the fact that the Bowland shale is in fact remarkably thick. The fact that this hasn't been corrected on the website version of the article is fairly shocking to me. Especially given that the piece comes up with a new term: 'frack-heads'.
Believers in shale gas have a tendency to rave about it as if they are using a mind-bending substance. So I suggest we call them frack-heads.
Fairly offensive from a main-stream journalist, especially from one who has gotten his facts completely wrong with respect to the main premise of the article.

I've never used mind-bending substances, but we've found a new chief frack-head who certainly looks as though he might have: Boris Johnson has waded straight into the middle of the fracking debate. Turning a phrase as only BoJo, love him or hate him, can:
Beware this new technology, they wail. Do not tamper with the corsets of Gaia! Don’t probe her loamy undergarments with so much as a finger — or else the goddess of the earth will erupt with seismic revenge
Of course, as I've mentioned before, James Lovelock, the inventor of Gaia theory, is actually hugely in favour of shale gas.

Meanwhile the EU parliament has taken it upon itself to regulate our moves towards shale gas exploitation. I'll admit to not being particularly pro-EU at the best of times, but sometimes they really don't help themselves do they?

So why all the palaver? Well, George Osborne has revealed a new gas strategy, promoting domestic gas extraction and the construction of new gas fired power plants. My only issue with this: we shouldn't be giving tax breaks to shale gas companies - we should take our full slice of the money they make and use it to benefit the economy!


  1. Shale gas drilling must be stop and replaced with clean energy, we must think about our future generation

    Posted by http://www.gascooktop2.blogspot.co.uk/

    1. Nice, insightful piece of analysis Cooktop. And how do you go about doing this? Long on ambition, short on facts I'm afraid.....

  2. Dr JV - do you agree with what Boris wrote then? Do tell!

    1. As ever, things are a little more complicated than the likes of Boris can handle, much as I love his turn of phrase. Some things he mentions I agree with, for example, shale gas has slashed US energy costs while reducing CO2 emissions. And why the EU Parliament feels the need to weigh in I do not know.

      However, Boris is as ever a little gung-ho for my tastes. We should look to exploit our shale gas deposits. However, we should do so in a cautious and safe manner, rather than a free-for-all as we have seen in some parts of the US. Moreover, we should continue to promote renewable sources of energy, and energy efficiency so that we use less energy overall.

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