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the frack thread
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:09 pm    Post subject: the frack thread Reply with quote

People

Your views on fracking please; from a UK or Irish perspective especially.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of people worry about trivial and local things like water pollution and earthquakes and other NIMBYisms but the real issue is that anything that allows us to put more CO2 into the air hastens our demise.

(That's 'trivial' in a relative sense, you understand.)
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to the (relatively) trivial, I can't say I like the combo of possible earthquakes in Morecambe Bay and the proximity of Heysham power station (and Sellafield, come to that). Just a thought.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started off seeing this as a storm in a tea cup. I did not htink we would find much shale gas in this country, and it would have little impact on either supply, pollution or CO2 emissions. At best it would offset decline in offshore production a little.

After the evidence from Mobbsey on the number of wells needed to be drilled, and improved reserves estimates, and the level of atmospherice methane releases from the well heads in all gas drilling, it seems to me that the stakes are somewhat higher.

I cannot see this country not drilling as much of the gas as the regulators will let them, so I see the need for strict environmental controls and monitoring, a bit like fish quotas, but pollution quotas. Only so much methane escape per month, over the limit and you are shut down.
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SleeperService



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they'll ride roughshod over enviromental (or any other) concerns and drill where they want, deny there'll be any side effects and then fight like hell in the courts when said side effects inevitabily occur.

The energy will be a LOT more costly than they say.

In the end everybody will just wish they'd left it in the ground.

I also like the idea of experimenting within effective range of Sellafield. Overconfidence perhaps Confused
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RalphW wrote:
pollution quotas. Only so much methane escape per month, over the limit and you are shut down.

What's the limit? Surely the only safe one is 'Zero extra greenhouse gas added'.

Which means no shale gas exploitation at all.


(BTW from the geological perspective, I don't honestly see any possibility of fracking-induced earthquakes in Lancashire affecting Sellafield. Let's concentrate on real issues rather than imaginary ones.)
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will happen, every where, the blindness of the green lobby will set us back a generation and it will be squandered as North Sea gas was.
But we'll get cheaper gas again.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DominicJ wrote:
It will happen, every where, the blindness of the green lobby will set us back a generation and it will be squandered as North Sea gas was.

Given that the volumes of gas they've talked-up don't exist, I doubt it.

DominicJ wrote:
But we'll get cheaper gas again.

As many shale and coalbed gas operations in the USA are hardly making any return on the investment, and land/equipment prices are still rising, that again is a doubtful outcome. Gas prices must rise or the current operators will go bankrupt -- at which point the majors would wade in, buy up the assets, and resume production with higher prices.

What I do agree about is that the environment movement in its current disposition isn't going to make much headway because they can't accept the inevitable -- that they are limits, and it's those limits that will determine the outcome. Mainstream environmentalism wants to be consumer friendly because it needs affluent supporters. What they need to understand instead is the difference between a 'predicament' and a 'problem'; and that their talk of solutions to 'problems' is irrelevant when in fact these problems are insoluble predicaments within our current social and economic systems.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mobbsey, taking your statement, 'there are limits, and it's those limits that will determine the outcome' and maybe re-shaping your meaning: do you think that the limits of conventional fossil fuels are now determining that fracking will take place?
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
A lot of people worry about trivial and local things like water pollution and earthquakes and other NIMBYisms but the real issue is that anything that allows us to put more CO2 into the air hastens our demise.

(That's 'trivial' in a relative sense, you understand.)


I understand completely.

Of course, you and I realise that climate change will not be the issue in the stand-offs. It will be tacked on to the end of fracking opponents' arguments but all battles will be fought in the field of the immediate and visible and the easy. And, as you say, the relatively trivial.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RalphW wrote:
I started off seeing this as a storm in a tea cup.


Indeed, in some areas it will be. In all areas being explored, the companies involved will be desperate to attract investors, so resources will be talked up, as per previous bubbles.

Of course, as time goes on and extraction of conventional oil inexorably declines, more resources will become economic.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
do you think that the limits of conventional fossil fuels are now determining that fracking will take place?

Not just fossil fuels. E.g., even if we solve the fossil fuels in food supply problem, there's the issue of phosphate rock depletion; even if we solve the carbon in power supply issue, many of the alternative options are dependent upon finite mineral resources; even if we invent new 'super-technologies', especially something like nano-tech, those technologies have a lower energy return because of the higher-spec. materials involved.

That political parties don't get this I can understand -- they're so wedded to the existing economic process that they can't understand the nature of the problem without invalidating their entire political and philosophical outlook. Likewise many corporate interests, perhaps with the exception of those who want to make a quick buck of picking over the carcass of industrialism. In contrast, you'd thing the public interest campaigns would "get" this issue, but they don't because of the economic forces that have shaped their development over the last couple of decades.

The mainstream environmental campaign groups have an even bigger limitation -- credibility. They put so much emphasis on the difference between themselves and the "hair shirt" brigade during the 1990s, supporting ideas such as sustainable consumption or green growth, that they're going to find it very difficult finding their way bak to that ideological outlook, whilst retaining their credibility. Now we're at the stage where those same contraction-oriented/less intensive lifestyle options are the only viable solution to the present-day energy and resource predicament, it involves such an about-face that they'll look like mugs.

In that context they'd do well to study the former 'National Society for Clean Air'. That was originally the Coal Smoke Abatement Society formed in 1898, which became the NSCA in the 50s, and latterly became 'Environmental Protection UK' in the 90s. It was a membership organisation which, as membership began to drop in the 70s/80s, switched towards more government and corporate sources of funding -- and as a result began to reflect a more mainstream/corporate agenda, which only worsened the membership situation as the public interest credentials of the organisation slipped. As a result of local authority, government and corporate funding cuts, they're now left without sufficient support for the scale of the organisation which supped from the corporate-friendly trough of the 1990s. In November they announced that, as of March this year, they're closing down.

Other campaign groups would do well to learn from this sorry tale. I've been involved, in a couple of cases up to board level, with a number of campaign groups. They're all, from Friends of the Earth to the Rambler's Association, reliant on funds from corporate donors and local/national government grants. For example, look at CAT -- a walk around CAT these days, and the corporate logos displayed there, shows the level of corporate infiltration into their funding, and of course they make a lot of their funding from educational work with is largely structured around the needs of corporate training/qualifications.

As the economy contracts over the next few years all these organisations will experience a large bite on their finances, and that might imperil their existence. What they need to re-learn is the value of being small, simple and regional, and largely knowledge/skills based rather than amassing the resources required to look like "professional" organisations. That's a hard lesson to learn -- and I'm not sure if the people involved with many of these groups have the personal skills and philosophical outlook to deal with the process of downscaling their operations to a more sustainable/public interest oriented level.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mobbsey, I enjoyed your answer though it was possibly to a different question!

I liked this line particularly:

mobbsey wrote:
Now we're at the stage where those same contraction-oriented/less intensive lifestyle options are the only viable solution to the present-day energy and resource predicament


and therein lies what no-one wants to hear. By no-one, I mean all but one-in-a-million. 70 million people in the UK, meaning 70 individuals who accept what you say. Possibly a few more, but not many.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
therein lies what no-one wants to hear

Makes no difference what people want to hear -- nature doesn't negotiate! Rolling Eyes

Therein lies the shale gas issue too. It doesn't matter what people say, the different physical parameters of the process mean that it will never substitute for conventional gas supplies -- either in scale or cost. The process and its economics are not compatible with the existing system, which means the system must change (e.g. prices, and the effect that has on the economy) as a result.
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mobbsey
But that doesnt appear to be the case in the US.

http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/01/05/3638223/ample-supply-of-us-natural-gas.html

Where new gas supplies from shale, and lack of export capacity, have forced gas down 75% in three years.
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