Tag Archives: shale gas

Fracking Britain: without debate, the Government imposes its ‘right to rule’


Anti-fracking protest at Barton Moss - but as far as the Government is concerned, dissent is unimportant. Photo: Manchester Friends of the Earth via Flickr.Anti-fracking protest at Barton Moss – but as far as the Government is concerned, dissent is unimportant. Photo: Manchester Friends of the Earth via Flickr.

The UK Government’s policy is to frack at all costs, against public opinion and compelling evidence of environmental damage and poor returns, writes Paul Mobbs – a timely reminder that as far as the Government is concerned, it has a God-given right to rule over us, no matter what we think or want.

I’m sitting in the café at St. Mary’s Church, Putney . When travelling to London there are a few non-corporate cafés I frequent. Normally Friends House, or few places on the edge of central London.

On my recent travels through London I’ve been trying to get here as it’s a nice place to sit and ponder – with its own unique and prophetic story to tell.

For the past three days I’ve been at the Frack Free South Wales gathering. In Wales I met a lot of people who, just a few months ago, didn’t know about ‘fracking’ and the Government’s project to carve-up the country for hydrocarbons exploration.

Despite an uncooperative and often indifferent mainstream media, we’ve got the message across at the grassroots.

Many more people now know there’s a problem with unconventional energy sources; and that there will be no public debate on its implementation or its impacts upon health and the climate.

Now I’m trying to get people, especially the ‘fractivists’ carrying the movement, to focus on ‘what comes next’ – to be proactive instead of reactive.

What happens next?

The Government’s strongly anti-environmental / pro-fossil fuels agenda has been coming for some time. As I’ve been talking about for a year or so, we just have to trace the influences on policy to see where it’s come from and where it’s heading.

It started with David Cameron’s recruitment of the Australian lobbyist Lynton Crosby – the architect of Cameron’s new policy to “get rid of the green crap”. That grew into a set of policies which made the environment expendable in order to maintain, forlornly, the great mantra of ‘growth’.

To learn more, there are many parallels with the dismantling the ‘green agenda’ in Australia, and also Canada. [update - the day after writing this happened]

What I’ve tried to get people to understand is that we’ve been here before – where social movements sought to oppose a seemingly insurmountable political agenda.

If we want to understand ‘what happens next’ there are two relatively recent examples we can learn from.

The GMO lesson

Firstly, the campaign against genetically modified (GM) crops, the response of the agribusiness lobby, and how that influenced Government policy.

In 1996 I got a list of the sites across Britain where genetically modified crops were being tested from the Health and Safety Executive – and put it on my web site.

A short while later, spontaneously, people started to pull up the crops. One of the groups I subsequently became involved with was genetiX snowball, which drew many influences from the peace movement.

genetiX snowball was a great campaign… Then came the civil injunctions from the High Court. Continue reading

Fracking firm ‘underplayed’ heavy lorries needed for Sussex drilling


Shale gas site picture by DECC

Fracking company Celtique Energie presented data that hugely underplayed the number of heavy lorries needed for its planned drilling operations in Sussex, according to local highway officials. Other experts for the South Downs national park, in which Celtique plans to drill, said the company’s claims about noise were “opaque” and underestimated the increase in noise levels.

Celtique denies submitting misleading environmental statements. But it has sought to delay meetings at which its planning applications are decided while revised statements are put forward. If the delay is not granted, the company has said it will withdraw and re-submit the application, which would drive up planning costs. Ministers have repeatedly stated that the UK has “the most robust regulatory regime in the world for shale gas”.

As part of its planning application, Celtique claimed heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic would increase by 11-13 per cent at its Wisborough Green site, but highway officials from West Sussex council concluded the actual increase would be 50-64 per cent. The council made a similar objection about Celtique’s nearby Fernhurst site, with officials concluding the traffic assessment was not “a realistic or accurate representation”.

“It beggars belief and it is very concerning,” said Marcus Adams, who lives a few hundred metres from the Fernhurst site. “If Celtique can’t even do a traffic survey properly how can they drill safely? The government says we have gold-plated regulation for fracking, but I don’t believe it.”

Simon Clydesdale, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “The pollution and disruption from industrial lorries clogging up small country lanes is one of people’s main concerns about the impact of fracking. This is an area where energy firms should be scrupulously upfront and transparent with local communities. This is a major blow to Celtique’s credibility and their efforts to win the trust of local people.”

A company spokesman said: “Celtique have been very careful not to be misleading. We believe we have been overly cautious in our environmental statements and presented the ‘worst case’ in all areas. Our reputation is important to us as a responsible operator. We are confident this will all be demonstrated soon.”

In September 2013, the chief executive of Celtique, Geoff Davies, said: “We recognise that the vehicle movements associated with the proposals has been a key issue for many.” He said the environmental statements submitted at that time were “comprehensive”. However, the company now says it will submit a new traffic analysis shortly. “Celtique are currently preparing a response to these objections and are confident that the points raised can be adequately addressed in our response,” the spokesman said.

The planning decision meeting for the proposed Wisborough Green well is due to take place on Tuesday, unless Celtique’s request for a delay until September is granted. The main objection raised by West Sussex highways officials centred on the fact that Celtique’s baseline traffic survey had counted any vehicle over 1.5 tonnes as a heavy goods vehicle, despite the official Design Manual for Roads and Bridges giving 3.5 tonnes as the minimum weight of an HGV. “[Celtique's] interpretation and conclusions included 4×4 vehicles, such as a Range Rover, as HGVs which serves to inflate ‘baseline’ figures for existing HGV movements,” the officials said.

The planning decision for Fernhurst was due on 10 July, but has already been delayed to September after West Sussex highway officials made a similar objection. The Fernhurst site lies in the South Downs national park and its governing authority commissioned an expert analysis of Celtique’s environmental statement.

The report concluded: “We have concerns regarding the adequacy of the groundwater and noise assessments and do not believe that these are sufficiently robust to allow the impact to be assessed with an appropriate level of rigour.” The report’s authors said the noise impact calculations were “opaque and not reproducible” and that their own calculations suggested noise “levels exceed the adopted limit, suggesting that those reported in the environmental statement may be underestimates.”

In May, Celtique abandoned plans to drill horizontally out from its Fernhurst site and under other people’s land, but still plans to drill vertical wells.

This article first appeared at the Guardian

News from BusinessGreen.

Fracking: Answers on link between injection wells and quakes


Graphic shows earthquakes in Oklahoma over the past three days; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;Graphic shows earthquakes in Oklahoma over the past three days; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

Oklahoma has recorded nearly 250 small-to-medium earthquakes since January, according to statistics kept by the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s close to half of all the magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes recorded this year in the continental United States.

A study published earlier this month in the journal Science suggests that just four wells injecting massive amounts of drilling wastewater into the ground are probably shaking up much of the state, accounting for one out of every five quakes from the eastern border of Colorado to the Atlantic coast.

Another concern is whether injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures.

Most of the quakes in areas where injection wells are clustered are too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives. Yet they’ve led some states, including Ohio, Oklahoma and California, to introduce new rules compelling drillers to measure the volumes and pressures of their injection wells as well as to monitor seismicity during fracking operations.

 In this June 26, 2014 file photo, Austin Holland, research seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, hangs up a chart depicting earthquake activity at their offices at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.FILE – In this June 26, 2014 file photo, Austin Holland, research seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, hangs up a chart depicting earthquake activity at their offices at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in seismic activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method, especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater, could be to blame. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) Continue reading

The #Telegraph: #Shell sails ahead without UK #shale


Oil and gas giant Shell is not tempted by fracking in Britain.

Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas vessel destined for Australia. Shell sees really strong LNG growth in the longer terms but little gain from fracking in BritainShell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas vessel destined for Australia. Shell sees really strong LNG growth in the longer terms but little gain from fracking in Britain. Photo: SEOKYONG LEE

Shale gas is likely to play an increasingly important role in powering Britain’s growth but don’t expect the country’s largest oil and gas company, Royal Dutch Shell, to help create a fracking-led energy revolution.

Andrew Brown, director of upstream international business and the man responsible for the main revenue-generating side of Britain’s most valuable company, is sceptical about the potential for shale oil and gas development in Britain.

“At the moment the UK position, you know, is not ranking for us,” Brown tells The Sunday Telegraph in an interview in his office overlooking the Thames. “This is a matter of just being disciplined about where we expect to get returns if our exploration is successful.

“It’s a matter of geology, costs, access, you know, it’s a combination of factors that would mean it’s not yet somewhere we would focus on.

“Capital is tight and we need to be very clear about where we want to spend that discretional dollar.”

Read the full story here.

Fracking is not a threat to water supplies in the South Downs


South Downs, Telscombe

A GLOBAL survey states deep fracking is ‘not’ a threat to water supplies in the South Downs.

The British Geological Survey states the risk of water supplies being contaminated in Britain is much lower than in the United States because almost all shale oil and gas is at least 650m below groundwater layers.

Many US homeowners have claimed that their water supply has been contaminated by methane leaks from fracked wells.

But companies in the US targeted shale less than 100m from chalk aquifers, which store water.

The distance to chalk water supply aquifers at the Weald basin in the South Downs is at least 650m.

The survey states that water supplies under the Downs should not be at risk from deep fracking, as long as vertical wells were drilled and ‘sealed safely’.

Dr Alwyn Hart, head of the air, land, and water research team at the Environment Agency, said: “We have strong regulatory controls in place to protect groundwater, and will not permit activity that threatens water and drinking supplies.”

Groundwater from the aquifers in the South Downs provide up to 70 per cent of the drinking water in the South East, making it one of the most important natural resources in the region.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas was among 25 people arrested at Balcombe in August 2013 during anti-fracking protests.

At court she was found not guilty of obstructing a public highway and a public order offence.

Brenda Pollack, south east campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “The survey is very interesting but we don’t think that it will eliminate the risk to the contamination of water.

“We believe the regulatory system is not strong enough.

“We don’t need to be trying to extract increasingly difficult fossil fuels when we need to be reducing our carbon emissions.”  Continue reading