Fracking laws

 

I have had a number of copies of a standard email and a few variants from constituents worried that oil and gas companies may be able to drill beneath their homes without needing permission from the land owner, and go on to frack where this is needed to produce gas.

With other MPs I will of course consider the proposed legislation very carefully. I have  no wish to see people’s homes damaged by seismic movements beneath their properties, nor to see chemicals leach into water courses, nor has the government. The proposal only allows new rights to drill more than 300 metres down. There will be compensation to local communities where drilling takes place.

More importantly, gas and oil companies have no wish to damage homes or contaminate water. They will be well aware of how much damage that would do to their reputations and bank balances. I do not expect the new law to be any more lenient on ensuring  a prohibition on the  pollution of water, nor to suddenly allow companies to damage people’s property.

Much of the possible drilling will be way below the surface level, so it should not in anyway disturb foundations and gardens. People who live in London have had many more large holes and tunnels drilled close to the surface to contain large water pipes, cables, tube trains and other underground services without damage. The extraction of any gas found may  be less harmful than water extraction licences which people accept water companies should enjoy, which can take water away from near the surface with more potential impact on structures.

We can learn from the problems coal mining created in the past. There a whole layer of rock was hewn out, and in some cases the rocks and soil above were allowed to collapse behind the miners. In other  cases pillars of coal were left supporting the strata above, but these too were subject to collapse. Taking gas out of a reservoir rock  at great depth will not have anything like the same impact as removing a whole stratum of rock.

Water companies will continue to have a duty to supply potable water to every household. They will continue to measure and monitor the water they put into their supply pipes in great detail to ensure there are  not adverse chemicals or dangerous  bacteria in it. They will have every interest in working with oil and gas companies to ensure the water courses remain clean, or to ensure proper treatment of the water before supply. The issues are not as difficult as the water company’s current task of cleaning up everyone’s foul water  before returning it to the river and sea. Handling all that foul water is a problem. People just expect the companies and authorities to be able to take it away and process it without harm.

I do think we need to produce some of the gas and oil we are now finding. It is not particularly friendly to say oil and gas should be extracted from under the homes of foreigners in their countries, but never here at home. It also leaves us worse off if we import more and produce less here. We do need to get our oil and gas from somewhere to heat our homes, drive our cars and fuel our factories.

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74 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Cheap energy is clearly essential to be competitive, the environmental impact of fracking with suitable controls is almost certainly far better than all the wind and PV nonsense that the Coalition wastes so much taxpayers money on. And at 2 to 6 times the cost, very unreliable & intermittent too, so worth far less.

    Nuclear, Fracking, Coal, Oil in the short term, and Nuclear fusion (and perhaps with technological advances more efficient wind and solar) in the long term. These are surely the best most effective solutions.

    I see we have the new Longitude Prize
    http://www.longitudeprize.org/
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27425224

    Three of the six problems (food, water and co2 free flight) virtually fall away with cheap energy. The other three (dementia, paralysis aids, antibiotic resistance) are certainly helped by it and the increasing wealth thus generated.
    It is not at all clear that we need to reduce atmospheric C02 (nor that we can get the world cooperation needed anyway) but if we ever had to it is surely far easier & cheaper to do at ground level than on planes. With cheap energy from fusion this would be quite easy to this cost effectively anyway.

    I welcome nearly all investments in science and technology but these six are perhaps not very well chosen – rather too political and “BBC think” as usual. Cheaper energy is what is needed as soon as possible and stop governments building silly wind, pv and HS2 train nonsense.

    • stred
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      There were two programmes on the BBC recently covering the longitude prize and business technology.

      In the first, their expert on aviation and the search for carbon free flight said that the use of biofuel kerosene did not solve the problem because the engine still produced CO2. It can be carbon neutral of course, providing the biofuel is the right type and does not require other carbon energy to produce it.

      In the second, an electric motor bike was shown and the manufacturers expert claimed that, with its hydrogen fuel cell, carbon free transport is already here. This omitted to mention that electricty is required to produce the hydrogen and, in the UK, 550 grams of CO2 are produced for every kWh.

      The reporters seem to be totally unaware of the technical issues and never question the green correctness.

      • APL
        Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Stred: “The reporters seem to be totally unaware of the technical issues and never question the green correctness.”

        The level of ignorance about straightforward technical principles is pretty breathtaking.

        I once spent quite some time arguing with a fellow that switching the lights on on your motor car, would lead to worse fuel consumption.

        He swore blind that that was not the case because the lights were supplied from the battery!!!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          That is indeed about the level of much of the BBC science alas. The main agenda of BBC science seems to be to rewrite history and show that it was all done by women and nearly all scientists and engineers are indeed women.

          Hence all the Photo 51 agenda and the likes (an X-ray diffraction image of DNA taken by a man Raymond Gosling in May 1952, working as a PhD student under the supervision of Rosalind Franklin).

          I am all in favour of more women in science, but the BBC agenda just looks absurd. If they choose not to study physics at A level and university (in the main) does the BBC want to force them all to?

          • APL
            Posted June 12, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            Lifelogic: “does the BBC want to force them all to?”

            Probably, but isn’t it a little absurd that our state broadcaster has developed its own education policy?

            Close it down, sell it off and fire everyone above the grade of junior manager.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Good to see Eric Pickles turning down the two large solar farm proposals in Suffolk. How on earth can it be sensible to litter large areas of farmland with pointless solar panels needing constant tax payer subsidies? If you stop these idiotic subsidies you kill these daft schemes anyway just do that.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Subsidies for solar panels should be directed at new builds of larger houses and commercial buildings. Planning law should be changed so that the alignment of the roofs of such properties are such that maximum benefit is achieved. Where they are viable solar panels solar panels should be compulsary.

      • Mark
        Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Solar panels are never viable in the UK. Even in the most favourable locations, they only produce around 10% of their nominal capacity on average, most of it at midday in midsummer when there is no shortage of power or need for heat. They depend heavily on subsidies, and even arch Green George Monbiot is against them:

        http://www.monbiot.com/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Indeed they clearly should be in sunny climes if anyware at all not in the cloudy northern UK.

          Any money put in should be in R&D not roll out of premature or duff technology.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Then again CAP does this with Sugar Beet and similar crops best grown elsewhere. They should stop these subsidies too.

  3. oldtimer
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    There is a well organised campaign to prevent fracking for oil or gas in this country, which accounts for your emails. As things stand there is little prospect of much exploration taking place for the reasons given by the US entrepreneur who gave evidence to the House of Lords Committee which investigated the issue. A change in the law is needed.

    One question I have is how did “they” settle on 300 metres as the appropriate depth at which landowners permission would no longer be required? My understanding is that the typical depth of shale deposits is c8-9000 feet down – say 2500-3000 metres. This is far, far deeper than the 300 metres you mention. Is there another agenda at work here that will enable other drilling to occur, unconnected with fracking?

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      The 300m limit is primarily not for shale .

      Parts of the country have coal deposits which are either not safe or not economic to mine with deep long wall mining .

      These coal seams generally have methane adsorped to the surface of the coal which can be recovered if the coal seams are dewatered to reduce the pressure to the point where the gas desorps .

      The same same horizontal drilling techniques are used as are typically used for shale .

      This is generally known as CSG (coal seam gas) or CBM (coal bed methane) (as distinct from CMM (coal mine methane) which is extracting methane from active or historic coal mines rather than letting it vent to the atmosphere) .

      The Lough Allen basin in Eire/Northern Ireland has shallow prospective shale too .

  4. mickc
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    “compensation to local communities” is a form of “warm words” which means nothing.

    Only individual people can be compensated, not “communities”- and that isn’t going to happen.

    To paraphrase Thatcher, there is no such thing as a community, just individual people, each of whom has rights and responsibilities.

    This proposes to take away individual rights and give “compensation” to – what exactly?

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Micke ,

      Regarding “compensation” , rather than “to what” , the question should be “for what” ?

      The 1934 act is clear that oil and gas rights are nationalised and supercedes all “lord of the manner” type rights so people have no right to the oil and gas under their land .

      The compensation seeking is pure opportunism stemming from the coincidence that extraction of gas from shale was pioneered in the US ; one of the very few places in the world where mineral rights are privately owned .

    • Mark
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      The answer to “for what” is for underground access, as provided already in law. Mick is right that it is wrong to withdraw this right to compensation in law – which is fairly minimal as it stands. It should instead be cemented in place like a drill casing, with automatic compensation rights made slightly more generous than the existing ones.

  5. Ronnie
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more. Very sensible statement and this line of argument needs to be made more widely. Good stuff.

  6. JimS
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Hydraulic fracturing only causes seismic problems when it reaches existing fault lines. These faults are, of necessity, small in the UK as this is a small island, so any ‘earthquake’ produced will be very minor tremble. Existing, recent regulations, require that exploration be kept away from fault lines. These can be mapped very well using modern small-scale seismology and, in any case, injected fluid rates must be continuously monitored so as to detect any unexpected faults that might have been missed by surveying.
    Your ethical and energy security concerns over imported hydrocarbons are quite correct. In addition we need to consider the inevitable leakage that results from international pipelines. It has been estimated that more ‘green house’ gas would leak from a Russia-UK pipeline than are produced by burning the gas delivered by that pipeline. While the latter is a constant for a given level of energy consumption the former can be reduced by having shorter pipelines. We can’t get much shorter than getting gas from under ‘our neighbours house’!

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Some faults are too small to show up on seismic but will show up on drill logs .

      The same radioactive signature which is used to geosteer the drill bit for a mile or two horizontally though thin seams can detect abrupt changes which may indicate a fault .

  7. Iain Moore
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    “It is not particularly friendly to say oil and gas should be extracted from under the homes of foreigners in their countries, but never here at home. ”

    It is pretty reprehensible to play the Nimby card, especially when it is attempting to claim there is an equivalence to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the plains of the USA to that of a massively over populated England.

    But perhaps one of the reasons we don’t believe it will be a good deal for us, is that we don’t believe companies have our best interests at their heart, and believe they are only in it for how much they rip us off for. After all companies have jettisoned their social responsibilities in pensions and training, trashed peoples wages and terms and conditions to such a point that the tax payer is having to subsidise them, while always finding funds to pay for the greed and avarice of boardrooms.

    Neither do we trust the British political establishment, who will waste any tax revenue fracking might produce, on their foreign wars, playing Sanata Claus to the world, and ensuring the EU bureaucrats never have to worry where the next penny is going to come from, let alone their obscenely expensive pork barrel politics here.

    If you want to get any change in peoples view of this , all the tax revenue that fracking might produce should be hypothicated to paying off our national debt. At least then we would be trying to ease the catastrophic debt burden we are currently going to pass on to our children.

    • Mark
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      The companies involved in shale drilling at present are far too small to have any influence on prices paid by consumers – and in any case they are at the mercy of energy policy that militates against their development in favour of windmills, which are true exploiters of government mandated subsidies and quotas. “Big Oil” have shied away from UK shale precisely because of these Green politics. They’re investing in wind instead, and hoping that the subsidies hold out.

  8. Richard1
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    After decades of experience in the US and tens of thousands of fracks, if that’s the noun, despite the best efforts of environmental leftists, there is no evidence at all of significant seismic activity, contamination of water, exploding from leaked gas etc from fracking. As you say, coal mining caused far greater disturbance to the rock strata (and also went underneath peoples’ land without disturbance). Whilist of course scrutinizing new rules and looking carefully at environmental consequences, we should take no notice eg of the group of 50 or so narcissistic luvvies who have called for a ban on fracking (and were promptly contradicted by a group of 50 scientists).

    The solution is to move away from compensation for ‘communities’ (which means money to be spent at the behest of local politicians and bureaucrats) and towards direct compensation to any households in the area. Almost certainly there will be no actual harm – if there is people should of course be able to claim full reimbursement – so such payments will just be a bung, but worth it to stop all the environmentalist nonsense.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      This legislation seeks to ease issues associate with the drilling of the horizontal lateral of a well .

      The safety issues arise almost exclusively from the vertical portion of the well and surface activities .

      Given the choice :-
      A- drill one horizontal lateral 5,000 feet long
      B- drill two horizontal laterals 2450 feet long because Mr Selfish refuses to allow a well under their 100 ft garden

      Option B would result in 4 times the amount of surface infrastructure and at least double the road traffic than option A .

      John , the vote on this issue needs to happen BEFORE the 14th onshore licensing round takes place .

      The UK needs the expertise of “big shale” from the US , not “big oil” on this one and they aren’t going to come if they seem more than 25% of MP’s say naye or abstain .

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    What have we come to when the land that produced Newcomen, Humphrey Davey, the Stephensons and James Cook is so lily livered that we need Mummy in Government to give us permission to get the riches that lie beneath our very feet!

  10. Bert Young
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Fracking and cheap energy are essential elements to our economy . If we succeed in breaking from the EU our efforts towards other markets will increase and the price of our goods will be heavily influenced by the price of energy . Nothing should prevent this opportunity – providing all safety measures are put in place . Compensation to land and property holders should be in the form of a %age rebate from the companies involved ; the £50 previously mentioned is a ridiculous figure . I hope we will proceed in all haste .

  11. Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I would have no objection to fracking taking place near or under my property PROVIDED that I know that hassle-free compensation would be available if something goes wrong. My main concern is that if my home shows signs of movement due to subsidence, which I believed was a result of near-by fracking, I could be involved in long arguments with those involved and with insurance companies over responsibility.
    I am not unduly concerned about the water supply, particularly as it seems the construction of HS2 is likely to upset the local water table for 30 years or more.
    As for some of the other alleged dangers of fracking, such as methane coming out of the water taps, I’ll believe it when I see it!
    We need to get on with exploiting possible gas sources as a matter of urgency as the bulk of our gas now comes from Russia (via Ukraine) or the Middle-East. The other thing we need to do is to increase the gas storage capacity so that we have a larger contingency reserve bearing in mind that, according to reports, we were down to two day’s gas supply in the past winter in spite of the comparatively mild weather.
    We need real government action now, but I fear the Luddites of the LibDems and the Greens will delay matters until we have a hard winter and people start dying due to the cold.

    • Mark
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Currently, we get no gas from Russia itself. Our gas comes as our own production or as LNG imports – mainly from Qatar, and as pipeline imports – mainly from Norway and the Netherlands (even the gas piped from Belgium originates almost entirely in the Netherlands and Norway). Any gas sold to us by Russian companies must first have been bought from one of these supplies, directly or indirectly.

      • Posted June 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Nevertheless, any interruption of supplies from Russia would cause problems for the whole European market and whilst Qatar might be peaceful at the moment, who knows what might happen in the Middle East?
        All the more reason why we should get fracking ASAP.

        • Mark
          Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          I agree we should get fracking. It’s an interesting paradox, but because we have lots of LNG terminal capacity, whenever there is a gas shortage in Europe the consequence is that we land more LNG in the UK, and the pipelines are reversed to supply Belgium and the Netherlands. In effect the UK becomes an offshore LNG terminal for the Continent – and our supply is more secure than theirs, because we’re first in line, not last.

          • A different Simon
            Posted June 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            The seasonal variations in wholesale prices have not been big enough to justify gas storage projects .

            If we don’t ramp up domestic production maybe we will need them as a contingency .

            I concluded (I think correctly) about 3 years ago that the promotion of shale-gas extraction technologies outside the U.S. was in large part a centre piece of U.S. foreign policy .

            Pity they overestimated Europe’s and the UK’s ability to actually do anything rather than just talk about it .

            Not sure what to make of Obama’s new edict about CO2 in electricity generation .

            Maybe it is intended to raise the price of US export LNG to the point where it becomes unviable thus dodging the thorny issue of exporting LNG .

            Obama is not much of a parliamentarian issuing the edict through the EPA rather than letting it be debated in Congress .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Many elderly are already dying from the cold or shivering as a result of the government driven/green crap/climate change act/over expensive energy by design. Just look at winter and summer death rates and compare.

  12. sm
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Fracking – why not?

    Can we ensure we don’t have a situation where the tiny few end up gaming and capturing the regulators and companies concerned to gain the rewards and leaving the large risk’s and liability with others and worst of all the citizens or taxpayers.

    I can see the logic in supporting some risk, it is at least a productive industry with obvious benefits not just for a few.

  13. Mark
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I have had a close look at the government consultation on this issue, and I have also looked at the reports of the defining case law in this area: Bocardo vs Star Energy, concerning the wells drilled in the Palmer’s Wood field near Oxted, Surrey 800ft (somewhat less than 250 metres) and 1300 ft under Mr Mohammed al Fayed’s luxury home in Hogtrough Lane just South of the M25. The Supreme Court judgement is summarised here:

    http://ukscblog.com/case-comment-star-energy-weald-basin-ltd-or-respondents-v-bocardo-ltd-appellant/

    The consultation paper is very weak – and it is evident that those who compiled it have no real understanding of the matters they discuss, either in terms of geology and practice of drilling, or of law. I assume this is because of DECC’s choice of people without industry expertise to staff the Unconventional Oil and Gas quango, coupled to the fact that the rather small companies who have risked shale exploration so far having a very strong preference for as simple a life as they can imagine. It’s about time they hired some expertise instead of those who seem to be more concerned to find excuses for delaying shale exploitation. I note that the compilers are unaware that Hampstead tube station has platforms almost 200ft below the surface, and have failed to consider how to define their depth criterion in any consistent manner. This is the consultation document:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/313576/Consultation_on_Underground_Drilling_Access__final_web_version.pdf

    The case law clearly establishes that there is a right to compensation for underground trespass (no depth limit is set), which can be obtained via compulsory purchase if the parties are otherwise unable to agree – and that the value of this right is accordingly quite small. Were it not for the fact that Star Energy had not negotiated for the right, the award might have been less than £100 – but their failure to do so meant an award of £1,000. However, the procedure required to achieve the compulsory purchase result is potentially very lengthy, currently entailing referral to the Secretary of State before it even gets to the courts, and also needlessly expensive.

    If there is any sensible need to change the law, it is not to remove the right for compensation, but rather to simplify the process to speed it up and reduce costs that only benefit the legal profession. The government has a tin ear if it considers it appropriate to remove the existing right. It should instead arrange that compensation be offered automatically to landowners beneath whose property drilling and fracking takes place. A simple procedure would be to publish the well extent map (including allowance for fractured rock zones, not just the location of the well bore), and to make compensation of a fixed sum (perhaps indexed by inflation) automatic on a postage stamp basis (i.e. if the well crosses a property the same amount is paid). There would be a duty to write to occupiers where owners cannot be identified directly, and for them to pass that on to the owners. If a landowner is tardy in applying for compensation, this should not prevent drilling, but it should be paid promptly. The amount might be set slightly higher than the sum implicit in the Bocardo judgement for a negotiated access. It is no imposition to create such a map, as it will be required as part of the rest of the regulatory process.

    It is worth noting that these provisions are also intended to apply to geothermal wells, where the current law offers no guaranteed right to compulsorily purchase encroachment underground. The public acceptance of the well drilled in Central Southampton (under the Toys’R’Us car park just 200 yds from the Central station) shows that wells in city centres need not be at all contentious.

    The idea of awarding compensation to some local body instead will only result in bunfights as to which body should benefit, with no good logic to support the idea, whose sole merit is simplicity of a single payment. Where wells cross a local boundary there could be controversy as to who benefits in any case. This idea has simply not been properly thought through.

    Of course, there are other issues than sub-surface access. It would evidently reassure the public to know that consequential earthquake insurance was in place – albeit the likelihood of damage to property is truly minimal, especially with the planned seismic monitoring scheme which needs to avoid becoming impractical. DECC should take advice flowing from Dr Verdon’s latest paper on this topic:

    http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/new-paper-estimates-of-error-in-micro.html

    There are also other disturbances in the neighbourhood of drilling sites: noise from the activity itself (much less than many suppose), and a temporary increase in heavy traffic being the primary ones. In due course, the laying of pipelines to the gas grid might be added to that. We already have established procedures for handling these kinds of issues. If they are to be burnished and improved, then the should apply equally to other activities such as quarrying, building sites, wind farms, etc.

    We already have regulations for water treatment that work well in dealing with produced water from wells. Conventional oil wells tend to produce rising water cuts over time that far exceed the water quantities from fracking. Again, Dr Verdon supplies information about the realities:

    http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/produced-water-disposal-comparison-with.html

    There really is no need to change the existing regulations for handling water – merely to ensure they are applied.

    • Mark
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Apologies for the length of this post, but it does seek to provide a reasoned way forward that I hope should be of interest to readers and MPs (and even DECC officials?).

      • Mark
        Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        I am puzzled as to why you have still to publish my main post on this topic. The links are to a government site, a site links from which you have accepted elsewhere, and a site that summarises legal opinions. I fail to see that accusing the government of having a tin ear and pointing out the inadequacies of the DECC consultation document and the likely cause being a lack of appropriate expertise constitutes abuse of your posting guidelines. As the only substantive suggestion for an alternative to the government proposal based on the existing legal position, it seems odd to exclude it.

  14. forthurst
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    A report for the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce into the “Chemicals used in Hydraulic Fracturing” makes quite clear that the injection of large volumes of noxious chemicals are considered necessary by fracking companies to assist the release of hydrocarbons absorbed in shale formations; furthermore, formulations of undisclosed chemicals are being used where the chemical company regards such information as ‘proprietory’ and a ‘trade secret’.

    http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic-Fracturing-Chemicals-2011-4-18.pdf

    The volume of chemical additives is of course nothing compared to the huge volumes of water required to facilitate fracking. Fracking wells typically do not last as long as conventional wells and may need the fracking process repeated many times over the period of extraction as the yield declines.

    As with ‘Climate Change’ and the use of ‘Sustainable’ methods of energy generation, the suitability of fracking as a means of supplementing our indigenous fuel supplies is above all a scientific matter in which those taking the decisions lack a basic level of scientific knowledge.

    • Mark
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      The UK regime requires disclosure of chemicals used, and approval from the Environment Agency before use. You can easily find exactly what Cuadrilla used at their Preese Hall well. There is no problem over supplying the water required in a country that has been subjected to floods! Please see the discussion of water I linked to just above your post.

      • forthurst
        Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        “There is no problem over supplying the water required in a country that has been subjected to floods!”

        It is important that people are aware of the types of chemicals used in fracking formulations and therefore why they are potentially a serious environmental hazard.

        Water has to be captured before it can be used and the EU, in its omniscience, has decided that we need to ‘conserve’ water so that we don’t need to build more reservoirs which are already clearly required already in some areas of the country due to overpopulation.

        • Mark
          Posted June 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Fracking does not require potable water.

          The quantities involved are in any event a small fraction of overall demand – and exploiting shale gas can lead to reduced overall demand for water.

          http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/shale-gas-life-cycle-water-consumption.html

          I do agree that the EU Water Directive is designed with rationing of water and ever higher prices in mind – based on premises about rainfall that simply do not apply to the UK, and that we should seek to disapply it.

  15. ian
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    same old same old, Debt on top of debt never to be repaid. They set up little drilling companies with no money and lend all the money from the banks. So if any thing go wrong they just put the drilling company in to bankruptcy, leave you with the debt. smoke and mirrors. Look great on the books like GDP and little tax cut. they will bring in overseas people to do the work to save on NIs. It just another form of QE. Like help buy and student loans. Great for inflation your house go”s up. You have a 200,000 pounds house they have 5 million pound house, your go”s to 360,000 pounds they”s 10 million pounds, You go down the road to buy sum thing only to fined it unaffordable. (Named well paid individual had a big pay rise ed) eight year down the road it all over and back to 2008 again. They just kid in a play ground wasting time and resources. The only intelligent they have is link to they back pockets. Have you brought your fracking shares yet john.

    Reply Of course I have not bought fracking shares. I do not buy shares in individual companies as I wish to be able to speak out on industrial and commercial matters in the Commons.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      No what you say is incorrect .

      “Little (exploration only) drilling companies” CAN’T borrow money from banks for exploration .

      They get risk capital by issuing equity to other companies and private investors like myself .

      Yes most of them lose money and some go bust but that is capitalism and I’d suggest it’s far better than bailing them out with public money .

      Oil patch banks get involved when resources have been moved to the reserves category e.g. “reserves based lending” . It is much more difficult to get RBL for resources in an unconventional trap .

      When you are denigrating the efforts of juniors please try remembering that if it wasn’t for Cuadrilla single handedly throwing a spanner in the works the UK would still be following it’s fantasy energy policy .

  16. acorn
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure that people are aware of how many of these wells we are going to need. Shale Oil wells don’t produce for long; you have to keep drilling new ones to maintain a constant output from a gas or oil field.

    A fracked well’s output tails off about 60 – 70% in its first year, in the US. This incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” (Bloomberg). The Weald Basin and the Wessex Basin are the governments favoured drill sites, south of the M4. They cover a lot of District Council Planning Committees. Should be fun.

    As Far as I can gather, the US, has currently circa 65,000 shale gas and oil wells producing about 2.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The UK uses about 1.5 million barrels a day and imports about 0.5 million.

  17. acorn
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    For those few UK citizens who take an interest in such things, the latest EIA country brief for the UK, has recently been published. http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=UK .

  18. The PrangWizard
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Life in England and the odious ‘Nimbys’ have become far too comfortable in the last 30 years or more, particularly those in the south. We are told regularly, but falsely, that we are one of the richest nations in the world; after all we’ve closed our pits, and we’ve managed ok – and our arrogance has thus grown, we can get our coal from elsewhere, coupled with a patronising view that we should buy from others, the poorer nations, they like us to do that, they will be better off and we can feel good. But what about the oil which take for granted, but that’s way off in the North Sea, we can’t see the rigs. I expect if they had had to be drilled on land we would have no oil and vastly poorer as a result if we had allowed the ‘nimbys’ and the ‘green’ fanatics to control matters. Where could we have made up the lost wealth from? So, we let others do all the dirty work, and the US? – well they’ve got vast areas of unpopulated land – ours can remain ‘green and pleasant’. There is something wrong with the English – we live too much on past glories.

    We need some serious blackouts to wake these people from their shameful and hypocritical behaviours, but I doubt even then they would accept that the problems were anything to do with their obstructionist selfishness.

    • Mark
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I was quite shocked to discover how few windmills there are in the South (aside from the Atlantic facing Cornish coast). Londoners have to go to Dagenham, the M4 at Reading or the M25 just before the M1 junction to even sight a solitary windmill.

      This map is revealing:

      http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/default.asp

      Especially in conjunction with the weather maps that show wind speeds (you must for now use 1971-200 average, not 1981-2010) and sunshine hours monthly and annually here from the Met Office:

      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/ukmapavge.html

      Comparison with the map of existing oil and gas wellsites in England and Wales shows just how many have been drilled with little or no complaint in the windmill deficient South

      http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/update-map-of-existing-uk-oil-and-gas.html

      It should be obvious which is more intrusive.

    • David Price
      Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:20 am | Permalink

      There is one big propellor (the blogger knows about ed) which receives far more in public subsidy than it generates in power. At an average of 17% or less efficiency it’s performance is woefully below that projected and used to justify it’s construction.

      A group then wanted to construct 5 more of these useless things …. and local people objected. Do you simply label those who objected “odious nimbys” or do you, like them, question why we should all subsidise the prospective owners who live nowhere near the site? These things were nothing more than a means to get free money from the taxpayer so who was the odious party?

      I have no doubt there are reactive nimbys but using this simplistic perjorative can cloud the real reasons to object too often.

  19. Tom William
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of being facetious, but not completely, we all accept aircraft flying in the airspace above our houses/land. We do not demand compensation for the noise they make nor the fumes they leave behind. What is the basic difference, apart from one being known and the other just believed to be possible?

  20. Trumpeter Lanfried
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    They can frack away underneath my house and I don’t want any compensation. It’s an important natural resource and a welcome addition to our energy supplies. Let’s use it.

  21. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Sorry but I have been away (Scotland again) and have only just read yours on UKIP.

    I believe what you have written to be a very poor piece indeed. First, the heading is misspelled (should be whither of course, which I have pointed out before) but secondly and much more seriously your deciding to challenge UKIP followers on specific seats shows in the nicest possible way a high level of ignorance of what is going on. Nobody (certainly not I) has ever said that predicting specific seats is easy because it is obviously not. In fact it is close to impossible but so what? THE question has nothing whatsoever to do with specific seats and everything to do with whether, given a decent vote and an equally decent variability, a few UNSPECIFIED seats are won by UKIP. Which ones they are is very much secondary.

    Comments in general on the highly specific seat of Newark (and the excellent UKIP result there) reflect nothing more than the unreasonably high expectations placed on UKIP in what is one of the safest Tory seats anywhere. Pray there isn’t another by -election but this time in more of a three way marginal.

    Reply Eastleigh was just such a 3 way marginal which the Lib Dems managed to win. The point is a fair one which I ask.It is official UKIP policy to target on seats they think they can do well in, so which are those seats to carry out the policy of targetting? Why doesn’t Mr Farage do what most other people do who want to be MPs, and secure a candidature well before the election and get to know the seat? IT looks from the outside as if UKIP is not serious about winning anything in May 2015.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply, its called keeping your gun powder dry. Don’t risk getting it wet by getting it out too soon. Standard technique, whatever you think of Farage on that he is probably dong the right thing.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Lest you think otherwise, I (and we) don’t predict much, just that there will probably be a few (two or three maybe with a bit of luck, nothing hyperbolic) UKIP seats SOMEWHERE in 2015. Targeting is of course necessary and all very well but just part of the whole. There is obvious fickleness. For my personal money Roger Helmer should have been told to shave off his grey moustache so as to de-accentuate his age (similar to mine) and to look a bit more ‘with it’. I don’t like, as you will have gathered, putting weight on specific seats but for what worth Eastleigh if run today, after the huge successes in the European and Council Elections, not to mention the near annihilation of the Liberal vote at Newark, might have been different, not that the UKIP result was bad as it was.

  22. Iain Gill
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Out in the real world this will drop votes. Just sounds like a press release from the business people lobbying for fracking. Not much listening to the genuine concerns of the real people. There is a sensible position that takes account of the concerns of the real people and this is not it.

  23. ian
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    when you win the election on the back of houses prices and mr osborne moves to the foreign office and you are busy counting the gains on your shares and house prices, under us government guidance he will sign us up to the eu and you will not be able to get out of it. \He say that”s what you wanted renegotiation . I got a good deal. No will mind because houses and that will still be going up. PR PR. (allegation about Labour deleted ed)

  24. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    In California where people can vote on individual measures they consistently vote for all proposals which lower taxes and all proposals which raise spending. So it will be here, given the chance people will vote to stop fracking their own area and also complain about high energy prices. A decision needs to be imposed on them but it will be a brave government who does so, the increasingly “conservative” Labour party will promise that everything will stay the same and collect their votes.

  25. Neil Craig
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    A test of the sincerity of “environmentalist” opponents of tracking who claim to be concerned about the rights of householders or the risk to buildings is whether they have put 10,000 times more effort into opposing sewage, subway and cabling & called for the filling in of coal mines (perhaps with the landfill material “environmentalists” and EU say we do not have room to put on the surface.

    That would separate the honest environmentalists from the parasitic Luddites waving a false flag because they know nobody would support their real totalitarian/feudalist agenda.

    Does anybody know of an honest environmentalist activist. Or even one who is 1 part in 10,000 honest?

  26. Mockbeggar
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    A very interesting article. Also many thanks to ‘A Different Simon’ for his factual data about fracking. I have learnt something from his contributions.

  27. Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    A splendid example of reassurance that all is well and worries can be forgotten, but your post is full of holes, to coin a phrase.

    You say that worries are that oil companies MAY be able to drill beneath private properties. Not so. The Queen’s Speech makes clear that the government will change the Law of Trespass so that oil companies WILL be able to drill under private property without notification or permission. Oil and gas ownership belongs to the Crown and is not affected, but the rights regarding water will be, for they belong to the landowner.

    You claim that M.Ps will carefully consider the question and do not wish for damage to occur. Is that the same careful consideration that has been given to the building of wind turbines, with massive subsidies to rich landowners and large additions to people’s electricity bills? No one suggests malice on the part of M.Ps – just massive incompetence and special pleading.

    The compensation to local communities is a poorly-concealed bribe to Parish Councils to support government policy which is designed to compensate for the lack of a proper energy policy in the recent past and lack of proper investment in electricity generation. In addition, adherence to E.U. strictures on Green energy, we have had working power stations arbitrarily closed before time and Drax in Yorkshire required to use wood pellets from the U.S. as fuel. Is all this the result of careful consideration?

    Your piece focuses on seismic activity and the lack of it, while on water supply, you speak of proper safeguards. Since there is at present, no experience of fracking in this country, which is a new industry and since the geology of this country is radically different from that of the U.S., what proper safeguards are in place? I have asked one of your fellow M.P.s, a former Minister, three simple questions about fracking. 1) how much water is needed for one frack, 2) what proportion of the fracking fluid returns to the surface 3) what measures are in place to deal the returned fluid, now in a toxic state. He has been unable or unwilling to provide any answers.

    How do you intend to prohibit the pollution of the water supply? Will you pass yet another law to change the response of the injected liquid to the laws of physics? Your comparison with the current treatment of foul water is irrelevant, since what comes back from fracking, according to current evidence, includes components like heavy metals and radioactive matter like radon gas.

    You nowhere mention the clear scientific evidence of gas leakage from wells, nor the facts about well failure over time and as a proportion of all wells drilled.

    As for your NIMBY argument, I understood that the task of government was to serve the needs of this country’s people and not to save the world.

    I expect that you are aware that the latest report by the national geological survey states that though there are undoubted reserves of oil and gas under the Weald, neither are in sufficient quantity to justify commercial exploitation.

    I commend you and your colleagues to careful consideration of the matter.

    John Wrake.

    • Mark
      Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Oil and gas is already being exploited from under the Weald. The quantities may not amount to a world class reserve, unlike the Bowland shale, but we have been exploiting them for decades already with few even being aware that it is happening – evidently including yourself. It is likely that continuing exploitation will be just as unnoticeable in future – only the Green protest camps seem to make a notable presence.

      I have dealt with water in response to another of your posts. As to well integrity and gas leakage, I suggest you gain some perspective from informed comment such as this:

      http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/refined-well-integrity.html#more

      No-one is guaranteeing completely accident free operation – everything we do carries some risk – but the regulatory regime should reduce failures to a level of extreme rarity, and also ensure prompt remediation where a problem does occur. We already have over 2,000 onshore wells in the UK, the earliest drilled over 100 years ago: integrity has not proved to be an important issue with them so far.

  28. Steve Cox
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    One reason that fracking and shale oil/gas production has proceeded so quickly in the US is that the landowners also own the mineral rights under their property, in contrast to the UK. Hence people here are understandably opposed to hydrocarbon drilling and extraction from beneath their properties as, to put it bluntly, there’s nothing directly in it for them. Human nature. In the active US shale basins someone owning an average sized farm could be raking in over a million dollars a year from the oil companies producing from beneath his land, and for no effort on his part at all. Even the owners of houses can receive regular cheques for thousands of dollars as a result of production. And what are we offered in rip-off Britain? The local community (who exactly is that?) will get the crumbs left over after the oil companies and government have grabbed the bulk of the income, and no doubt just like the government they will squander and waste it on vanity projects. Why not simply reform the mineral rights law so that you own whatever lies beneath your land and in the event of shale gas and oil production you will receive commensurate compensation? I think I can guarantee that if the government did this then the vast majority of the ‘disgusteds of Wokingham (and elsewhere of course)’ would quickly become shale energy enthusiasts.

    • Mark
      Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Landowners have had no say in the speed at which progress has not been made. The delays have all been inspired by the DECC and politicians who support green ideas, who have been keen to ensure that windmills and solar are established while making CCGT unprofitable as a way to try to reduce gas demand, and to find lots of excuses for halting progress on shale. There is now some sign of a volte face because they have suddenly realised that we face blackouts and power cuts and a lack of supply security generally. The latest idea is to pay industry to shut down, rather than simply impose power cuts without compensation: the bill for that will be paid by consumers, who will find that smart meters will also be used to impose power cuts on them, and presumably also by workforces on short time pay.

      • A different Simon
        Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Smart meters – a great way of Big Brother letting you know he’s watching .

        Every time you write something subversive on the highly monitored Internet your electricity is cut off .

        A lot less trouble than late night phone calls or a knock on the door .

  29. Ray Veysey
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I envy your ability with words, to put together the essay above with all the detail and and knowledge of the potential questions and answers without actually getting off the fence and coming down on one side or another is masterful. It reminds me of the very famous boxing correspondent for the Daily Mirror, Peter Wilson, he could write a double page spread on a big bout coming up, and weave into it a prediction that both contestants would or could win.
    The morning after the big fight the invariable headline was “As I predicted”

  30. Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Mark at 1:25 p.m:

    Your statement that fracking does not require potable water, though strictly correct, is thoroughly misleading.

    The water required does not have to be drinkable, but it does have to be fresh water obtained from the same sources as potable water for human consumption.

    Your comment that there is no problem of supply in a country liable to flooding is designed to deceive the uninformed. The flooding which affects this country is seasonal, restricted in area and often consequent on poor government planning, as in the Somerset Levels.

    Fracking operations require large quantities of fresh water on a continuous basis, often in areas which are not liable to flood. A percentage of the fresh water required returns to the surface in a highly toxic state.

    Fracking for shale gas requires multiple wells and millions of gallons of fresh water, all of which cannot be recovered and purified, since it remains underground.

    John Wrake.

    • Mark
      Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      If my link to Verdon’s site that addresses water demand and treatment were published you would see that water is not the critical issue you describe. The quantities are small in the context of overall water demand, and there is no need for continuous supply, or even a large peak rate of supply since tankage can be filled slowly prior to fracking – by truck, or by a regular water supply connection. The quantities of water requiring treatment are much smaller than those produced from onshore conventional oil and gas wells currently in operation, and there is therefore no reason to suspect that there would be any problem with treating produced water. As the link to the Met Office annual data maps show, there is no shortage of rainfall in the Bowland area.

    • APL
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      John Wrack: “Your comment that there is no problem of supply in a country liable to flooding is designed to deceive the uninformed.”

      There is no problem of potable water in a country liable to flooding. There is a problem of portable water in a country liable to unrestrained immigration where that countries neighbours are experiencing extraordinary high levels of unemployment.

  31. Mark
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I have had a close look at the government consultation on this issue, and I have also looked at the reports of the defining case law in this area: Bocardo vs Star Energy, concerning the wells drilled in the Palmer’s Wood field near Oxted, Surrey 800ft (somewhat less than 250 metres) and 1300 ft under Mr Mohammed al Fayed’s luxury home in Hogtrough Lane just South of the M25. The Supreme Court judgement is summarised here:

    http://ukscblog.com/case-comment-star-energy-weald-basin-ltd-or-respondents-v-bocardo-ltd-appellant/

  32. Mark
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The consultation paper is very weak – and it is evident that those who compiled it have no real understanding of the matters they discuss, either in terms of geology and practice of drilling, or of law. I assume this is because of DECC’s choice of people without industry expertise to staff the Unconventional Oil and Gas quango, coupled to the fact that the rather small companies who have risked shale exploration so far having a very strong preference for as simple a life as they can imagine. It’s about time they hired some expertise instead of those who seem to be more concerned to find excuses for delaying shale exploitation. I note that the compilers are unaware that Hampstead tube station has platforms almost 200ft below the surface, and have failed to consider how to define their depth criterion in any consistent manner. This is the consultation document:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/313576/Consultation_on_Underground_Drilling_Access__final_web_version.pdf

  33. Mark
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The case law clearly establishes that there is a right to compensation for underground trespass (no depth limit is set), which can be obtained via compulsory purchase if the parties are otherwise unable to agree – and that the value of this right is accordingly quite small. Were it not for the fact that Star Energy had not negotiated for the right, the award might have been less than £100 – but their failure to do so meant an award of £1,000. However, the procedure required to achieve the compulsory purchase result is potentially very lengthy, currently entailing referral to the Secretary of State before it even gets to the courts, and also needlessly expensive.

    If there is any sensible need to change the law, it is not to remove the right for compensation, but rather to simplify the process to speed it up and reduce costs that only benefit the legal profession. The government has a tin ear if it considers it appropriate to remove the existing right. It should instead arrange that compensation be offered automatically to landowners beneath whose property drilling and fracking takes place. A simple procedure would be to publish the well extent map (including allowance for fractured rock zones, not just the location of the well bore), and to make compensation of a fixed sum (perhaps indexed by inflation) automatic on a postage stamp basis (i.e. if the well crosses a property the same amount is paid). There would be a duty to write to occupiers where owners cannot be identified directly, and for them to pass that on to the owners. If a landowner is tardy in applying for compensation, this should not prevent drilling, but it should be paid promptly. The amount might be set slightly higher than the sum implicit in the Bocardo judgement for a negotiated access. It is no imposition to create such a map, as it will be required as part of the rest of the regulatory process.

  34. Mark
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    It is worth noting that these provisions are also intended to apply to geothermal wells, where the current law offers no guaranteed right to compulsorily purchase encroachment underground. The public acceptance of the well drilled in Central Southampton (under the Toys’R’Us car park just 200 yds from the Central station) shows that wells in city centres need not be at all contentious.

    The idea of awarding compensation to some local body instead will only result in bunfights as to which body should benefit, with no good logic to support the idea, whose sole merit is simplicity of a single payment. Where wells cross a local boundary there could be controversy as to who benefits in any case. This idea has simply not been properly thought through.

  35. Mark
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Of course, there are other issues than sub-surface access. It would evidently reassure the public to know that consequential earthquake insurance was in place – albeit the likelihood of damage to property is truly minimal, especially with the planned seismic monitoring scheme which needs to avoid becoming impractical. DECC should take advice flowing from Dr Verdon’s latest paper on this topic:

    http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/new-paper-estimates-of-error-in-micro.html

    There are also other disturbances in the neighbourhood of drilling sites: noise from the activity itself (much less than many suppose), and a temporary increase in heavy traffic being the primary ones. In due course, the laying of pipelines to the gas grid might be added to that. We already have established procedures for handling these kinds of issues. If they are to be burnished and improved, then the should apply equally to other activities such as quarrying, building sites, wind farms, etc.

    We already have regulations for water treatment that work well in dealing with produced water from wells. Conventional oil wells tend to produce rising water cuts over time that far exceed the water quantities from fracking. Again, Dr Verdon supplies information about the realities:

    http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/produced-water-disposal-comparison-with.html

    There really is no need to change the existing regulations for handling water – merely to ensure they are applied.

  36. Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Dr. Redwood (with apologies for not using your correct title previously),

    I trust you will recognise that a certain scepticism is natural when governments suddenly claim that urgent action is necessary, after years when the subject has been neglected or ignored or simply subject for argument between political parties about how our need for power should be provided.

    Now we are told that the lights may go out if we don’t embrace ‘fracking’.

    Comments on your post about fracking laws I find quite intriguing. An anonymous commentator calling himself Mark has produced 19 comments out of the 66 recorded so far.
    All are in favour of fracking and he lends weight to his comments by many reference to government websites and information supplied by a blog hosted by a Dr. Verdon based on Bristol University. His comments would carry more weight if he was prepared to acknowledge his real name and give his qualifications. As for Dr. Verdon, do we know who is paying for funding his research and study? It wouldn’t be an oil company, would it?

    As for Mark’s comments, a little common sense applied can only add to the scepticism.

    He makes much of the 2000 wells already existing in this country, but doesn’t point out that they are conventional wells which have not been fracked, with the possible exception of Wych Farm in Dorset, where most of the drilling is not on land.

    His comment on the relationship between water usage for fracking and overall demand is nonsense, since that will vary according to the number of wells fracked, which he doesn’t specify.

    He speaks of the rainfall in Bowland, but doesn’t refer to potential drilling in South Yorkshire and the Weald, which is no stranger to hosepipe bans. Nor does he draw attention to the exploratory drilling in the Bowland area shut down after minor seismic activity attributed to drilling activity.

    He makes much of the fact that no one objected to the drilling in the centre of Southampton. Was that because the public in Southampton were ill-informed or apathetic? He certainly didn’t mention that the authorities in Dallas/Fort Worth, where fracking has been taking place for some years, has now banned fracking completely.

    I find it strange that Mark makes no reference to evidence from places where fracking is happening, where oil companies and local authorities are being sued by individuals for millions of dollars, after damage caused by fracking. He makes no mention of the number of wells and fracking operations required if the process is to become financially viable.

    I tend to associate information provided by someone called Joe or Darren or Mark with no surname attached to the sort of offers you might get in the pub concerning bargains which have to be accepted immediately or you miss your chance.

    You are free to call me an old cynic. My motto is Caveat Emptor!

    John Wrake

    • Mark
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      Mr Wrake is of course correct that the government and the previous one have been extremely neglectful of energy policy, and are now starting to find out the hard way that intermittent power from windfarms is no substitute for a properly balanced supply and that our import dependency has continued to rise despite having a world class resource under our feet.

      Dr Verdon’s CV and funding are easily obtainable from Bristol University here:

      http://www1.gly.bris.ac.uk/~JamesVerdon/CV.shtml

      I cite him because he is knowledgeable, has collected much relevant information together in an accessible manner on all the hot topics such as water use and disposal, induced seismicity, well integrity and leakage issues and so forth and is an academic rather than an industry employee: his current funding comes from NERC. You will certainly learn far more from his website than from watching the discredited Gasland propaganda film. He is but one of fifty academics who wrote to the Guardian recently

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/04/lancashire-shale-gas-uk-energy-gap

      Regular contributors to this site mostly use a pseudonym or partial name that they keep to, since this is not a formal hearing but an opportunity to debate and pass on information and views thanks to our generous host. Personally, I evaluate what people write rather than who they claim to be. I have found that appeals to authority that are not backed by good arguments and good facts are worthless. It is usually evident when people write with some knowledge, or with an interesting slant on a topic. That is why I suggest that Mr Wrake takes the time to read Dr Verdon’s articles rather than coming up with throwaway accusations that reveal that he has not done so. He would then know that there have been over 200 wells fracked onshore in the UK already – albeit only one in a shale target rock. He would know that even in the most heavily exploited areas of the US, water use for fracking amounts to less than 1% of the total water usage, and that the resultant gas has saved water use in coal power stations and thus led to lower water use overall because CCGT uses far less water per MWh generated. He might even have noticed that I referred to the issue of induced seismicity, and understood that this has been taken seriously as an issue – not least by Dr Verdon himself, who has been in the forefront of developing the necessary regime by testing its effectiveness.

  37. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    we’ll all have to take out fracking insurance soon.

  38. John Wrexham
    Posted June 13, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    The opposition to fracking reflects our ageing society obsessed with the value of its property portfolios and with little concern for the next generation, let alone the one after that. Instead of scaring ourselves, we should be concentrating on regulating fracking so that it benefits our economy rather than solely foreign-owned multi-nationals.

  39. Bazman
    Posted June 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I asked a while ago on this site how much I would be entitled to if shale gas was exploited under my land. Which I in theory own to the centre of the earth. Many Americans have become very rich because of this. The Tory government passed laws to prevent me having any claim on spoils to help business. Didn’t help my business that’s for sure. Tell you a lot about the Tory mindset helping big business at whatever cost to the state and its citizens. I and many more have been ripped off. Interesting to see if this applies to large landowners. It will not for sure. Cheers Guv. Cough! Hack. Not for the likes of us as we would only spend it on drink.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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