Drill for victory?


If current energy prices are not high enough to shock people into wanting us to find more home based gas to use, the weak position of European countries  vis a vis Russia should be sufficient spur to find and extract UK gas.

Some in the government are keen – the Chancellor and the Minister of State for Energy. How keen is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change?

It is true he is working  towards a large new Licensing round to prospect for onshore oil and gas. The 14th Round is due soon, and will grant licenses in many parts of the country to those willing to spend to find. However, the whole process is currently out to consultation. The consultation, which closes on 28th March, is mainly preoccupied with ensuring compliance with the EU’s Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive 2001 and the EU Habitat regulations.

The DECC website reminds us just how highly regulated all this is going to be. Now I entirely agree the interests of landowners and local communities need to be fully protected. Of course they need assurances that drilling will be safe and controlled and  will not take place close to residential areas. Of course if gas is found communities and individuals should participate in the good news, and should be protected against damage to their properties or their water supply. If any gas is found in my area I will want to help the local community get the sensible guarantees and a participation  they will expect, but I will not want to block the development in suitable locations.

Anyone wanting to look for gas will have to obtain landowner consent, DECC permission, planning permission from the local Council, Environment Agency consent, and Health and Safety approval. It might be a good idea if the government also offered some encouragement to this process. The oilfield at Poole in Dorset shows that it is possible to extract oil close to a beautiful landscape and a prosperous town without it being intrusive or a constant cause of conflict with the neighbours.  The drilling for that occurred years ago before all this latest regulation.  If we are to tackle fuel poverty and fuel a decent industrial revival we need to get on with finding and using the gas that probably lies beneath our feet.

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  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    With your knowledge please tell me how we are able to speed this process along.
    With all these departments involved is it not time for a campaign to cut the crap in the national interest!

    Reply The usual way – let your view be known – lobby your MP, lobby DECC, respond to the consultation etc

    • APL
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      JR: “The usual way – let your view be known – lobby your MP, lobby DECC, respond to the consultation etc”

      Except the ‘usual way’ assumes an receptive political class. Since most of the regulations are transcribed from EU directives into UK regulations and ‘law’ there is no way to make changes to the regulations.

      Given that the Political class, likes the situation where they get paid for rubber stamping the EU directives, the circumstance isn’t going to change.

      • Hope
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Vote UKIP and it will. This is our only hope of bringing about change.

        Vote LibLab CON and nothing will change. The politicos do not care what their supporters think on the big issues and are prepared to hide facts, deceive and lie to fulfil their aims.

        • Hope
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Do not forget it was the Tories who voted for the Climate Change Act along with the other two useless parties.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Only five MPs (in total) voted against the patent insanity of the climate change act.

            We are either governed by complete dopes, sheep that will just follow any fashionable insanity or they are corrupt and on the make.

            I can see few other explanations.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps in thrall of a mad religion is the most charitable explanation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      “The usual way” let your views be known! Near elections they might even pretend they will do something generally in the electorates direction – but then post election they will rat & do exactly what they wanted to anyway.

      David Cameron’s blocking of the manifesto pledge on the recall of MPs, the blatant ratting on IHT & the cast iron guarantee and even David Laws back in the Cabinet just for a few examples.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    But this does not fit in the Davey, Huhne, Cameron, Libdum, EU, BBC think, green crap religion with its expensive and pointless rotating crusifixes, PV cells of roofs, carbon capture, electric cars, idiotic green deals and all the rest of the largely nonsense engineering they push with huge taxpayers subsidies.

    How many years of no warming will it take before they see sense 20, 30, 50 we have had 16 so far?

    Some limited warming and higher co2 is actually a net ecomomic advantage anyway, particularly for food production and plant growth.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Cameron, having foolishly set his daft hug a husky, vote blue get green crap, pro EU, big state, tax borrow and waste ratting agenda and having thrown the last election as a direct result is now just sitting on the fence. This until he throws the next election in just 14 months time.

      We need a leader with a working compass, one that points to lower taxes, fewer government parasites, cheaper energy, less regulation, a much smaller state, far less EU, real democracy, fewer bureaucrats, lawyers & tax accountants, control of our own borders and seclective immigration, real growth and real jobs. Not someone now sitting on the fence after setting off in totally the wrong direction. Still too late now Miliband it is to be alas.

      • Hope
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Another £800 million being borrowed to give away to the EU, this is on top of the £1 billion demanded by the EU after the threat of reducing its budget, and another £1 billion given to the Belarus dictator to fight dissidents. With GDP improving overseas aid increases and the EU get to spend a sixth of it without our wishes.

        So, this it at least an additional £2.8 billion to the £55 million pounds given away to the EU budget. Money which is borrowed and pay interest on ie the £53 billion debt interest in last weeks budget. More than defence spending and a host of other budget headings. All this for a £43 billion trade deficit and the give away of our fishing grounds, sovereignty and independence. The politicos claiming there is austerity and cannot afford wage increases or pension hikes to be in line with other EU countries. And now taken to EU court to help EU benefit tourists. Utter madness shown by Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      I think Cameron and other Conservatives who have felt obliged to show obiesence to the green religion are looking for a way out now it is clear the costs are so high, and the underlying theory so doubtful. Shale gas could be such a way out. The Crimea crisis may have the beneficial effect of shocking the govt, and perhaps even the EU under electoral pressure to ignoring green scaremongering on this.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        But Cameron has foolishly lumbered us with the Libdems and Ed Davey types. If he cannot even sack people as daft/unscientific/infected with the green religion as Davey what chance have we got. Only 14 Months left before he gets a job at the EU, moves to the Lords or something equally nauseous.

        I see Neil Kinnock’s son has now been selected as Labour candidate for the safe Labour seat of Aberavon. Political family dynasties of, now quite wealthy, career politician failures. All paid for off the backs of tax payers – Kinnock, Benn, Gummer ………

        Hopefully he will be far better and more honourable than his politics of envy, chip on the shoulder, father. It should not be too hard.

        • Richard1
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          The hereditary principle is thriving on the political left. I think the Castro and Kim families in Cuba and North Korea have made it acceptable for them.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            In the Tory party too, but then that is covered by the term “on the political left” I suppose.

        • Hope
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          How can he be a full time MP in Wales while his wife is PM in another country? What time can he actually give to his constituents? What sort of time can he spend in his constituency? Every voting person in that area must really question their logic to vote for him.

        • Qubus
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          Straw, Blair……?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Cameron’s “way out” seems to be to jump over the cliff with the Tory Party for a few terns – in just a few months time it seems.

    • Ken
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      The prestigious American Physical Society are currently involved in their twice-a-decade review of the status of climate science to assess whether their position on anthropological climate change needs to be revised, amended or rejected.

      They are doing this in a completely open, public and scientific manner. The panel which is assessing this science are not composed of climate scientists, but are composed of emminent physicists and scientists of the highest order. They have employed a panel of six leading climate scientists, comprising 3 alarmists and 3 sceptics, so that they may examine all the actual scientifcally valid evidence in a truly scientific manner. The discussions of the climateologists have been made public and the questions that they pose to the scientific evidence for CO2 driven climate change are excellent and directly relate to the physical mechanisms which would be required for the CAGW hypothesis to be valid, and why many of those mechanisms have NOT been observed in the climate, and why they are only observable in models, and why the models have been wrong.

      I wait to see what the outcome of this review is, but it is looking increasingly likely that it will be a much more sceptical outlook for AGW, than any other leading global scientific body has so far dare admit.

      Once the most emminent scientific institutions start admitting that the observed evidence does not agree with the prediction of the CAGW hypothesis, then the politicians will be able to stop promoting energy poverty in the name of “saving the planet”

      • Richard1
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        This is a very interesting development as you rightly observe. Global warming hysterics will not like the idea of open debate amongst scientists on this issue, with the results to be made public.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Good give me real physicists any day over climate change priests/politicians and people on the make.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      “How many years of no warming will it take before they see sense 20, 30, 50 we have had 16 so far?”

      An infinite number. There is not a single observation of the climate that we could make which would convince them. As I have explained before their theory is not falsifiable and therefore qualifies as pseudo-science rather than real science. However, this is not the point, USA experience shows that fracked gas actually REDUCES CO2 emissions because it selectively replaces higher-carbon energy sources such as coal and oil. So, the way to promote the idea with the warmists is to point out this benefit of fracking. Here is an interesting article from the Economist on this topic:


      • uanime5
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        As I have explained before their theory is not falsifiable and therefore qualifies as pseudo-science rather than real science

        Climate change is falsifiable, for example if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continued to increase but the average global temperature continued to decrease then it would be proven incorrect. The fact that it’s been proven correct, unlike the deniers’ claims, doesn’t make it pseudo-science.

        Reply Why not show us graphs pf average world temperatures and CO2 increases over the last few hundred years so we can see for ourselves.

        • acorn
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          I suggest you get a copy of “Earth Story” that was narrated by Prof Aubrey Manning; see the correlation between sea level and CO2 concentration; frightening.

          • Richard1
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

            That wouldn’t prove much. Obviously sea level is lower during glaciations and higher during warm periods when ice is not locked up on land. The question is the cause. Perhaps the warmer periods caused the higher CO2 – have you looked at which h happened first, the warming or the CO2?

          • APL
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

            Richard1: “have you looked at which h happened first, the warming or the CO2?”

            By some estimates it’s the warming and the CO2 lags by about 800 years.

            That to me sounds plausible, as the ice retreats exposing barren rocky ground, it’d take a few centuries for the vegetation to cover it again. Followed by the fauna.

        • Richard1
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          What about if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continued to increase but the temperature stayed flat,contrary to predictions in climate models. What would that show?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

            This is exactly what has happened for the last 16 years.

            The sensitivity to CO2 is hugely exaggerated and it is only one of countless variables many not even knowable.

            Anyway a bit hotter and a bit more CO2 is rather better anyway on balance as far as we can tell.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 3:57 am | Permalink

          Why not show us graphs pf average world temperatures and CO2 increases over the last few hundred years so we can see for ourselves.

          Here we go:


          Reply 1943-76 is an interesting period, as is the last fifteen years.

          • Richard1
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

            Too bad that graph stops in about 2002

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

            The graphs on this link are more up-to-date.


            Reply Interesting that this graph combines effects of volcanic activity and CO2, and argues with no evidence that periods of falling temperature reflect a volcanic effect.

          • David Price
            Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            Seeing a chart like you offer makes me question why the authors where incapable of finding ice data for the full period, why did they have to switch to a different sample set, especially as it shows such a convenient change of direction.

            I wonder why the graph authors did not in fact use the full extent of ice core data (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/siple.html) which covers an estimated period up to 1983 with CO2 levels (328) below that of the Mauna Loa data (340). If they did the slope in the yellow section would be close to that of the red, certainly up to 1980.

            Correlation and causation is such a tricky thing though – http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ci700332k , perhaps we should import more Mexican lemons to get the global temperatures down.

        • Hope
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          Drivel once more Uni, just because you say so does not make it true or accurate. Give people with an alternative view a name/ label. Typical Lib Dem/ socialist tactic.

          Worryingly for JR, Cameron stated in parliament he believes this religion!

        • Roy Grainger
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          “Climate change is falsifiable, for example if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continued to increase but the average global temperature continued to decrease then it would be proven incorrect”.

          That may falsify the theory of global warming (though you don’t define how many years temperatures would have to stay the same) but it does not falsify “climate change” in which ANY extreme weather event – hot or cold – is ascribed to man’s actions. Part of the reason it was renamed “climate change” is to prevent it ever being falsified – what observations would disprove it ?

          • APL
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            Roy Grainger: “what observations would disprove it ?”

            The geological record. And by the way, it proves that climate change has been both extreme and gradual before mankind stood upright.

            That disproves the anthropogenic nature of ‘climate change’.

          • acorn
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            “CO2 oscillations of ∼10 ppm in the last 1000 years are too large to be explained by external (solar-volcanic) forcing, but they can be explained by outbreaks of bubonic plague that caused historically documented farm abandonment in western Eurasia. Forest regrowth on abandoned farms sequestered enough carbon to account for the observed CO2 decreases. Plague-driven CO2 changes were also a significant causal factor in temperature changes during the Little Ice Age (1300–1900 AD).”
            http://courses.washington.edu/holocene/Ruddiman-Holocene_Carbon_Cycle_Anthropocene-ClimChange03.pdf .

  3. Mark B
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    You were very careful not to use the word, SHALE. Any reason why ?

    The problem is regulation. We do not control it and, we cannot rely on everybody to agree at EU level to change all the directives that would impact on the extracting the fossil fuel. If EU, and those that do not want the UK Government to benefit from any potential energy bonanza, use various EU environmental laws, then it is highly unlikely that the UK Government will be allowed to pursue fracking. This is what happens when you give all the power away.

    High energy prices are, in part, due to the Government pursuing ruinous energy generation policies and over generous subsidies to producers who, will receive taxpayer monies even when no energy is produced. The Government have also pursued the insane idea that, a gas that makes up 0.03% of the air that we breath, somehow represents a serious threat to the planet. And we in the UK, a country which according to Uanime5*, produces 1% of the total of the worlds CO2, has to somehow de-carbonize our entire economy, because the then DECC Minister, Ed Milliband MP, thought it wise to gold plate EU legislation, thereby making the use of fossil fuels such as coal, too expensive to use. Madness !!

    John Redwood MP said;
    “I will not want to block the development in suitable locations.”

    So, even if the majority of you constituents did not want it, you would ignore and/or oppose their wishes ? If so, that is hardly representative is it ? Let alone democracy.

    We do not need to drill for gas or oil. We already have large abundance of cheap fossil fuel beneath our feet – Coal !

    What we need is people (MP’s) who live in the real world. Who can see through all this quack science and mumbo-jumbo and can tell our masters in Brussels that, “if they want their little wet-dream of a Euro-superstate to have any future, they will let the UK and others do what is necessary regarding fuel or, we will begin seek ‘alternative arrangements’.

    We elect MP’s and a Government to ‘represent’ our views and to act on our behalf. Not to make excuses for ‘others’.

    Reply I did not use the words shale or fracking because I did not want to limit myself to these examples of hydrocarbon deposits and extraction methods. There may be more oil and gas in structures that are not shale as well as shale. The gas in shale and non shale may or may not need fracking techniques to bring it to the surface. Fracking is used already in the North Sea where the reservoirs are tight, and some tight reservoirs are not shale. Shale and fracking have become emotive words on both sides of this debate. I just want us to get on and get out the easiest and cheapest energy available.
    As to my own constituency, I would hope to carry a majority with me if we did find gas beneath our feet and if the Council and I could agree a sensible way of getting it out with the producing company and landowner. I would not rule it out in advance!

    • Mark B
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Thank you for a comprehensive reply, which also furthered both my knowledge and understanding. I did not know we used fracking in the North Sea, perhaps it would help if our state broadcaster and others, whose information we sometimes depend, could/would highlighted this.

      We still need to consider coal though.

      • A different Simon
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        Mark B ,

        The Worlds very first first example of high volume hydraulic fracture stimulation of a horizontal well was in chalk reservoirs of the Danish North Sea .

        Over 200 wells onshore the UK have been frac’d . The first believed to be in 1986 according to Peter Styles at Keele University who had a student on site at the time .

        Germany beat us by three decades having frac’d since the 1950’s and also was the first country in Europe where an exploration shale well was massively frac’d .

        Russia is one of the biggest customers of oilfield services companies providing hydraulic fracture stimulation services .

        • Mark b
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Simon.

          And here is me thinking that this is all new stuff. If this has been going on for quite sometime, surely many of the issues surrounding it would have come to light long ago.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–And don’t forget underground coal gasification, which sounds pretty good to me–under the sea too we now read

    • arschloch
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      What JR also missed out was Dave’s promise to give the local authority half of any revenues generated from drilling. So being cash strapped as they are, there is going to be no problem with planning permission and you can naturally assume your property’s value is going to drop like a stone should they come anywhere near you.

      This and last week’s euphoria on pensions give perfect examples of being wary of what politicians force on the rest of us and what they actually do themselves. If ending the requirement to buy an annuity at retirement is such a good thing, why are they not piling in themselves? No they are not they and they are not going to offer tax payers better value by closing up the final salary scheme and starting off a money purchase arrangement either. They will still expect the mug tax payer to provide them with an annuity for life and underwrite all costs in doing so.

      This pension reform is really dangerous. You would think people would have longer memories and remember how personal pension were such a good thing in the mid 80s. Do you remember the adverts on the telly with an escapologist telling us that with a PP you could, just like now, be free to plan your retirement? Do you remember like I do your colleagues being told to transfer from a FS scheme to a new PP? At the time lots of the nurses I worked with were being told by their “financial advisor” that the NHS scheme was a load of rubbish, a PP will allow you to retire much earlier and a load of other falsehoods. Do you remember one big insurer having to put aside a billion to put right what its “men” had been up to? Do you remember that things got so bad the government had to put out another set of TV adverts asking had you been short changed over your pension? Remember if an MP tells you something is great he need not be acting as his he expects his constituents to do so.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      We do not control it and, we cannot rely on everybody to agree at EU level to change all the directives that would impact on the extracting the fossil fuel.

      Given that Poland is still engaging in fracking it seems that there aren’t any directive that prevent fracking. Though Poland isn’t experiencing an energy bonanza because their shale gas is difficult to extract.

      The Government have also pursued the insane idea that, a gas that makes up 0.03% of the air that we breath, somehow represents a serious threat to the planet.

      Well there is all the scientific evidence showing that it does represent a serious threat to this planet because high CO2 levels result in more heat being trapped, raising the average global temperature.

      And we in the UK, a country which according to Uanime5*, produces 1% of the total of the worlds CO2

      I stated that the UK has 1% of the worlds population but emits 2% of the world’s CO2. I did this to counter the claim that it was fine for the UK to produce 2% of the world’s CO2.

      We already have large abundance of cheap fossil fuel beneath our feet – Coal !

      Have you calculated how much it would cost to mine this coal (people won’t work for minimum wage in a job that his dangerous and requires heavy manual labour)? Make sure you include the cost of reopening all the mines that were closed, then flooded.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        You pose an interesting idea Uni that the maximum allowed output of CO2 for a nation should be calculated by the size of its population versus its current share of world CO2.
        Assuming your aim is to get all nations to try to agree to large reductions do you realise nations like China, India, USA and Germany would have to reduce their allowances by huge amounts whereas lesser populated nations would not have to alter their existing output even if it were high.
        This is not a method that will bring about agreement between nations as I predict we shall see in the forthcoming climate summit.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        U5 said;

        “Well there is all the scientific evidence showing that it does represent a serious threat to this planet because high CO2 levels result in more heat being trapped, raising the average global temperature.”

        We are not living on the Planet Venus ! 0.03% is what is in the air and as for scientists, I tend not to listen to people who have more than a scientific interest in this little SCAM !!

        “I stated that the UK has 1% of the worlds population but emits 2% of the world’s CO2.”

        I think it was 1% you said but, even if it is 2%, that is still nothing. Deliberately making energy more expensive and hurting the most vulnerable people in society does not seem to rattle you conscience. Yes, you might want to blame the energy companies, but it is the Government (first Labour, now Conservative) that provide taxpayer funded subsidies to wealthy landowners and business.

        I am aware that many coal mines were closed, both by Labour and the Conservatives, and that many people would not want to do that kind of work, even if we could reopen the coal mines, the lat of which I believe the Blair/Brown Government closed. But it could be looked into.

        Blair dithered and flopped over building new nuclear power station’s, and now we are going to pay the price in more ways than one.

        Poland does not have Ed Davey as the Minister for DECC. Now that is one job I am more than happy for a Pole to do. Sadly, we cannot replace our elected masters with Continental ones, like they can with nannies.

        • Mark B
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          Oh, PS

          Glad to see that you have come off you night shift !


      • Mark
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        The UK does not produce 2% of the world’s CO2. Global CO2 emissions are dominated by natural sources. Even within emissions produced by humans, the UK now accounts for only 1.5% of the global total, while China is at 27% and will shortly overtake the EU in emissions per capita. If you have a serious belief about the importance of CO2 emissions, you need to work on China.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    This article says it all really. The number of people who have to have their very important objections considered strongly outweighs the few rather more imaginative people who are desperate to get on with providing our all important energy.
    I used to think that the lights would go out. Now I am not so sure because of the masses of diesel generators which have been provided for when the wind doesn’t blow.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Mike, and the real kick in the nuts is this: When the wind does not blow, we pay the said provider monies for energy they do not provide and use the CO2 producing STOR diesels. When the wind does blow, we use what little energy they provide yet, pay the companies that supply the, now not in use STOR diesels, money to stand idle.

      That’s why the energy is so expensive, we are paying for things we neither need or use. Rather than just accept that climate does indeed change (naturally) and build cheaper energy using coal fired power stations, the fuel for which we can supply ourselves, we embark on importing wind technology which is produced abroad.

      • APL
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Mark B: “Rather than just accept that climate does indeed change (naturally) and build cheaper energy using coal fired power stations,”

        or Thorium nuclear reactors. Apparently the Chinese have a very substantial R&D programme for this technology.

        • A different Simon
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          Gordon Browns predecessor sold of BNFL Westinghouse to Toshiba .

          Tony was such a visionary .

          • APL
            Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

            A different Simon: “sold of BNFL Westinghouse to Toshiba .”

            Yea, there is a lot of adjectives, I’d use to describe Tony Blair, but …..

            Thorium nuclear is significantly different to the uranium/plutonium cycle, that we could probably start from scratch, and have a new nuclear industry in twenty years, just about the time the phracked gas runs out. (if we are lucky)

        • John E
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          There is an all party Parliamentary thorium energy group. It would be interesting to know what they are doing. I did read they had visited Shanghai to see the Chinese efforts, which are being radically accelerated to help them deal with their severe pollution issues.

          • APL
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            John E: “I did read they had visited Shanghai to see the Chinese efforts,”

            Ah! They’re treating it as an opportunity to milk the expenses then.

            They should be visiting Universities and research establishment in the UK, but perhaps that’s not as lucrative!

    • ian wragg
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      John, How many of your colleagues are aware of the STOR programme where thousands of standby diesel generators are being paid for to stand idle in case the wind stops blowing.
      As anyone table4d a question in the house as to why about 5 gigawatts of mainly foreign owned equipment is going to be switched on using some of the most polluting fuel known to man for generation when we are shutting down perfectly good and efficient coal fired stations.
      Why doesn’t the EUssr directive on dirty combustion cover the STOR generators.
      Would it be because (named continental companies ed) have (commercial interests in the UK?).

  5. Old Albion
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Your government must ensure any new gas extraction takes place in England or English waters. If Scotland votes to leave, do not present them with even more prepared energy sources, they have enough (oor oil)
    Bear in mind even if they don’t vote to leave this time, they will try again in a decade or so (it’s the EU model of voting, vote, vote, vote until you get it right)

  6. Steve Cox
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    So far the US has drilled over 100,000 shale wells. Let’s assume that the average productivity of shale wells in the UK is the same as in the US (nobody knows yet), and that the UK would be content to have around 10% of the current level of US shale gas production, so we would need to drill around 10,000 wells within a decade, or an average of around three every day. This assumption of 10% of the US figure is quite reasonable and corresponds to the gas production from some four fields similar to the giant Brent oil and gas field when it was on plateau. I really do wonder if this average of three new wells every single day for a decade is plausible given the requirements to get “landowner consent, DECC permission, planning permission from the local Council, Environment Agency consent, and Health and Safety approval.” Given that under current planning rules we can’t even manage to build enough houses for our population, please forgive me for being somewhat sceptical about our ability to manage the large number of rapid agreements and permissions that useful levels of shale gas production are going to require.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      The economic ultimate recoveries of wells have improved a lot over the past 5 years . Wells have got longer and stimulation treatments more effective .

      With pad drilling during the production phase , surely only the pad should require planning approval .

      Well pads could be 2 miles apart and would only require horizontal laterals 5,000 feet long – and if the geology allows longer laterals it may be possible to space them further apart .

      NAML-5 or NAML-6 junctions would enable stacked horizontal laterals of each Instead of 3 new wells , it could be 3 new laterals , maybe drilled with coiled tubing drill rigs in a production phase .

      At the moment the UK can’t even drill exploration wells without it hitting the national news and local councils and MP’s going into meltdown .

      The UK is playing at it and we are well and truly in the silly season lead up to the G.E. with a real possibility of a Labour-LibDem alliance .

      More than the hydrocarbons themselves , we need the cultural which made shale a success in the UK .

      Should turn the gas heating off in the H.O.C. until they sort out THEIR mess .

      • A different Simon
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        typo : success in the US

  7. Andyvan
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    So much for all the BBC and other mass media propaganda about how susceptible to sanctions Russia is. The fact is that if Russia turned the taps off Europe would be on it’s knees in days. Perhaps the Eu and US shouldn’t have started the revolution in the first place?

  8. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    We have Davey and his fellow regressives doing their utmost to slowdown action, and hopefully in his view stop, the extraction of vital resources, and the BBC now censoring debate on ‘climate change’. The following is taken from the ‘Bishop Hill’ blog this morning.

    ‘Mr MacLeod, head of editorial standards and compliance for BBC Scotland, sent an email on February 27 to 18 senior producers and editors, which has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

    It reads: ‘
    ‘When covering climate change stories, we should not run debates / discussions directly between scientists and sceptics.

    There are too many people at a high level in this country acting directly contrary to the nations overall best interests and security. It is legitimate to examine their suitability to hold these positions and their true motives.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      the BBC now censoring debate on ‘climate change’.

      There’s no point having a debate when the deniers lack any evidence to back up their claims.

      There are too many people at a high level in this country acting directly contrary to the nations overall best interests and security.

      How is preventing global warming against the nation’s best interests and security?

      Reply How much more does the UK need to do to “prevent it”?

      • Mark
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        The whole point is that there is a lot of evidence that the climate models are wrong, and that therefore there needs to be debate. The more intelligent climate scientists recognise as much, and have been busy trying to find modifications to their models that may explain why they are out of line with real world measurements. However, the BBC made the mistake of tying itself to the mast of believing that the science was settled, and is now too embarrassed to admit the truth.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Your last paragraph summs up the situation perfectly .

      The country is riddled with fifth columnists .

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    “Poole and the drilling for that occurred years ago before all this latest regulation”

    That says it all really and the N. Sea. So why are we hanging about for so long? Its truly unbelievable in this country, and we have to wait on the likes of Russia to flick some very poor switches !

    Vested Interests that really are the enemy within. Apart from that I sometimes wonder if the majority of people in UK give a fig one way or the other. Perhaps we might find out come the next two elections. And I doubt UKIP is the answer – sounds good but will likely end up toothless against the embedded VIs.

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink


    But this is not the be all and end all of our energy future. I think Thorium reactors offer an excellent, secure and environmentally friendly energy source. It could be brought on line quickly and will have a very long future.

    The USA used a Thorium reactor to generate electricity decades ago – it is not new technology needing a scientific breakthrough. Lets get on with it.

    • APL
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Alan Wheatley: “I think Thorium reactors offer an excellent, secure and environmentally friendly energy source.”

      At the very best phracking will give us another ten or twenty years of energy ‘equilibrium’, we should use that to build up additional nuclear capacity, and Thorium is the obvious choice.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Comment of Reply–Agreed, but recognise the problem for what it is, which is that Thorium reactors are unsuitable for military use. This is why it wasn’t taken up originally

      • APL
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Leslie Singleton: “but recognise the problem for what it is, which is that Thorium reactors are unsuitable for military use. ”

        I understand and agree. However, we have plenty of nukes.

        What we need if we are going to be able to secure them, is plenty of cheap energy (electricity).

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I raised the question of the adoption thorium reactors with my MP a couple of years ago. The reply from DECC, which he forwarded to me, was to reject the idea that this was a feasible option for the UK. This was notwithstanding the research being undertaken in India and China into thorium reactors. I would not be surprised if my children and grandchildren will live to see the UK buying thorium reactors from one or other or both of these countries after my time is up.

      I believe that the US demonstration of the feasibility of thorium did not resolve all the corrosion issues involved – not because they were insoluble but because they had not got that far with their research. They did not get the time or money to solve that problem. Thorium was dumped as a fuel because it did not produce weapons grade bomb material.

      • Mark
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        The Chinese are not expecting to have a viable thorium reactor for commercial operation for around 10 years. That means we are at least 20 years from seeing one in operation in the UK. It is not a short term solution to our energy problems – but I agree that we ought to be much more involved in the research, and also in fusion reactor research, where we had a lead in the work done at Culham until we agreed to let the EU take over with its slow ITER project at Caderache, downgrading our participation, and not getting involved in the US efforts at the NIF Lawrence Livermore.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I wonder if all of these organisations listed would still be consulted if we were at WAR.

    Just as the studies on birds, newts, and toads were all of a sudden ignored when we had floods and needed to act.
    We need to get back to the can do, must do attitude in this country, before it is death by a thousand regulations.

    Our competitors in foreign lands (excluding the EU) do not wait years for a million studies to be completed, they simply act.
    Yes of course in a civilised society we should not trample all over peoples rights if they are sensible and reasonable, but we have now simply gone far too far with all of this consultation business.
    Indeed we have gone so far that our non competitive status is indeed affecting the living standards of our own people with higher prices and lack of job opportunity.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Alan–The French have a saying, viz When you want to drain the pond, you do not consult the frogs (pun unintended).

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Alan Jutson ,

      Things have drifted too .

      Not even outright war could break the U.K. out of it’s collective stupor .

      We are incapable of doing anything and it will stay that way for as long as people who want to do something have to beg permission from people who do nothing .

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    JR: “The consultation, which closes on 28th March, is mainly preoccupied with ensuring compliance with the EU’s Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive 2001 and the EU Habitat regulations.”
    Must keep the masters in Brussels happy, regardless of the needs of this country.

  13. Peter Davies
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    It’ll be interesting to see if the likes of Germany wakes up to this requirement. A high energy consuming country that relies on huge levels of imported energy which I think is safe to presume must include Russian gas.

    If Russia starts a tit for tat trade embargo how long fracking or other types of extraction will be opposed. You said it yourself months ago that the EU as a whole needs to find a way of being more self sufficient on energy – events in the Crimea have shown us exactly why.

    Where on earth do our political decision makes come from? It seems if you have too much you are kept outside mainstream power in politics

  14. Iain Gill
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    There should be proper compensation for communities impacted by the drilling.

    And there should be proper long term insurance setup to provide compensation for any buildings suffering subsidence as a consequence in the future.

    When I see a drilling rig in the centre of Chipping Norton, and the associated heavy lorries trundling around day and night, then maybe I will believe it makes sense.

    For now it just looks like the politically weak communities will suffer.

    • Mark
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      There have already been 7 wells drilled in Oxfordshire – and many more in other rich Home Counties such as Surrey (39) and Sussex (84). Explorers will drill wherever there are good chances of success, regardless of the wealth of the locals. They will also endeavour to conduct their operations with minimum disruption to local people, again regardless of their wealth or lack of it, because they understand that being a good neighbour ensures that they can work without interruption.

  15. Atlas
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Yep John, I’m 110% with you.

  16. Roger Farmer
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The NIMBY element, who might feel they wish to object to drilling, should understand the technology involved. Were large deposits of gas to be found under Buckingham Palace for instance there would be no need to set up a drilling rig on the Queens back lawn. From what I recall about Wyche Farm in Poole harbour when I visited some ten or fifteen years ago, the drill strings were fanning out from this one site for up to ten miles ( or possibly kilometres) horizontally. They were tapping into the oil bearing rock well offshore of Bournemouth. The techniques involved in Directional Drilling are quite amazing. So if the inhabitants of ( a mining village ed) are vexed at the idea of a drilling rig on their village green they have no need to worry, it can be sited on the other side of the slag heaps. Now tastefully landscaped of course.

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Whatever is offensive about Dylan Thomas’s fictional village. Are you having a sense of humour blockage.

  17. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I find Mr Redwood’s posturing on so called ‘fuel poverty’ quite ridiculous. We are in this position now mostly because Thatcher and Major government (of which he was a senior player) sold of a great deal of our north sea oil and gas at rock bottom prices.
    If we had been wise enough to keep it as a strategic resource we wouldn’t be in this mess.
    Another prime example of the Conservative party failing to be conservative in any way.

    Reply What nonsense. The North Sea was first exploited using private capital by a Labour government! They charge market prices.

    • sjb
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I think Kenneth’s point is well-founded; it was reasonably foreseeable when Mrs Thatcher came to power that the price of oil & gas would rise substantially.

      Norway’s sovereign wealth fund now stands at $822 billion.[1] They decided their windfall from the North Sea would be for all generations, not just one.

      [1] CIA Factbook

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Reply What nonsense. The North Sea was first exploited using private capital by a Labour government! They charge market prices

      Thanks Mr Redwood,
      Labour are also culpable in this, but it was Conservative government’s in the 80’s and 90’s that permitted the abstraction of North sea oil and natural gas on a massive scale . The majority has been sold of to foreign buyers when oil was trading at $20-25 a barrel.
      This provided a bonanza in tax revenues but we are paying the price today. We can also thank the Conservative party for effectively ending the coal mining industry in this country. Those that believe in the religion of man made global warming may welcome this.
      I note that Germany still has a large coal mining industry supplying cheap energy to it’s other remaining heavy industries. Why couldn’t we have followed a similar path?.

      Unforgivably Major, even when he knew that natural gas reserves were dwindling went on a ‘dash for gas’ for electricity generation. Had he turned to nuclear power we would be in a very much stronger position today. So now we are lumbered with a stock of gas fired plant that will be increasingly expensive to run, forcing us to go cap in hand and agree to pay whatever price is demanded by our rivals.

      So we have Energy , Marriage, Our Borders, the welfare system, the EU, schools..the list of things that the Conservatives have failed to protect and manage properly is long.

      Reply It appears we have plenty more gas if only we got on with drilling for it.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        The both Conservative Party AND the Labour Party contributed to the downfall of the coal mining industry. I think it a little unfair to blame one politician and one Party for this.

        I agree that the UK should have set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund and that we squandered our wealth. But the Nation was effectively bankrupt when Lady Thatcher came to power. We had to go to the IMF for money as the then Labour Government ruined the economy.

        Fast forward to 1997, and the outgoing Conservative Government left Labour a growing economy and a small but profitable coal industry. Blair’s and Brown’s Government ruined both.

        Sadly, their Conservative replacements are little better, although they seem to have ‘engineered’ as small recovery – just in time for some elections.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

          According to my information Norway still has a National Debt of some $644 billion. So that raises the question of why the Norwegians simply didn’t use their oil money to simply pay it off or pay it off as much as possible? That’s what most of us would do with our personal finances.

          The answer to that question is the National Debt isn’t what it is generally perceived to be. If we add up all the world’s ND the total is $57 trillion dollars. So who do we owe it all to? Mars?

          Of course we owe it to ourselves. It is just as valid to say the World has $57 trillion of financial assets. Everyone who has assets needs Governments to hold the corresponding liabilities.

          The Norwegians and Australians had a real problem when the influx of oil money caused them to run out of debt! That might sound a surprising thing to say. Perhaps Mr Redwood could comment on that if I have got it wrong. He should know.

          The easiest way not to run of debt is therefore to park excess money in Sovereign Wealth Funds.

          • sjb
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            I wonder if your source used the wrong currency, Peter.

            As at 31 December 2013, the Norwegian debt stood at 604 045 million Norwegian Krone which is $99,961 million.[2]

            [1] click on Table 1 at http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fin/Selected-topics/economic-policy/the-central-governments-outstanding-debt.html?id=443404
            [2] conversion rate of 1 NOK=0.17$

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Permalink


            I’ve just looked into this again and there are various figures quoted in different sources.

            According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Norway
            their public debt is 30% of GDP for 2012. If you check the equivalent page for the UK the figures quoted are similar to figures quoted by Mr Redwood in a recent post on UK National debt.

            So I accept that its probably more like $150 billion. The figure I quoted previously was too high.

            My point still remains though. Why does Norway need any debt at all? If public debt is such a bad thing, why doesn’t Norway use its oil money to pay it off?

          • sjb
            Posted March 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

            Peter asks: Why does Norway need any debt at all?

            For their pension industry?

            “[…] government debt is not just a liability. It is also an asset, and a tremendously useful one […] Imagine that […] government debt did not exist […] Pension funds and insurance companies […] would then face an acute shortage of long-term […] safe assets. They could not transfer into corporate bonds, as this market is just not big enough. Nor would cash be a good alternative, as this carries reinvestment risk – the fact that you can’t be sure of its future returns. And of course equities and commodities are just far too volatile. (Anyone who thinks gold is a safe store of value is just a prat.)
            Worse still, fund would face a terrible shortage of inflation-proofed assets – as hardly any private sector companies issue index-linked debt.
            Institutions which have long-term liabilities – such as pension and insurance companies – would then be in a terrible mess. They would not have the assets which offer a safe match for their huge future liabilities. ”

            Reply If there were no UK state debt there would be plenty of other UK and overseas bodies issuing debt which funds could buy.

        • Kenneth R Moore
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          “The both Conservative Party AND the Labour Party contributed to the downfall of the coal mining industry. I think it a little unfair to blame one politician and one Party for this.

          I agree that the UK should have set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund and that we squandered our wealth. But the Nation was effectively bankrupt when Lady Thatcher came to power. We had to go to the IMF for money as the then Labour Government ruined the economy”

          I don’t blame one party or one politician! ..it would be most unfair to single out Mr Redwood as we don’t know what actions he took as policy advisor to Mrs Thatcher. Also in the days of Major, collective cabinet responsibility meant something.

          Many pits closed under Labour governments but nothing on the scale that we saw in the 80’s.

          In 79 we still had a sizeable manufacturing sector, much better exports and debt was around 50% GDP. Today debt is approaching 100% GDP, imports far outweigh exports and manufacturing is a fraction of it’s former size.

          So in those terms the economy is more ruined and bankrupt in 2014 than it was in 1979. Unfortunately for us over half the oil and gas is gone and that which remains will be vastly more difficult and expensive to extract.

          Reply Labour closed more pits.

      • Kenneth R Moore
        Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Reply It appears we have plenty more gas if only we got on with drilling for it.
        Appears seems to be the operative word here.
        That is assuming enough of the gas is easily recoverable
        This assumes that ‘energy returns on energy invested ratio’s under UK conditions are favourable. 5:1 seems to be the norm.
        This assumes that gas production from shale is sustainable in the long term. The experience of the US is that there is an initial peak followed by production falling by as much as 70% in the first couple of years.
        This assumes that wide scale fracking is possible in a country far more densely populated than the US.
        Mr Redwood is making a lot of BIG assumptions by backing shale.
        If we need energy security the answer is to leave more oil in the ground our territories that is relatively easily recovered. Of course that will never happen as it will be pumped out as fast as possible to try to fill Osbrown’s black hole.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted March 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        And they have cut our defences, and they nearly lost the Falkland Islands way back and….They come from a long line of short-termist City ‘barrow-boys’.

    • Gary
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Actually Kenneth Moore has a point. If the proceeds from North Sea Oil was not wasted why then are we now beholden to Russia and other foreigners for energy? A very serious situation.

      It would have been better than now being precariously energy poor ,to build nuclear power stations 20 years ago, as the French did , and now have been energy independent. Someone wasted our oil revenues. I suspect it, as usual, went into the pockets of govt chums.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Norway has used her oil and gas to make a sovereign wealth fund worth around £500 billion. What have we got to show for all of our oil and gas ?.
      Nothing as the un-conservative Conservative party spent it all on indulgences.
      The Conservatives have shown they cannot be trusted on energy aside from buying short term popularity.

      • APL
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Kenneth R Moore: “What have we got to show for all of our oil and gas ?.”

        A dysfunctional welfare system.

        As I understand, it was a decision made back when the Welfare state was first set up, to pay for everything; a, using tax revenue and b. out of tax revenue.

        The alternative would have been to start National Insurance, for employees and build up a fund. Because that would have meant delaying benefits to older folk, some not getting any at all, it was deemed a politically unacceptable option.

        • APL
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          “b. out of tax revenue. ”

          b. after the war from the Marshal Plan, which the Germans used to rebuild their industry.

          Kenneth R Moore: “Nothing as the un-conservative Conservative party spent it all on indulgences.”

          The Labour party has been in power about 46% of the time since the end of WW2.

          • Kenneth R Moore
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

            North sea oil revenues didn’t start until the early 70’s , so by my reckoning Conservatives have been in office 60% of the time since north sea oil revenue started. I never said Labour were blameless either.

            It was in the late 90’s when North sea oil production peaked under the Conservatives when oil was trading at $25 a barrel. Just 9 years later oil hit $140 dollars a barrel.

            John Major dashed for gas just before north sea gas production slumped. Plenty of people disagreed with this policy at the time but were ignored.

            So do you think the Conservatives have managed our resources well and can be trusted to do any better with shale gas?.
            Don’t bet on it.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

            The Marshal Plan didn’t apply only to Germany.

            According to the table about halfway down the page on this link

            the UK received twice as much from the US as Germany and France some 50% more.

            How different history would have been if the USA had carried on as Germany now does in Greece and Spain, and forced the European countries to adopt austerity measures in exchange for loans, and sending unemployment levels to 25% or more!

      • Mark
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        You can only have a wealth fund when the government has a budget surplus – otherwise it is simply borrowing to invest in the wealth fund. It may surprise you to know that Gordon Brown spent the entire yield of North Sea oil and gas taxes since production began – around £150bn – on just one year’s deficit spending.

        • Kenneth R Moore
          Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          A surprising statistic. I think that shows how foolish it is to sell off oil and gas when the value of the resource is assured to go up .
          The only sensible thing to do is have a quota on oil production to keep more in the ground …unfortunately since the boom of the late 90’s we are now a net importer of oil and gas so it’s too late.

          Reply I disagree. The oil and gas price might have gone down- and did for some of the period. The good news is there is probably plenty more down there which we now need to find.

          • Kenneth R Moore
            Posted March 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            Reply I disagree. The oil and gas price might have gone down- and did for some of the period. The good news is there is probably plenty more down there which we now need to find.

            It’s a pity that Mr Redwood seems to be rooted firmly in the short termist establishment view of energy and politics.

            I was hoping Mr Redwood would agree with my logic – that it is absolutely idiotic that the Uk is now buying in oil at over $143 a barrel, when it could be self sufficient for many years to come … if so much of our north sea oil hadn’t been sold for a relative pittance.
            Every O level chemistry textbook printed since 1970 has described how North sea oil and gas will be exhausted in 25 – 50 years at present rates of consumption so this isn’t something that took anyone by surprise.

            One of our many economic problems is the escalating cost of energy and raw materials. High energy cost is a self inflicted problem. It’s no use Ed Davy pretending it’s all the energy companies fault.
            In the unlikely event of shale gas being recovered in significant quantity’s , no doubt Mr Redwood will wish this to be exploited and sold off at the fastest rate possible at a price that will make future generations think we must have been mad.

  18. Gary
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    you don’t have to go mad and start fracking. Use coal. We have it right noe, we know its economies and the mines are there. Use it. Germany uses coal.

    By all means investigate fracking, but if the experience in America is illustrative, the economies of fracking are dubious. Fracking has become a property flipping exercise and a capital consuming machine with a short lifespan.

    Use coal!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Use Coal, Gas, Fracking, Nuclear then later even wind, PV and fusion when and if they finally get them to work cost effectively.

      Let the market decide subject only to sensible regulations of “real” pollution, environmental damage and risks.

      The same in transport where the market clearly says internal combustion cars, vans, trucks, coaches, ships and planes are usually best. Governments still push trains, bikes (with the Lexus behind), buses, electric cars!

    • Mark
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Whilst the surge in production from shale gas produced an unexpected glut that saw prices fall temporarily below 2 $/MMBtu, prices have since stabilised at a little over 4 $/MMBtu – at which level there is plenty of profitable shale activity, often with enhanced economics because of associated oil production. No-one is projecting that the US shale industry will suddenly grind to a bankrupt halt. Instead, the forecasts are that the US will become the world’s largest hydrocarbon producer, and a net exporter.

      Those who invested in LNG import terminals are facing losses because there is no use for them to import gas. Some are aiming to recoup by converting to LNG liquefaction and export. Coal mines are also under pressure, as coal fired power stations are out-competed by gas fired ones.

    • sm
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      How many serviceable coal stations are we still being forced to close.
      Given the EU energy security issues, would it not be sensible to instead of meaningless sanctions.
      1) burn coal in the indefinite interim in plants already built subject to closure orders-preferably until they wear out.
      2) have a strategic national gas storage facility with more export/import connectors with the mainland.
      3) a few more cables to france for importing nuclear power (must be cheaper than getting EDF to build in the UKl)
      4) a cable or two to Iceland/Norway (Geothermal-electric/Hydro)

  19. English Pensioner
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    How comes it that the government can push through HS2 which will devastate acres of countryside along its route, which will upset the water table for much of Buckinghamshire and for which there is no real proven need, yet they seem unable to push ahead with fracking where the effects would seem to be minimal and the need tor gas is both essential and urgent?
    The only proven problem from fracking is possible earth tremours, all the other problems alleged by the “antis” appear to have been disproved. The latest “laugh” is that the RSPB claims the noise of fracking will harm the bird population and drive them away. Perhaps they should pay a visit to Heathrow which has a thriving bird population!
    I would have no objection to fracking nearby provided that I was provided with adequate insurance against possible building damage from earth tremors. Its time to get a move on!

  20. Chris S
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    This all seems unnecessarily restrictive. I live near Poole Harbour and sail in and out of the harbour often. The oil wells are totally unobtrusive and there is no apparent noise.

    Most visitors would not even notice the sympathetically painted Derrick which can only be seen protruding above the trees from a distance.

    Compared with the horrendous Navitus Bay Offshore Windfarm we are desperately trying to fight off its nothing.

    This massive proposed Windfarm will destroy the views from some of our best loved beaches and tourist spots, restrict our freedom of navigation and poses a tremendous hazard to shipping. Yet the fact that it has even reached an advanced stage in the planning process shows the double standards being applied in favour of wind farms.

    If a Conservative Government was in power I’m certain it would not have made it past the initial ideas stage.

    • Mark
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Did you know that Perenco drilled another four wells at Wytch Farm during 2013?

  21. Tad Davison
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    A country can’t beat being self-sufficient, and fracking could be our own salvation in the short and medium term. If the rest of Europe wants to antagonise and coerce its main source of energy, that’s a matter for them, but they urgently need to take a look at their expansionist foreign policy which will ultimately count against them.

    Rather than bite the hand that feeds them, it is far better to set an ethical standard and welcome other countries as a peaceful and equal partner, than to aim for those countries to be incrementally subsumed, pressured, and for the EU (no doubt at the USA’s behest) to effectively to try to take them over by stealth.

    As with the EU’s absorption of the nation state, with the subsequent loss of decision-making, autonomy, and a diminution of their very identity, the EU’s approach to Russia must be an indication of an undeclared and very dangerous foreign policy that could well see another global conflagration. Little wonder Russia will have none of it.

    There are plenty of countries who now want nothing at all to do with the west and the mess it has caused by instigating and initiating conflicts all over the place, but it’s going to take some very painful lessons to put the EU and US back in their place. An energy crisis in Germany and elsewhere with a contraction in their manufacturing base, could be just the first of many, but their loss should be the UK’s gain.

    Back to fracking, there’s a lot of misinformation put out about it, with environmentalists condemning its dangers, but I’ll say again, if it is done right, they can be minimised if not all-but eliminated. Campaigners point to the contamination of underground aquifers in the US, but that need not be an issue here in the UK provided we don’t try to short-cut the extraction process as some of the US corporations have done.

    The least we are beholden to others, the better!

    Tad Davison


  22. oldtimer
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    DECC is soft peddling these developments because, like the EUrocracy, it is anti fossil fuels and is all too willing to place obstruction in their way. There is a campaign underway to rubbish the very idea, with the usual suspects in the vanguard – such as the RSPB and the National Trust fulfilling their sock puppet roles as they did with the CAGW campaign. Then they were not above accepting taxpayers money to promote the propaganda cause (I wrote to my MP to complain about it during the last Labour government when Hilary Benn was spraying taxpayers money in all directions). It would be interesting to know if, this time, they have accepted money for their latest campaign from DECC or its intermediaries, from the EU or its intermediaries, or from Gazprom and its intermediaries.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      “Hilary Benn was spraying taxpayers money in all directions”

      Rather like his father did with the absurdly uneconomic and totally foolish Concord vanity project.

      Still, at least his father was sound on the EU and democracy.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:15 am | Permalink

        According to my research the draft treaty, with the French, on Concorde was signed on 29 November 1962.

        Further research reveals the Government of the day was Conservative and led by Mr Harold Macmillan. The Labour government of 64-70 did consider cancelling the project but there were heavy penalty clauses in the treaty which effectively prevented that.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          “heavy penalty clauses in the treaty” – well cancelling it would have saved everyone, the French and probably all the companies involved too, even if the penalty clauses were both large & enforceable.

          Still far cheaper than completing the absurd, white elephant project. Still now we have HS2 and all the green crap being pushed.

  23. Mockbeggar
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Whoever dreamt up the ellision ‘Fracking’ did the industry a lot of harm. It sounds unpleasant and destructive and is too close to another word that the greenies latch on to with glee.
    Had it been called ‘Enhanced Gas Extraction’ or ‘Engas’, for example, the general public would have been less frightened of something that is, after all, a great deal less damaging than coal mines (they cause a great many ‘earthquakes’ you know) and certainly less visually intrusive than wind turbines. Since horizontal drilling is used, the actual production well-heads can be gathered together in one small site away from ANOBs etc. possibly on existing industrial estates.
    Ordinary vertical wells used (as in Balcome) to determine the commercial viability of a shale field are temporary – unlike those wretched wind turbines. Thousands of these have been drilled all over this country over the years looking for conventional deposits of oil and gas with negligible damage to the environment.

    • APL
      Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Mockeggar: “, after all, a great deal less damaging than coal mines ”

      Thank you. I have been pointing this out for some time.

  24. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I see that record amounts of North Sea oil is being exported to Asia under the Conservative led Coalition. Our future is still being beggared by short term politicians looking only to the next 4 years.


    • Mark
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      That absurdity was due to a weird deal the EU struck with South Korea for tariff free trade. All their other imports of crude oil are subject to import duties, which means that despite the enormous cost and time delay, it made sense to Koreans to import oil from half way round the world. Your story does date from 2012, so it doesn’t reflect current oil market conditions.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    The US philosophy is to frack first and clean up afterwards. If they contaminate a water supply, they are quite prepared to hand out bottled mineral for a while. Some fracking operations there (e.g. in Texas) extract both gas and oil. Their energy prices are between one third and a half of ours.

    Here, we don’t have this philosophy. Caroline Lucas can turn up for a trial for civil disturbance at a fracking drill site and be hailed by the media as a heroine.

    I wonder how the media would react if I were to organise civil distrurbance against the over-development that is going to happen in Hook as a result of decisions that are nominally those of the Inspector but are actually those of Nick Boles. The Daily Politics ran a story today about the rejection of many District Council Local Plans (Hart DC’s included) in the Green Belt and the Home Counties by the Pickles/Boles Ministry.

    Two very good Conservative Councillors are at risk of being voted out here in May because of Mr Boles’s policy. If it happens, I will make sure that Mr Boles’s head rolls in 2015.

    Everyone reading this site should be aware that if net immigration were to be zero up to 2030 instead of as projected by the ONS, UK population growth to 2030 would be 40% less; the number of new houses needed would be reduced.

  26. forthurst
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    “…the weak position of European countries vis a vis Russia…”

    A weak position engineered by the EU itself, by antagonising Russia directly by the overthrow of an elected President in Ukraine and initiating his replacement by extreme Russophobes who have threatened to cut off pipelines delivering oil and gas to Western Europe and who have destabilised the whole country, and in the process, engineered their own loss of Crimea.

    German industry is already bleating about the negative consequences of sanctions and counter-sanctions on their trade. It is time to stop pretending that the EU is interested in promoting trade and industry. It is not; it is, on the contrary, trying to bring industry to a halt by cutting off its supplies of energy and by enmeshing it in red tape; now it is trying to cause a major conflagration on the fault line between Europe and Asia.

    Fracking is possibly part of the answer, but the whole answer is to get out of the EU.

  27. uanime5
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    If the government wishes to demonstrate that fracking is safe they should chose a location far away from a populated area so that if anything does go wrong it won’t result in a large number of people becoming ill. Though the problems causes by transporting large amounts of water needed for fracking and removing large amounts of waste water will be more difficult to deal with because they will cause problems for the local infrastructure.

    Reply It works quite safely elsewhere in the world where they use this recovery technique.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Don’t go worrying yourself Uni
      Engineers will come up with a cost effective solution to solve the problems of getting the water to wherever it is needed and treating it afterwards in accordance with all the numerous health and safety requirements.
      Over one million fracks completed in the USA and as the head of the EPA in America said in her recent evidence to a Congressional investigation committee there have been no illnesses yet, and no poisoning of domestic water supplies.

    • Mark
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      They have been successfully dealing with the disposal of produced water at Wytch Farm for decades. The supply of water is not a problem: the quantities involved can be delivered gradually while a well is being drilled. There is no requirement for a large instantaneous and ongoing external supply, as at a power station for example. Incidents of aquifer contamination are virtually non existent: much, much lower than from e.g. landfill sites, or abandoned mines. That’s because wells are constructed with several concentric layers of tubing and concrete as they pass through aquifers. Where problems do occur, they are readily identified and rapidly corrected.

  28. Jon
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Lets drill till the ground thunders and shakes so the residents know there’s money being made.

    Lets have annual street parties with bunting to celebrate, we found, not black, but colourless gold.

    Lets replace the nodding donkeys of California with the nodding donkeys of Hertfordshire, Bed, Bucks etc.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink


      Lets keep the lights on.

      Lets keep our industry competitive against nations with cheaper energy than the UK so decent hard working people have jobs.

      Lets help millions of old and vunerable people avoid the cold and dark by making energy affordable like it is in USA after a 50% reduction in gas costs.

  29. John Hartley
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    I understand you are part of the government and will wish to push the government line. However simply parroting industry sponsored hype around Unconventional Oil and Gas (UCOG) and tired lines of PR is not the standard of analysis I expect from you.

    Incidentally I use the term UCOG as fracking is a term that is overloaded and has many meanings allowing confusions and misdirection. Not all fracking is the same, hence UCG to cover all related technologies including Coal Bed Methane and Acid jobs etc etc.

    The old canard that large scale Unconventional Gas (UCOG) extraction onshore will affect prices is simply not true.
    – The UK is part of an open market, and gas is simply sold to the highest bidder. Are you know instead of a free market suggesting some sort of centralised (Corporatist-Socialist-Command economy) style Autarky solution to [protect “our” gas instead? Quite a volte-face if you are.
    – As to the effect on prices even Cuadrilla’s own PR firm Bell Pottinger have admitted that there will be absolutely no meaningful reduction in gas prices. (Unless of course you believe a 1% fall is meaningful.)

    You continue to repeat incorrect spin on impact and regulation:
    – You cite the conventional extraction of oil near Poole as an example of how to do things. Unfortunately this is a false example. You need to understand the nature of UCG technologies and their impact. Wells need to be continuously re-drilled due to the rapid fall of production from tight shale wells (declining by 90% in 2 years from US experience). The bucolic scene you portray at Poole does not occur with UCOG. Rigs need to flare off gas extracted, (itself a significant local impact), so think North Sea rig flare rather than nodding donkey.
    -The need to re-drill wells has significant impact. For example at one of the more recent industry boondoggle conferences an estimate of 33,000 wells would be required to recover 15% of the Bowland Shale gas in Lancashire. Whilst multi pad wells would reduce the number of drilling sites to suggest that this has no impact is obviously patently false.
    – You say continue to repeat the line that this industry is heavily regulated. I see lots of huff and puff about this but absolutely no evidence of this whatsoever. Please tell me of the much vaunted Royal Society report (which can be questioned in itself), how many of the recommendations have been implemented ? Zero.
    Indeed I believe in a free market – why then is the government socializing risk and privatising profits – any accidents are underwritten by the tax payer not by the industry itself.

    You say “If any gas is found in my area I will want to help the local community get the sensible guarantees and a participation they will expect” but you will find this is in direct contradiction of your call for lack of regulation.

    I urge you to learn more about the processes involved taking information from all sources, both in industry and those without a vested interest. I would start with Professor Anthony Infraffea from Cornell University.

    Finally I wish to highlight that the whole UCOG has as a Tory voter left a bad taste in my mouth given lobbying, corporatism ( thought we supposed to be a free market party?) and corruption (perceived or otherwise). (Makes allegations about named individuals ed)
    If your interest is piqued I am contactable directly for more information.


    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Assertions about the effects of shale gas on gas prices depend on the scale of production that is achieved. We know that when the UK had a gas surplus from its own North Sea gas and supplies by dedicated Norwegian pipelines, our prices were much lower than on the Continent. As the capacity to pump gas across the Channel is limited, so too is the connection of prices between the markets.

      In the first instance, gas will back out imports of costly LNG. Prices will not be appreciably lower while we remain a net importer, but our balance of payments will improve, and taxes will be collected from production – both being significant economic benefits.

      Given the size of resource that has already been identified there is no reason why supply shouldn’t increase to the point where we are self-sufficient in gas, with pipeline flows reversed. Then instead of paying a premium to cover shipping from the Continent, export parity price would be twice the shipping cost lower. That would be lower still if production is increased to the point at which we become a supplier of LNG.

      Moreover, it seems likely that there will be more competition to supply European gas markets – from their own development of shale, and from other competing LNG and pipeline supplies.

      The only case in which gas prices remain continuously high is one where economic self-interest is entirely subjugated to the Green agenda and rising Continental dependence on Russia. Recent events make that an unlikely future.

    • Mark
      Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      So far there have been 193 wells drilled at Wytch Farm, including 4 last year: more will be drilled in the coming years. They have flares there too – and gas production. Flares are mainly a safety and environmental measure, and flare burnoff is minimised for economic reasons – it really doesn’t make sense to burn gas just for the fun of it rather than sell it or use it to generate power. Modern flares for smaller wells are typically enclosed, which is one reason you may not even be aware of safety flaring taking place (mostly at just a “pilot light” level in any case). Tall towers are not required.

      The amount of drilling required to sustain production provides steady employment – and is much less than is commonly assumed. The resource that has been identified so far will take many decades to exploit, so activity will be spread over that time, and older sites will be remediated and relinquished as time passes. An individual well can have multiple sidetracks in different directions at at different levels in the gas bearing rock – the Bowland shale is typically a mile thick, allowing the same wellhead to be reused to extract from different parts of the formation.

      You are wrong in your assertion that no recommendations from the Royal Society’s report have been implemented. For example, there is an agreed programme of seismic monitoring: the OFFUGO quango was created to take the lead in regulation a year ago, and doubtless they have been formalising some of the other recommendations, at least some of which were already standard industry practice anyway. You can also be sure that the industry is required to insure against accidents in just the same way that you are required to insure yourself to drive a car.

      Your Cornell professor’s work has been widely debunked, including for example here:


  30. Mark
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    There has been a lot of gas related activity in my neighbourhood over the last 2-3 years that has produced no protest and little comment. It’s still going on, and it’s far more disruptive than drilling for new supplies. It’s the replacement of gas mains that gives rise to road works and traffic delays.

    If we can handle that activity, it shows that there would in practice be little effect from onshore drilling on people’s everyday lives. It is the propaganda pumped out by the media (in particular the BBC) and shamefully supported by arms of government that aims to treat such activity as by ogres.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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