To Frack or Not to Frack?

UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said:(On August 20th) “Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.

“It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls. Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use.”

Four large blocks of land covering the majority of the borough of Rotherham have been offered to leading names in the energy exploration industry as the Government pushes ahead with making shale gas a part of the UK’s energy mix.
A type of natural gas, shale gas has the potential to become an important energy source for the UK, as it is in the US, but extracting the gas using a method called “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing) has negative environmental impacts.

In 2013, an independent survey identified that the whole borough of Rotherham could be sitting on reserves of shale gas. Now the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) – the UK’s oil and gas regulator – has announced that 27 onshore blocks will be offered to companies.
Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs), provide the first step to starting drilling – but do not give absolute agreement to drill. On top of a licence, any further drilling application will then require planning permission, as well as permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.

IGas has been offered block SK49 which covers Swinton, Kilnhurst, Rawmarsh, Parkgate, Greasborough, Kimberworth, Thrybergh, Ravenfield, Eastwood, the town centre, Flanderwell, Bramley, Wickersley, Herringthorpe, Canklow and Whiston.

IGas is partnering with Egdon Resources, the company which already owns the PEDL for the adjacent area around Maltby (PEDL043). Egdon is working with international energy firm, Total, who has already put forward £30m to deliver up to three shale gas wells in nearby areas. With other offered blocks, Total will have a 50% interest and Egdon a 15% interest. IGas will be operator of the licences with a 35% interest.

SK48 has been offered to INEOS and includes Brinsworth, Catcliffe, Treeton, Waverley, Thurcroft, Ulley, Aughton, Aston, Todwick, Wales, Rother Valley and Harthill.

INEOS has also been offered SK58a which includes Dinnington, North Anston, South Anston, Woodsetts and Thorpe Salvin. SK58a is adjacent to the already approved PEDL200 that covers Firbeck, Laughton en le Morthern and parts of Thurcroft and Dinnington and is owned by Dart Energy.                                                                      Alkane Energy plc generates energy from coal bed methane (CBM) at Manvers and recently submitted a planning application that would allow it to drill into the previous coal mine workings in the Dearne Valley in the search of further energy sources.                         If CBM extraction is carefully controlled and monitored then methane gas should not escape into the atmosphere in any great quantity. Problem is Methane is a ‘Greenhouse gas’ which according to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has a global warming potential which is 21 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100 year time horizon and the biggest problem with CBM is containment.                        Shale gas planning applications are set to be fast-tracked through a new, dedicated planning process. Previous announcements include offers of £100,000 for communities situated near each exploratory well, and 1% of revenues from every production site.                                                                                                  

The Anti Fracking Groups are well organised and publish reams of statistics and data which claim to show Fracking Is A Bad Idea. They may be right. They could be wrong.

Hydraulic Fracturing aka ‘Fracking’ was first used in the 1950’s so it is nothing new.
In the Nottinghamshire village of Beckingham fields have been fracked for oil and gas for decades.
The occasional passing tanker is one of the few clues that oil is being extracted from under the ground. Next to the fields is Beckingham Marshes, a wet grassland habitat managed by the RSPB.
The charity has objected to fracking for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex but has not objected to fracking at Beckingham Marshes. Why not? Because Shale fracking and fracking are two different things.
This is where the anti’s get their facts wrong, there is no history of shale fracking in Britain, consequently they protest about something none of us has knowledge or experience of.
A distinction can be made between conventional or low-volume hydraulic fracturing used to stimulate high-permeability reservoirs to frack a single well, and unconventional or high-volume hydraulic fracturing, used in the completion of tight gas and shale gas wells as unconventional wells are deeper and require higher pressures than conventional vertical wells. In addition to hydraulic fracturing of vertical wells, it is also performed in horizontal wells. When done in already highly permeable reservoirs such as sandstone-based wells, the technique is known as “well stimulation”.
So are the anti’s protesting about low volume or high volume fracking? Rock or Shale fracking?
Do they have any solid evidence to validate their protests or do they rely on anecdotes and hearsay? (Mainly from the USA and Canada)

I agree with some of their comments, we need to know a lot more about fracking but we also know Britain is reliant on massive imports of LNG,oil,coal and electricity from other countries and we are at the mercy of exchange rates and political mood swings.


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12 Responses to To Frack or Not to Frack?

  1. Hilary Estrada-Haigh says:

    Fracking is not environmentally friendly when you consider the amount of water used to extract shale gas.


  2. Mick Colman says:

    Apologies if I seemed to be repeating myself over the past few days. It was not intentional. I had been visiting my Sister in the north east and her internet connection was very slow. I thought that my posts were not getting through and re-did and re-sent them a few times only to find that they actually did all get posted. I think that you will get the points that I was trying to make though. I look forward to reading other peoples points of view on this in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Watchman says:

    Some interesting comments.

    Although hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom has been common in North Sea oil and gas fields since the late 1970s,and has been used in about 200 British onshore oil and gas wells since the early 1980s, the technique did not attract public attention until its use was proposed for onshore shale gas wells in 2007 and 2008. Although hydraulic fracturing is often used synonymously to refer to shale gas and other unconventional oil and gas sources, it is not always correct to associate it with unconventional gas.
    Shale gas, and fracking, sounds scary in comparison with the conventional production that we’ve had for a hundred years. However, when you break things down and look at the major objections to shale gas, are they much different to conventional operations? Wellbore integrity (and the risk of gas leakage from wells) is as much an issue for conventional gas as it is for shale. Dealing with contaminated produced water is always an issue for conventional reservoirs, much as it will be for shale. Induced seismicity happens for both conventional and shale. Shale gas will likely have more wells, and so a greater surface impact, than conventional gas, but this is an incremental increase, not a game changer, while much of the related infrastructure – pipelines, processing facilities etc – will be similar. Intellectual honesty would dictate that if you are opposed to shale gas extraction for these reasons, you should be equally opposed to conventional onshore gas extraction.

    Given this, would a better description for those opposed to shale gas development in the UK be ‘anti-onshore gas development’, rather than ‘anti-fracking’ or ‘anti-shale-gas’?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mick Colman says:

    I would like to comment on this further by saying this. I would be prepared to listen to and accept any arguments for fracking, any sort of fracking but I will take a lot of convincing that fracking is the way forward for energy production. There are much more gentle energy production alternatives available, all of which are ripe for improvement and all with no threat to the environment or indeed the very future of our planets existence. Wind and solar power works, we can all see that. All these need is continued development. Both of these pose no threat whatsoever to the environment. Sea and ocean wave power hasn’t even been seriously looked at. The article informs us that there is two forms of fracking IE. shale fracking and just fracking. The article goes on to suggest that there is a difference between the two. I respectfully disagree. Fracking is fracking. It means unnaturally fracturing the Earths structure using high pressure hydraulic forces to release oil or gas from deeper in the Earths structure than scraping the surface such as coal mining or oil wells. Its like nibbling a bit of cheese then complaining when there’s none left. Except its not a bit of cheese, its our, and our childrens very future. This is not something that should be fobbed off and left to Lord “not on my doorstep” Bournes not negotiable decision that imposes fracking activities on North Anston. We should respectfully tell him to sod off and frack to his hearts content in Aberystwyth..


  5. Veritas. says:

    This article is one of the very few that shows complete neutrality in the debate about fracking.
    I did not know about Shale Gas fracking and the author is to be congratulated for a well researched and well written piece that explains the pros and cons in plain language.
    I understand M.Coleman’s concerns about gas extraction and the possible desecration of our beautiful countryside and I also agree we need more information. I am not against fracking per se but I want more information about the sub strata in our area and I want to see solid evidence that shows the possible effects of shale fracking on water sources.
    CBM has not attracted large scale investment. There are a number of small but commercially viable mine vent gas operations in current production. Although there is a wealth of National Coal Board borehole data, publicly released recent CBM well and core test data is limited.
    We need to safeguard our energy future and fracking and/or CBM gas extraction could help to reduce our massive imports of other energy sources.


    • Mick Colman says:

      Veritas, I would just like to re-iterate what I said previously that desecration of our countryside was not my concern. It is what will go on below ground that worries me. Please understand that I am not having a go at yourself or your comment but would you build a house then inject acid into the foundations? No, you wouldn’t, but Lord muck wants to do this in South Yorkshire. Like I said in a previous comment, I need more info. But I have a basic adversion to fracking, especially when it is under my feet.


  6. Mick Colman says:

    My concern is not the above ground activities or results that fracking may cause, as these are mostly already in hand through current legistasion, but the unseen, out of sight, out of mind activities that may or may not occur below the very surface that our world is built on. No amount of money can compensate for our Grandchildren to witness the destruction of Earth. Please don’t say it cant happen, it can. Just because we are destructing our planet bit by bit dosn’t make it OK. Nothing less than thorough research into any form of fracking should be carried out and then we should ask ouselves ” ARE WE GOING TO TAKE THE BLOOD MONEY NOW AND SOD THE CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR CHILDREN AND OUR CHILDRENS CHILDERENS AFTER WE ARE GONE?”


  7. S Thornton says:

    I am in favour of “fracking” in principle, if its proved to be safe. I would also require to be convinced that it is not going to create widespread pollution. I think the so called “anti fracking” groups should not be led down the “loony” path by “eco warriors” who are hell bent on stopping everything. What people need is unbiased information, Just a point to ponder, Fracking will not leave the spoil tips of mining, or kill the locals with “dust lung”. Very few objected to this type of eco destruction in the past, so if it comes, it may not be all doom and gloom. If the government keep their promise, the local communities may even benefit financially to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Keep an open mind at present.


    • Mick Colman says:

      I cant say that I am in favour or against until I am presented with the facts, which I believe are very sparse at this time. I am not so concerned about above ground advantages or disadvantages but more concerned about below ground disadvantages as there can surely be no advantages of drilling deep holes into the earth then exposing the very basis of our world to high pressure hydraulic forces. We are blessed with a comparatively earthquake free environment here in Anston. Do we want to be responsible for change? Not on my watch or at least not until I know that we are not risking our grand childens very existence.


  8. Mick Colman says:

    A very good article, well composed. I agree with mjtawn but would like to add that if the proposals are true then we need to educate ourselves with extreme urgency. They want to do this very contentious activity ON OUR DOOR STEP. I am 66 years old and fracking is unlikely to affect me personally but I am extremely concerned for the safety of future generations who may well ask “Why did they allow this to happen?” It must be investigated. Maybe it is time to ask the question, Just how much can we take out of our planet WITHOUT PUTTING ANYTHING BACK?


  9. mjtawn says:

    Very interesting read. Certainly shows we must better educate ourselves before making decisions and joining either the Pro or Anti camp.


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