It has taken a while but after years of debate, protest and controversy, it seems, finally, as if the frackers are coming. A drilling rig will trundle on to a site near Blackpool next year, there will be some predictable hullaballoo and a watershed will have been crossed by the shale gas industry. Cuadrilla has been granted a permit to use hydraulic fracturing at two wells at a site at Preston New Road. The company believes that Lancashire could be as rich in shale gas as it once was in coal, opening up a new industry with huge potential. Indeed, the sector’s supporters claim that fracking could reinvigorate British manufacturing by providing an affordable new, home-produced source of fuel. British frackers probably shouldn’t get too carried away. For one thing, it hasn’t been demonstrated whether UK shale will be economic to extract. Although deposits exist, big variations exist in the cost of shale gas extraction because of the quality of the rocks and the complexity involved in exploiting them. In the US, for example, shale produced from the Marcellus and Eagle Ford deposits in Pennsylvania and Texas is much cheaper to extract than the pricier Bakken formation of the Midwest. The sheer scale of the fracking boom in the US is sometimes overlooked. In America more than 300,000 wells have been fracked, mostly in relatively empty parts of the country. In contrast, Lancashire and other parts of Britain are likely to be far tougher to develop. That’s not only because of stricter planning rules but also because they are densely populated. Cuadrilla now faces a long road executing its plans, amid intense local opposition and environmental concerns over climate change, noise, pollution, minor earthquakes and damage to local habitats. Unless things change dramatically, it’s hard to see how all of this bother is likely to amount to a compelling business model for Cuadrilla. I may be proved wrong, but I wonder if it will turn out to be cheaper and easier to follow Ineos’s example and import shale gas from the US by ship.
Times 10th Oct 2016 read more »
Slowing down construction of coal-fired power stations will be vital to hit globally agreed climate change goals, the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, said as he outlined a five-point plan to flesh out last year’s Paris agreement to reduce CO2 emissions. Speaking at a climate ministerial meeting in Washington during the bank’s annual meeting, he said there was no prospect of keeping global warming at or below 2C (3.6F) if current plans for coal-fired stations, especially those earmarked for Asia, were built. “Many countries want to move in the right direction. We can and should all help to find renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions that al low them to phase out coal,” Kim said. The World Bank president said achieving the climate change target required action in five areas. In addition to slowing down growth in coal-fired power stations, Kim said climate ambition needed to be baked into development plans for every developing country. It was important that the $90bn (Â£72bn) of planned infrastructure spending over the next 15 years was for low-CO2 and climate-resilient investment.
Guardian 9th Oct 2016 read more »