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The Real Reason We Can’t Develop Shale Gas

December 1, 2011



The UK is potentially sitting on enough shale gas to make us energy self sufficient for the rest of this century, if not a lot longer.

So why are we not actively developing it?

Gas shales are formations of organic-rich shale, a sedimentary rock formed from deposits of mud, silt, clay, and organic matter. In the past these have not been seen as exploitable resources, however, advances in drilling and well stimulation technology has meant that ‘unconventional’ production of gas from these, less permeable, shale formations can be achieved. In the US, shale gas has grown from 1.4% of total gas supply in 1990 to 14.3% in 2009. Estimates of recoverable reserves increase each year and production is forecast to increase by 266% by 2035. Furthermore, the cost of shale gas is much lower than imported gas.

It is believed that the UK has some of the largest reserves in Europe, which would be developed by private investors without the need for taxpayer subsidies or surcharges on energy bills that wind power needs to be cost effective. Indeed it is likely that energy costs would fall substantially from the already cripplingly high levels. Under the current renewable policy, energy prices will rise much further which can only cause huge damage to UK industry and the economy in general.

Of course, as with other forms of energy production (even wind power) there are environmental issues that need to be addressed. Indeed all industrial processes carry some level of risk. However, it is certain that the EPA would have shut down production in the US if there had been any real problems. Also a British Gas operation has been running in the UK for 15 years without any problems.

The UK based Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which was set up to “to be an internationally recognised source of high quality and integrated climate-change research, and to exert a seminal influence on the design and achievability of the long-term strategic objectives of national and international climate policy”, has produced a report which assesses the environmental and climate change impacts of shale gas.

While the report highlights potential problems, it stresses that the risk of these can be kept within ““acceptable levels” as long as there is a rigorous monitoring regime.” As Tyndall’s Kevin Anderson, who wrote the report, says “With bad practice, there is a risk, but with proper regulation the environmental impacts could be brought to the levels we deem acceptable for natural gas.”. As for the possibility of earthquakes Professor Anderson states “earthquakes were not an argument we use against shale gas in any way”.

The Tyndall Report makes it crystal clear why they oppose the expansion of shale gas production in the UK when it says “large scale extraction of shale gas cannot be reconciled with the climate change commitments enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord (2009)”. It even makes the ludicrous statement “even if shale gas were to substitute for imported gas in the UK, leading to no rise in emissions, it is likely that this gas would just be used elsewhere”. Doh! So won’t the same apply when we have built 20,000 windmills and stop importing gas?

No mention of the huge economic benefits shale gas would bring. The Report does mention energy security, saying “While a strong case could be made for the domestic extraction of shale gas from an energy security basis – replacing a proportion of imported gas with domestic production, this is not the focus of this report”. Apparently, what is more important is the need to avoid “jeopardising the UK’s international reputation on climate change”.

What is absolutely certain is that other countries will develop their shale gas and other fossil fuel reserves, but at least our leaders’ reputations will be intact.

I am grateful for this report though, because it makes it crystal that Chris Huhne has been lying . According to Huhne, the low carbon strategy is not simply about global warming. It is also about :-

1) Ensuring the UK’s energy security by reducing our dependence on imported oil and gas.

2) Renewable energy in the long term being cheaper than fossil fuels which would increase in price as they become ever scarcer.

A sensible program of developing our shale gas would meet both of these objectives. Huhne and the rest of our governing class are lying. To quote Jeremy Clarkson they should be “taken outside and shot”. But perhaps that would be too good for them.


The full report “Shale Gas : an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts” is here.

  1. Mike Davis permalink
    December 3, 2011 2:26 am

    They need to promote the negative as they are being paid by the importers that get a percentage of the transaction. 1% of 100 is greater than 1 % of 10 so it is important they raise the prices and keep the suppliers happy.
    Putting more people to work when cheaper energy is available would put more money into circulation and raise the standard of living. That can not be allowed, because fewer people would be depending on government handouts.

  2. fenbeagleblog permalink
    December 4, 2011 6:20 pm

    The Huhdini Hunhe Huh, has a black heart, but is well ahead of you. He will spoil Christmas and there is nothing you can do about it…..

  3. George permalink
    December 4, 2011 11:38 pm

    I believe Tyndall Centre should be shuttered. It’s purpose, in my opinion, is to close the profit loop from the research at CRU. CRU collects grant money for research which it feeds into IPCC. IPCC then feeds policy recommendations to UNFCCC, and Tyndall collects money from various government agencies (DEFRA et al) from assisting in creating the regulations that implement the UNFCCC policies. UEA rakes in cash at every point in the process.

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