Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Fracking Across The Globe

Been a bit busy of late but a couple of Grauniad headlines still caught the attention over the weekend, starting with the latest update from the increasingly active northern shale gas drilling scene:
Shale gas firm Cuadrilla brands anti-fracking activists 'irresponsible'  -  CEO Francis Egan complains about protesters ‘harassing’ contractors supplying Preston New Road site in Lancashire
Yes, after a very long hiatus the North of England Shale Show is back on the road!  Or being hindered by a roadblock, as it would seem, because there's plenty of pesky opposition - the usual combination of genuinely local nimbys, misinformed 'ordinary people' with too much time on their hands, and itinerant swampies now trading as Reclaim The Power.  (You'd imagine the hyperventilating hoards of Momentum wouldn't be far behind, except that they are fully occupied with fratricide just now.  And I'm guessing t'unions may have told Corbyn to keep out of it, based on how they made him support nuclear in Copeland.)   An enjoyable line in outdoor relief for all concerned (plus overtime for Old Bill) - except for the local contractors.

But shale in the UK never looked to be a near-term phenomenon (we've discussed this all before).  Even if the reserves are as big as Cuadrilla believe, in broad-spectrum practical terms they just ain't particularly accessible.  A far cry from the USA, where the recent OPEC-driven rise in oil price is, though rather modest by the standards of 2010-2014 prices, more than enough to re-ignite the mighty shale-drilling activity there, oil and gas.  This comes as a big shock to legions of idiots who consoled themselves with the thought that shale needed a price of $100 - or was it $80? - or $60? - to be viable.  Sorry, but technology doesn't work like that: it gets better and better, cheaper and cheaper, and always surprises idiots.  If in doubt, go short - because there's always more stuff out there than anyone thinks. 

This leads to another mighty quandry for all the antis who thought they could put moral / financial pressure on big companies and pension funds etc, to effect some kind of investment boycott of the fossil fuel industries, and force the authorities to mark down oil company oil reserves as stranded and worthless.  Why, the Grauniad itself even tried to run a campaign along these lines. Which brings us to the second headline:
Environmentalists urge French bank not to finance Texas fracking project Activist points to ‘hypocrisy’ in BNP Paribas’s involvement in south Texas export terminal, given bank’s claimed commitment to the environment
Well, sorry guys but shale in the USA is 100% mainstream now and you won't actually find a major bank or indeed any other financial institution that isn't already 'in'.  Because, as we know, shale is going to make the USA self-sufficient in energy as far forward as anyone can see, with momentous geo-political implications.  And that's before Venezuela lets rip, because they have more accessible shale oil reserves than Saudi has 'conventional' oil.  And (when they need the extra reserves) Russia has more gas than the world will ever need.

And the IEA - which is seriously schizophrenic on this issue, BTW - thinks we need much, much more oil ... (well, that's what it thinks this month).

Anyhow, Swampy and Cuadrilla will no doubt continue to slug it out in Lancashire.  But they are a sideshow of such small proportions, it'll make Paul Mason's head explode one day.



david morris said...

If in doubt, go short - because there's always more stuff (oil presumably) out there than anyone thinks.


Peak Oil was/is bollox

Who knew ?

Nick Drew said...

It is indeed bollox

(but EROEI is not)

And not just oil, David - consider, for example, the EU ETS CO2 emissions scheme. Oh, the price of abating CO2 was going to be EUR 30 per tonne and rising. Wrong!

or the UK Capacity Mechanism in electricity. The cost of providing incremental generating capacity would be £40/MWh. Wrong!

Always more stuff. (I did tell them ...)

Sackerson said...

If EROEI drops, as seems inevitable, will energy prices have to rise?

Dan said...

Peak energy is also bollocks in many ways. Thorium is more common than uranium, and there is only one common isotope of thorium, so every bit of the stuff you dig up can be used in reactors. Thorium also breaks down into smaller, non-radioactive chunks much more easily than either uranium or plutonium, so you don't need quite so big a logistics tail for thorium reactors.

So, let's see now...

We have a nuclear technology suited to the running of big ships and small local power generation. We have shedloads more oil than we'll ever need. We have some scientists who recently calculated that pretty much all the recent climate changes seen are down to resonant orbital changes in the orbits of Earth and Mars, plus the most up to date climate records fail to notice any significant warming at all.

Game on, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

The problem is how to make nuclear commercially viable.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

We have some scientists who recently calculated that pretty much all the recent climate changes seen are down to resonant orbital changes in the orbits of Earth and Mars, plus the most up to date climate records fail to notice any significant warming at all.

.. got a link for that?

Anonymous said...

Dan - I agree, but there's not a lot (0) of thorium research in the UK, some in India and China I think. Maybe we'll end up buying from them like we do for everything else. Pity we can't scrap HS2, put the money into a thorium programme and perhaps divert a few good young physicists from the City and GCHQ into something positive.

Assuming it's viable, we still can't produce infinite amounts of energy cos we have to get rid of the heat (or possibly lose our atmosphere).

Elby the Beserk said...

Time the Peelers did their job and banged a few heads.

Blue Eyes said...

I am against any theory which comes across as Malthusian. I have faith in human ingenuity, which is why I was never worried about "peak oil" and why the green panic will be solved before it becomes a serious issue. UK carbon emissions down 6% in one year thanks to switching from coal to gas. Still some scope for further reductions by getting rid of coal althogether, then.

Let's allow fracking, while also making sure the regime encourages renewable technologies to become more viable.

It wasn't that long ago that people worried that the volume of horse manure would eventually swamp our cities. The days when dodgy VW diesel cars and powering factories with fossil fuels will soon be ancient history.

Anonymous said...

ND, what a timely post - oil down 6% in three days !

Nick Drew said...

Indeed. Haven't seen a proper explanation yet - - ?