Wednesday 2 March 2022

When does fracking sidle back onto the UK agenda?

It's kinda noteworthy that, the ruckus over the Cambo field notwithstanding, several more North Sea licences are under consideration.   And the Climate Change Committee (under silly "Lord Deben") has correctly opined that, while they'd prefer new licences not be granted, it's a purely political matter having nothing to do with objective reckoning of whether it would increase global CO2 emissions (which it wouldn't).  Ah, COP26 seems so long ago now ...

Of course the greenie-left is trying to get its retaliation in first, having spotted (again, correctly) what they take to be a great argument, namely that increased UK production would have no impact on the world price of oil or gas - so we wouldn't pay any less for our domestic energy.  AND - shock, horror - we might even export the stuff!  True, as far as it goes - but it misses two critical details that in my book invalidate the objection entirely.  (a) they are wrong about the price impact as regards local prices which would indeed fall (by a small amount), that being the transportation cost differential between home-grown and imports; (b) the Exchequer would gain mightily from the tax they would levy on the profits arising, there being clear daylight between production costs and today's high oil & gas prices.  All this atop the jobs created etc etc.

So:  perhaps some new offshore O&G licences first, & then see how the land lies?  Before getting back to the really interesting topic of fracking.  Incidentally, I am the last one to minimise the practical difficulties involved in fracking in the UK (we had many a thread on this several years ago); but the amounts of gas are so immense, and the value so high, we could afford to do the job really well and avoid, minimise, or handsomely compensate for any downsides.  There's no getting away from the political price that would be paid just now ...  but give it time: that shale gas ain't going anywhere.  And Germany seems to have changed its energy policy (as well as its military policy) quite significantly in the past few days.  The Ukraine factor might yet have transformative effects here, too.



djm said...

So what you're saying, ND,

is that it's time for the adults in the room to have a proper discussion, whilst little GumGum & DoomGoblin get sent to bed early ?

DJK said...

These adults, of which you speak, where are they to be found in the Conservative party or the civil service?

Quite a change from Germany this week. They are planning a Euro 100 Bn defence budget next year (ours is about Euro 47 Bn). How do we feel about living under the protection of a rearmed Germany?

E-K said...

Well. The progress towards fracking is more glacial than the Arctic ice melt that started its retreat from England, oooh, 12 thousand years ago and without factory chimney or Mondeo in sight.

Don Cox said...

Even if we avoid a world war, the next few years are going to be tough. If we are very lucky, global warming will give us another mild winter or two.

I will be surprised if a working fusion device is not in operation by 2030, but it will still take years (and lots of money) to build all the units we need in Britain.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

Germany may re-arm and integrate into the EU Military Service side lining the UK's "Global British" contribution but they'll still need our energy (or Russia's)

E-K said...

A new cold war in an already depleted West.

If we're lucky. IF we're lucky we get bled dry like Reagan and Thatcher did Gorbachev in an unaffordable arms race.

A hot war will set greenism back some way.

Tom Paine said...

I would like to think that was true, but I fear our Government and Civil Service are captives of woke academia and Green "thought". Even war may not jolt them back to their senses.

jim said...

Some seem to conflate the possibility of shortage/higher prices with using less 'green' sources. Some even seem to think this justifies dumping the green agenda. A bit like hiding ones head in the sand.

But we are going to be between a rock and a hard place. Professional liars (politicians and lawyers) and their hangers on will definitely row back the green agenda. Making out it is all kids stuff fools no one. That problem will still bite us on the arse.

Meanwhile the net-zero agenda looks very empty - why - because it can't be done, well not at an affordable price. Just last week a little bit of wind knocked my house off the grid for a week, not that I am isolated - far from it. But the infrastructure we have is a fragile spiders web that just growed, with little resilience and less monitoring of which bits work and which not. Not really the basis for a realistic electric car rollout.

My house got cold - very cold. It took a lot of logs on the fire to keep one room warm. But to effectively insulate this very old/old/not so old house would be an expensive nightmare. Pulling up the floorboards for bigger pipework another nightmare. So we return to sucking up to Putin for gas and lying to ourselves about the green agenda - what a wonderful start to 2022.

Anonymous said...

Jeez little kungfu Kevin is having a whinge up again.
Hope you knee gets better soon and you can get outside away from the keyboard.

E-K said...

Nice one, Ivan. Made me laugh.

James Higham said...

Don't know why it was ever off the agenda. A mix of various energy sources is surely desirable, inc. nuclear.

L fairfax said...

Can I suggest that everyone signs this petition
If it gets debated it could be embarrassing for Boris.

Anonymous said...

Record gas prices. If NATO or Russia pulls the plug they'll go ballistic.
Wheat and fertiliser sky high.
Inflation what now, 7%?
Record UK house prices, so Boris invites 3m Chinese, 200k Ukrainians, 20,000 Afghans plus 50,000 Dover arrivals each year.

So let's kick off an economic war with the second largest oil exporter and largest gas exporter. Brilliant, just brilliant. There was quite enough hardship already - my middle-class town has two food banks - now it's going to be a lot worse, when the big gas/electric price increases kick in. Let's hope people can eat rhetoric and clothe their kids in blue and yellow flags.

Meanwhile Germany, having shot themselves in one leg by stopping NS2, has stopped shooting itself in the other leg and is keeping open all those lovely lignite-fuelled power stations (like us, they closed their deep mines) as well as the few nuke stations they've not already closed.

Rheinmetall AG up about 70%. The good(?) news is that Germans, for good or ill, aren't what they were 1900-1945.

DJK said...

Anon: All of this is bothering me too. RPI is already 7.8%, and that is before the gas/leccy prices start increasing. In April we also have Rishi's tax increases so we're looking at some serious economic pain. Meanwhile the government are doing their best to increase house prices even further, so not good news for young people.

Some days ago there were reports of all the strategic stuff that Russia supplies. So what happens to inflation when the Russians apply some counter sanctions of their own?

Meanwhile, we're heading into Cold War 2. It's not just the Germans doubling their defence budget, anything Russian is getting banned (visits from the Bolshoi, Valery Gergiev). Direct flights are ceasing, so we're going back to the days of an Iron Curtain. Not good.

decnine said...

When Hillingdon freezes over

Sobers said...

"I will be surprised if a working fusion device is not in operation by 2030"

Prepare to be surprised. Fusion was 'just around the corner' 35 years ago when I was at school (I went to school not far from the Culham JET Lab, which had just opened). And lo and behold just recently they managed to get their pension fund (sorry, scientific project) to produce the stunning amount of 59 megajoules of heat(or enough to power 60 kettles). 60 kettles worth of power after 35 years. And they put more electric in than that so they didn't actually generate anything in net terms. And it only costs £60m/year, what a bargain!

Anonymous said...

"I will be surprised if a working fusion device is not in operation by 2030"

Fusion has been ten years away since about 1975. We've been trying for a very long time, and we wouldn't even be at the current stage without the Evil Empire showing us the Tokamak, and all fusion reactors since have used the idea.

"In 1968, the Soviets held the periodic meeting of fusion researchers in Novosibirsk, where they introduced data from their T-3 tokamak. This represented a dramatic leap in fusion performance, at least 10 times what the best machines in the world had produced to that point. The results were so good that some dismissed them as faulty measurements. To counter this, the Soviets invited a team from the UK to independently test their machine. Their 1969 report confirmed the Soviet results, resulting in a "veritable stampede" of tokamak construction around the world."

50 years and 100 tokamaks later, no power.

Don Cox said...

I think it's been clear for a while that Tokamaks are not the way to do fusion. None of the companies who working on fusion seriously are building Tokamaks.

Iter in particular is leading nowhere. However, it may give some interesting physics results.


dearieme said...

I dispute this "next ten years" argument. I'll swear it's been next forty years throughout my life.

P.S. Am I alone in finding the bullying of Russian conductors and the like petty and nasty? We wouldn't treat Yanks like that just because a twat of a President started a war against a sovereign state, as commonly occurs. Indeed we didn't treat ourselves like that when we attacked a sovereign Slav nation viz Serbia.

DJK said...

BBC reports that the French and German governments have started confiscating yachts from Russian oligarchs. The Americans have already announced they're freezing Russian central bank assets, presumably in preparation for confiscating them, as they did with assets of the central banks of Venezuela and Afghanistan. So I'm curious, how does that work? Are we just allowed to grab anything that belongs to a Russian now?

Dearime: You're not alone.

Thud said...

Dearieme, no twat of a president has threatened to nuke us.....see how that works?

E-K said...

DJK - and even if it serves its purpose (Oligarchs being targeted.)

Hard Man Putin was one of the few Presidents who could deliver an orderly dismantling of the USSR leaving the Russian Federation intact and saving us from it splintering into lots of nuclear-armed and unstable regions.

We don't do regime change very well.

Are we not in any way at all culpable for the situation in Ukraine ?

Glad to see that Yannis Varoufakis says "Washington and Moscow should come together and reach an agreement whereby Ukraine remains neutral and Russia withdraws. Anything else [from both sides] is war mongering."

Sobers said...

@dearieme: apparently its racist to make any comment about covid coming from China etc, but fine to blame all Russian citizens for the actions of their government.

I suspect if Putin wasn't white he wouldn't be getting half as much heat from the usual suspects. When Xi invades Taiwan we'll be told 'Well Taiwan is historically part of China, so its only to be expected they want it back, move along, nothing to see here'.

dearieme said...

"no twat of a [US] president has threatened to nuke us": how on earth do you know that?

Or do they just threaten to finance the IRA again?

dearieme said...

On which point, be it noted that Germany and France did try to use Brussels to set the IRA into action again recently, didn't they? Great allies them.

Thud said...

The IRA being some sort of existential threat? try again.