flood-risk

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fracking Facts - yes to Fracking?

Fracking how it works.
A couple of years ago I read an interesting article in the Spectator regarding Shale gas and how Fracking had transformed the energy market and cut American gas prices in half, this had resulted in the term re-shoring where manufacturing business’s were returning to the US as the reduction in costs had transformed the economic prospects for manufacturing in the USA

So it was with some alarm when I read the stories from various eco lobby groups regarding the “dangerous chemicals” that that were used in the Fracking process. So I thought it should be something I should find out about and the South Downs National Park’s invitation to Arun to attend a seminar regarding gas and oil exploration seemed an ideal opportunity to find out the facts.

Peter Style, Professor in Applied and Environmental Geophysics at Keele University, explained that the “dangerous chemicals” were in fact ordinary water, sand, lemon juice (Acidic acid), gum (as in fruit gum) and salt. He also explained that shale gas was the same as North Sea natural gas and to extract this gas water is pumped into the ground at very high pressure which causes fissions in the rock (cracks) which released the gas.  The water and the gas is then sucked out, the water is used again in a repeat of the process and the gas is stored for energy use
Oil has been extracted locally in Sussex since early in the 20th century, there are strict rules in how the drill hole is configured, three layers of  3  quarter inch steel piping is used with layers of concrete in-between, the drill goes way below the water table and if configured to governments rules correctly, cannot pollute the water table.  In fact in all the decades that this has happened in Sussex, I am not aware of any polluting of the water table, Fracking extraction will follow the same rules in drilling.

In the UK we have some real energy structural problems, for many years we have had fuel security and cheap gas and oil from the North Sea and because of this we have had a ready reservoir of gas.  But our supplies have declined and we are now importing a large percentage of our gas at the world spot price.  We only have 14 days of gas storage in the UK where as France and Germany have more than 100 day’s storage.  We should have built storages facilities and new nuclear stations, this leaves us exposed to world spikes in gas prices and because we only have 14 days storage, we have no choice when we buy, where as Germany can take advantage of the peaks and troughs and buy when the price is best. So it is with irritation that I see Ed Miliband pronouncing on the energy market, when as Energy secretary he never made the difficult decisions of building gas storage or new nuclear power stations.

Hard pressed family’s need a reliable and cheap source of energy, I believe shale gas provides us with fuel security and an alternative to dirty coal. Also an overlooked fact is as a result of displacement of coal in the USA, all the dirty coal that is being mined in the US is being sold to the UK; undermining our own coal industry and encouraging generators to burn high carbon coal instead of much lower carbon gas

I think because the last government, particularly Ed Miliband didn’t make the difficult decisions on our energy infrastructure that’s we are in greater danger of blackouts because of this, but this can probably be mitigated by building quick build gas power stations, but this will make us more reliant on gas and volatile world spot markets unless we decide to develop Fracking.  But if this happens there has to be a big financial payback to Sussex communities to compensate them for development, not the meagre £100,000 that the government is currently talking about.  So many of our politicians are sitting on the fence on this subject, what we need is clear leadership and decisive action, so for the record I am in favour of Fracking, so lets get on with it.


Until next month’s report, you can  contact me via email Pauldendle@aol.com   Paul Dendle is Arundel Ward & Cabinet Member for the Environment on Arun District Council.

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