Do you believe fracking in the UK will bring lower consumer energy costs?

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  • edited 3 October 2013 at 7:39AM
    Andy_WSMAndy_WSM Forumite
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    edited 3 October 2013 at 7:39AM
    About 6 years as a conservative estimate, glad my kids energy worries will be sorted and there will be no lasting damage from fracking and not using any other resources that are in short supply (h2o).

    This just shows a lack of understanding tbh. Every source I can find states upwards of 25 years of supply, maybe as much as 50 or even more, so your kids will be ok after all: http://fullfact.org/factchecks/david_cameron_prime_minister_shale_gas_fracking-29151

    It's not like we are all sat on our hands not coming up with alternatives (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24377296), but every alternative that is suggested meets with so much opposition it either gets canned or becomes prohibitively expensive. When I put solar panels on my house they attracted complaints from 2 neighbours but compliments from many more. You can't please everyone all of the time and fracking seems like a legit next step to me until alternatives are affordable.

    Fracking has already been happening for 30 years in the UK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_Kingdom). Show me evidence of this lasting damage that you are worried about?

    With regards water usage - they're hardly going to tap into the water main and drain our precious drinking water. Last time I checked on a map we are on an island surrounded by water, sometimes even too much water! The wells are carefully constructed so that their depths are way beyond our drinking water reserves - again, I don't see evidence to the contrary.
  • Do you believe fracking in the UK will bring lower consumer energy costs?

    No idea. I'd need to know much more about the energy futures market to answer that. And if I knew that, I wouldn't be here posting! (Well, maybe from the Bahamas)

    But at least fracking may generate a bit of home-grown wealth and reduce our dependence on Russia et al.

    Unless they plan to do it near my house, in which case I'm totally opposed on principled grounds :|
  • PollySouthendPollySouthend Forumite
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    Andy_WSM wrote: »
    This just shows a lack of understanding tbh. Every source I can find states upwards of 25 years of supply, maybe as much as 50 or even more, so your kids will be ok after all: http://fullfact.org/factchecks/david_cameron_prime_minister_shale_gas_fracking-29151

    It's not like we are all sat on our hands not coming up with alternatives (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24377296), but every alternative that is suggested meets with so much opposition it either gets canned or becomes prohibitively expensive. When I put solar panels on my house they attracted complaints from 2 neighbours but compliments from many more. You can't please everyone all of the time and fracking seems like a legit next step to me until alternatives are affordable.

    Fracking has already been happening for 30 years in the UK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_Kingdom). Show me evidence of this lasting damage that you are worried about?

    With regards water usage - they're hardly going to tap into the water main and drain our precious drinking water. Last time I checked on a map we are on an island surrounded by water, sometimes even too much water! The wells are carefully constructed so that their depths are way beyond our drinking water reserves - again, I don't see evidence to the contrary.

    There have been estimates anywhere from 3-108 years, the more recent estimates seam to be much higher, funny that. In the US USGS believes that reserves have been over estimated by at least 100% and some up to 500%.

    Its very different the fracking to sandstone hundreds of miles out at sea to fracking for shale a hundred meters from people homes.

    I don't think they can just use sea water without distilling it first, that is expensive. Water has to come from somewhere. http://www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/challenge-on-gas-fracking

    The water tables are very sensitive and any interference around them will affect them, especially one that involves toxic chemicals. You think these wells will be carefully constructed and not cause any damage, that is wishful.

    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/6th_Dec_-_Shale_gas_-_North_West_-_Monitoring_of_flowback_water_-_update_(3).pdf
  • PollySouthendPollySouthend Forumite
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    bungyboo wrote: »
    But at least fracking may generate a bit of home-grown wealth and reduce our dependence on Russia et al.

    |

    Wealth for whom?
  • Andy_WSMAndy_WSM Forumite
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    There have been estimates anywhere from 3-108 years, the more recent estimates seam to be much higher, funny that. In the US USGS believes that reserves have been over estimated by at least 100% and some up to 500%.

    Its very different the fracking to sandstone hundreds of miles out at sea to fracking for shale a hundred meters from people homes.

    I don't think they can just use sea water without distilling it first, that is expensive. Water has to come from somewhere. http://www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/challenge-on-gas-fracking

    The water tables are very sensitive and any interference around them will affect them, especially one that involves toxic chemicals. You think these wells will be carefully constructed and not cause any damage, that is wishful.

    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/6th_Dec_-_Shale_gas_-_North_West_-_Monitoring_of_flowback_water_-_update_(3).pdf

    It is evident from this and your previous posts on the forum that you are very anti-fracking. Just say so, it's fine, I respect your opinion, in the same way that I'd like to think you respect mine. There are many more people FOR fracking though as we don't want to go back to living in caves, which frankly, if every viable alternative is rejected is where we'd end up once existing fossil fuel supplies run out.
  • PollySouthendPollySouthend Forumite
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    Andy_WSM wrote: »
    It is evident from this and your previous posts on the forum that you are very anti-fracking. Just say so, it's fine, I respect your opinion, in the same way that I'd like to think you respect mine. There are many more people FOR fracking though as we don't want to go back to living in caves, which frankly, if every viable alternative is rejected is where we'd end up once existing fossil fuel supplies run out.
    I'm very anti anything that causes lasting untold damage for future generations to deal with. Fracking is a perfect example of short-term-ism.

    I want to see investment in wave power, but lots of this has been cut. I refuse to believe its either fracking or returning to living in caves.
  • victor2victor2 Forumite, Ambassador
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    I want to see investment in wave power, but lots of this has been cut. I refuse to believe its either fracking or returning to living in caves.

    And you believe that has the potential to meet our energy needs and if done on a large enough scale, won't have any lasting damage to the environment as we know it. After all, wave action has been wherever there are large bodies of water for quite a few years now....
    We all have our opinions, mine is that we need an alternative non-mechanical way of generating electricity on a large scale. Don't see much research into that, maybe because those that are looking into it have hit seemingly insurmountable problems.
    So, a drastic lifestyle change may be the outcome.

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  • PollySouthendPollySouthend Forumite
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    victor2 wrote: »
    And you believe that has the potential to meet our energy needs and if done on a large enough scale, won't have any lasting damage to the environment as we know it. After all, wave action has been wherever there are large bodies of water for quite a few years now....
    We all have our opinions, mine is that we need an alternative non-mechanical way of generating electricity on a large scale. Don't see much research into that, maybe because those that are looking into it have hit seemingly insurmountable problems.
    So, a drastic lifestyle change may be the outcome.

    I didn't say I thought wave alone could meet our energy needs, but anything that could potentially reduce the need of fossil fuels I think is good.

    The decommissioning of a wave would leave very little damage, unlike nuclear and fracking where the high level damage is still there in thousands of years to come.

    Ideally a cup of water could generate electricity, but i fear investment is mainly made in short term fixes.
  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    ... The water tables are very sensitive and any interference around them will affect them, especially one that involves toxic chemicals. You think these wells will be carefully constructed and not cause any damage, that is wishful.

    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/6th_Dec_-_Shale_gas_-_North_West_-_Monitoring_of_flowback_water_-_update_(3).pdf
    Hi

    Interesting .... that report effectively says that water extracted from deep rock strata around Manchester contains the concentrated contents of a dried-up seabed ... how totally unexpected ... salt from the salt-beds in the Cheshire basin being extracted by pumping water underground ... next thing someone will complain about is that they'll likely refine & crystallise the contents of the process, put it into a plastic container, print a best before date on it, then sell it in supermarkets !!

    Okay then, natural by-product considered, so let's now look at the 'toxic' additive used. Appendix2 (P3) of the referenced report above contains an entry labelled "Acrylamide" with a concentration of 0.05μg/l (that's 5 parts per hundred billion for the uninitiated) ... this reflects the additive used as a lubricant in the 'fracking' process (#1) which is actually 'Polyacrylamide', which is a relatively non-toxic variant, not basic 'acrylamide'. If you use soft contact lenses, chances are that they are Polyacrylamide based, therefore if you were to consider that a pair of contact lenses would likely contain ~2g of Acrylamide, the wearer would need to weigh 40000tonnes to achieve the same level of concentration ... that's around half-a-million average sized adults at 12stone (~76kg) each ... leaving contact lenses aside, even at a basic acrylamide (toxic variant) concentration of 0.05μg/l, to match the lower estimate of current food based average intakes for the general population (0.3μg of acrylamide intake per kilogram of body weight per day) (#2), the average 76kg person would need to ingest 22.8μg/day(0.3*76) ... that's the equivalent of drinking over 450litres (22.8/0.05) of the undiluted flowback water from the referenced report, every day .... that's drinking 6 times the average persons bodyweight, or, somewhere between 200 & 300 times the recommended average fluid intake for a healthy adult in a climate similar to the UK.

    In principle, the argument made in the referenced post is correct, however, in when considering context, it's probably just the result of someone, somewhere employing 'scare tactics' ...


    HTH
    Z


    Sources
    (#1) - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking#section-a-water-pollution-use-and-disposal-including-chemicals
    (#2) - http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/chem/en/acrylamide_summary.pdf
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • PollySouthendPollySouthend Forumite
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    zeupater - it can not be proved that fracking will not contaminate water and there is genuine concern it will cause water shortages in local areas. I don't have a scientific background, I just like to air with cation. You are obviously knowledgeable.

    What do you think to these?
    1. So what do YOU suggest instead of gas?
    The argument is not against gas. Nor is it against fracking as such if it can be proved that the process does not lead to the contamination of ground water, cause earthquakes or other damage to the environment, leech radioactive gas into the air and water supply, reduce property values, increase traffic, noise and pollution and put all the profit in the hands of already unbelievably wealthy and powerful individuals.

    We are against the method in use at the moment. This was developed by Halliburton in the very special circumstances which prevail in the US – namely the exemption enjoyed by the US natural gas industry from all federal environmental legislation.
    The principal objection is the use of the toxic chemicals which will poison and pollute the environment. The oil and gas companies claim that their chemicals are the sort used in domestic cleaners and cosmetics, and they may be right. But history shows that the technique as developed in the USA cannot make enough profit using ‘clean’ technology. History also shows quite clearly that the industry has not been honest about the techniques used. Once the concept of hydraulic fracturing is accepted, there will be a vast array of vested interests in making it more profitable. They have friends in high places. They have billions to spend on protecting their interests. They are the same people who have brought about the present financial crisis.

    The campaign also objects to many other elements of the method which are dangerous and the unsustainable. These include the high volumes of water which are required, the amount of transport, noise and disturbance to neighbours, and the inevitable effect this will have on areas of natural beauty which rely on tourism for income and employment. And property values near fracking sites have never been known to do anything but sink – often to the point where they cannot even be given away as homes, let alone sold.
    There is the wider question of the inhabitants of the planet putting their efforts into reducing the need for energy rather than simply accepting that demand will rise. Many of these topics are aired below. But that is another campaign and probably one with a much longer timescale.

    2. It is cheap gas.
    It is only cheap because the US gas companies who invented, and thus costed, the process do not have to clear up after themselves. Shale gas production produces vast quantities of contaminated water. Some of it will stay underground, no one knows where it will go, but it will surface somewhere, sometime. The contaminated water that they do pump out has to go somewhere. The real cost of the gas on our health may only become apparent in a decade of two – probably to our grandchildren.

    Even if the cost of the gas which is extracted is lower, it will not be cheaper for consumers. The energy companies are well known for sticking together to keep prices high. Under normal circumstances this would be a cartel but is not called a cartel because cartels are illegal. So it must be a coincidence, but as long as they are allowed to continue, there will be no downward pressure on prices. They will sell their ‘cheap’ gas at the same price as all the other gas and simply pocket the profit.

    3. It is our natural resource and we need security of supply as these pesky foreigners (Russians, Arabs, Algerians – you choose) cannot be trusted and will cut off our gas supply at the drop of a hat.
    Security of supply is only a valid argument if there is a serious threat to supply (as there was in the second world war) and if there is enough gas to recoup the initial investment to extract the gas safely and cleanly. We also have to consider the desirability of untold quantities of cheap gas and its effect on the climate.

    The amount of shale gas the UK has depends on who you ask. There appear to be two types of company involved in the sharp end of shale gas exploitation. Obviously there are gas companies who wear hard hats and do the drilling. And then there are the Armani-suited carpet-baggers looking to make a killing by obtaining permits to prospect for gas and selling them on to gas companies in future. It is in their interests to talk up the quantities of gas in any given area. These estimates are often in the billions and trillions of cubic metres. Such large quantities will increase the value of the permits. So it is in the interests of the carpet baggers to talk it up. The gas companies want shale gas production to go ahead so they are saying there is a lot of gas as well. But they also say they have no idea how much they can actually get out. So in effect they do not know the usable size of the UK reserves.

    The Fifth Report from the [UK] Energy and Climate Change Committee* says:
    “…shale gas resources in the UK could be considerable. However, while they could be sufficient to help the UK increase its security of supply, it is unlikely shale gas will be a ‘game changer’ in the UK to the same extent as it has been in the US.”
    Not really much use as regards security of supply then.
    The report goes on to say:
    The British Geological Survey’s estimate that UK shale gas reserve potential could be as large as 150 billion cubic metres was the most up to date at that time. For comparison purposes, in 2009, UK total demand for natural gas was approximately 100 billion cubic metres.

    Claims about how long the gas will last, and therefore how long our security of supply will last are pure speculation. In the first sentence relating the British Geological Survey’s view on the quantity available includes ‘estimate’, ‘potential’ and ‘could be‘ and that is just a single sentence. Close inspection reveals that all projections of gas production are littered with such conditional phrases: ‘could be x billion cubic meters’, ‘may last for decades’, ‘if we can extract it’ and the like. In short, no one can tell how much there is or long the gas will last .

    The BGS appears to be saying that there is enough to supply us for eighteen months at the 2009 rate of consumption. But even if it turns out that there is enough to keep up supplied with gas for decades or centuries, we still have to consider climate change. Giving an alcoholic a lifetime’s supply of booze may solve the problem of supply but fails to address the more serious, underlying problem.
    The only people who stand to gain from this are the oil companies and money men who do not care about the mess they leave behind, and the politicians who cannot think more than five or ten years into the future.

    There is precious little in it for the rest of us.

    4. It will provide jobs
    One of the claims of the industry is that after a few weeks spent setting up a ‘frack pad’ (a collection of bore holes radiating from a central point) which involve drilling equipment and hundreds of trucks driving back and forth, there will just be a few bits of equipment sitting quietly in a field pumping gas into the distribution network. They paint a picture of a mostly automatic and untended process. The majority of jobs will be in the setting up and will be low skill, low pay and short term. The well paid, skilled jobs will go to oil and gas industry specialists brought in from the US and elsewhere. The only thing the local workforce are likely to get is poisoned from inadequate protection from the cocktail of noxious substances which will be used in the process and left lying around.

    5. The local authorities will benefit from extra taxes
    True, but the income it is unlikely to be anything like the costs for additional repairs to roads, dealing with the environmental damage, and a hundred other ‘unintended consequences’ of drilling and the establishment of hundreds of ‘frac pads’.
    Tourist areas are also likely to lose many times the amount they gain in taxes as the tourist trade drops off. People come to UK to see our green and pleasant land, to experience locally produced meats, cheeses, fruits, beers and other produce of the countryside. They do not want to come here and have to drink bottled water because the sources are contaminated or eat food from other regions because the cows, sheep, pigs, ducks and chickens, vegetables and fruit are all suspect. What is clear is that gas companies may pay some upfront taxes and there may be some ‘planning gain’ (bribes paid to local authorities to allow otherwise unnecessary developments) but they will almost certainly use their immense resources and offshore status to reduce their tax bill to zero. The long term cost for the rest of us is incalculable and likely to be very high.

    6. There is no need to transport water to the site as the UK has lots of sea, big rivers and bountiful natural springs etc.
    Fracking uses millions of gallons of water for each and every well. Much of England is already suffering from serious water shortages in the summer, and it is starting to become a year-round problem. Water conservation is a priority for central government. Local authorities also have water saving high on their stated list of priorities. To contaminate untold millions of gallons of wholesome water under these circumstances is simply unjustifiable. And then to return it to the aquifers is doubly irresponsible. As for using sea water, salt water is simply no good for fracking.

    7. We will dispose of our waste water with no threat or cost to the public
    Getting rid of millions of gallons of contaminated waste water is not a simple matter. One thing is clear from the US experience, domestic water treatment works simply cannot handle it. They do not have the capacity or the technology to deal with industrial waste. There is no reason to believe that UK water treatment facilities are any better equipped.
    This just leaves burying it elsewhere. Cuadrilla (who have started fracking on the Fylde coast in Lancashire) has suggested that they will pour it down holes on private land. The question then is where will it go? It certainly will not respect the boundaries drawn on a map at the Land Registry office. We will see it again, somewhere, sometime.

    8.We need an alternative to nuclear, look at what has just happened in Japan.
    One of the things that has made nuclear so dangerous is that no one really thought about what they were going to do with the waste. Does that ring a bell? What both these technologies have in common is that they have not been thought through with any clarity. We now know the downside of nuclear. From de-commissioning old reactors and disposal of used fuels, through the physical threat of earthquakes and terrorists stealing radioactive materials or buying it from unstable governments. Then there are the ‘human factors’ such as the power that derives from having ‘the bomb’ and the more common human characteristics of laziness and greed which lead to cutting safety corners to save money, a tendency the oil and gas industry have demonstrated time and again. We know the immediate downside of fracking but have not had enough experience to know the longer term effects – but we can be sure they will not be good. And, as ever it will be the private sector that takes the profit. The public sector will cover the cost of failure and of cleaning up the mess later as we are doing with nuclear. The gas fracking industry is little more than an exercise in greed. If the gas companies in the US had to comply with the same standards as the rest of industry when it comes to disposing of its toxic waste the price of the gas would be extortionate, and would not make a healthy profit for the shareholders. This is why George W Bush’s vice president, !!!!!! Cheney (one time CEO and Chairman of Halliburton who invented gas fracking) explicitly exempted the natural gas industry from the Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water act and a whole bunch of other US federal laws designed to protect the environment.

    This is why it is profitable in the US. The only way they can make it profitable here is by lying and cheating or by cutting corners. The easiest corners to cut are those whose effects will not show up for decades. To argue that we should go for gas because nuclear has proved to be unsafe is like saying ‘I got bitten by a shark, think I’ll get a tiger instead’ – stupid and short sighted.

    9. The technology is proven and safe and they have been doing it in the US for years.
    It is true that there has been a very limited amount of vertical hydraulic fracturing for many years. Against this background, horizontal fracking, which is the only system that will make a profit, is a recent development. The difference is similar to a cricket groundsman who walks the hallowed pitch with a fork aerating the grass. The vertical technique involves sticking the fork straight onto the ground and pulling it out again letting in the air and laving miniscule holes in the turf. The horizontal method is like sticking the fork in as far as it will go and then pulling back on the handle – and then doing it again, and again over the entire pitch.

    The longer term effects of gas fracking technology are unknown. Worse even, all the evidence coming from the US points towards it being devastating to man, beast, air, water and the land itself. For the UK to embrace gas fracking as it is carried out at the moment is simply reckless.

    The gas companies claim that there is no ‘evidence’ that their processes have caused any contamination, environmental damage or illness to local populations. They then go on to say that there are no records of successful claims in the courts.

    Not being found guilty in court is not the same as being innocent. The gas companies, supported by the Bush-Cheyney regime, claim commercial confidentiality in the ingredients used to make the cocktail of toxic chemicals used in fracking fluid and do not have to disclose them. This makes it almost impossible to test for the substances. If toxic and harmful chemicals are found, it is difficult to prove that they came from the fracking fluid, despite this being the obvious conclusion. This lack of success in the courts is not the same as giving the industry a clean bill of health.

    10. The gas companies will pay me good money for the right to drill on my land.
    They are paying you peanuts compared with what they will earn. They can pump your land full of toxic chemicals and when they are done they go away leaving you with a toxic environment, possibly including radioactive Radon gas which has leeched into the water and will have been liberally spread around your land.

    Your source may be contaminated. Flammable gases are known to leak into water sources, and if you or your community get their water from a bore hole you may be able to set fire to your tap water. If you have an organic farm or smallholding your produce is unlikely to be accepted as organic and any farm produce may simply not be saleable once the public know you have fracking on or near the premises.

    There is evidence of livestock suffering ill health and of course you will have to pay vets bills, or replace you animals or give up having animals all together. Thing is, you won’t know until it is too late. And the chances of selling your property are likely to be greatly reduced, but you won’t want to because no one will pay you what it was worth before you allowed the frackers in.

    Oh yes, and it may maim or kill your family. Apart from that it’s worth every penny.

    11. Gas is a low ‘green house gas’ fuel
    The greenhouse effect is a layer of ‘green house gases’ (GHGs) in the upper atmosphere, the most significant of which are produced by our use of fossil fuels. This layer prevents heat escaping from the surface of the planet and thus contributes to global warming.
    It is true that gas produces less CO2 than coal and oil equivalents. But fracking is not like conventional natural gas.

    A Cornell University report** has assessed the Greenhouse Gas footprint of Shale Gas over a 20- and 100-year lifetime. Compared with conventional gas and coal, unconventional (shale) gas releases more methane into the atmosphere – it is estimated that 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane escapes in venting and leaks. “Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over time periods of a couple of decades following emission.” Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is 1.2- to 2.1-fold greater on the 20-year timeframe. In short Shale gas is simply not a ‘green’ fuel.
    12. It is a bridging fuel to low carbon technology.

    The gas industry presents shale gas as a ‘bridging fuel’ to low carbon technology. Shale gas is so profitable and fits in with existing infrastructure so closely that it relieves the pressure to find new systems or sources of energy. It is more likely to slow research into low-carbon alternatives such as wind and wave power, solar energy, geo-thermal heatpumps etc.)

    13. Unlucky for some… We’ve run out of fuel
    Even with our most fervent hats on we are struggling to think of more arguments in favour of shale gas drilling in the UK .
    If you have had to address a point in support of shale gas which is not listed above let us know and we will see what arguments we can have to shoot it down.
    Email us at: [email protected]
    Visit the web site: https://www.schistehappens.com

    *http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111103/halltext/111103h0001.htm#11110367000003
    ** Cornell University Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations Obtained by High-Volume, Slick-Water Hydraulic Fracturing

    http://frackoffscotland.org.uk/?p=135
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