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Desperate times

Are Greenpeace getting a bit desperate over shale gas? In an article at their Energy Desk site, ex-BBC man Damian Khaya looks at differences between shale gas in the UK and the US.

1) They have more gas than we do.

The US has a bounty of shale gas. In 2011 US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimated that they have a total recoverable reserve of 862trn cubic feet. By contrast the estimate for the UK was 20trn cubic feet.

That works out as 2.7trn cubic feet of shale per million Americans, versus about 0.3 per million Brits. Some suggest the UK shale reserve is around double the EIA estimate, but the point remains.

In the USA the world and his wife have all test drilled their backyards to see if they are sitting on a goldmine. But in the UK, the government owns the shale gas and so nothing has happened, including test drilling to see what is there. Reserves figures for the UK are therefore very low. But even the 20TCf figure is wildly understated, predating Cuadrilla's announcement of the size of their find under Lancashire. This amounts to another 200Tcf of resource of which anything between ten and 40% might be extractable at today's prices.

And this is just Lancashire. You hear figures of 60% of the UK being potentially exploitable. Lancashire is not much more than 1% of that. I think it's fair to say that our ex-BBC Greenpeace man has forgotten to include some important details.

Kahya goes on to say this:

A recent estimate by Poyry found that, taking into account likely UK and global production, UK gas prices would be 2-4% lower than they otherwise would have been without shale.

Tsk, tsk. If you actually go and look at the Poyry report you will find that it is referring only to the effect of the Cuadrilla find on UK gas prices. So that last sentence should read "would otherwise have been without Lancastrian shale".

Hmm. More important details missed...

Anyway, it's an amusing little diversion of an article, not least because there are no fewer than five differences between the UK and US situations. Which is odd for an article entitled "Fracking go-ahead: four differences between the US and UK".

Incidentally, Nick Grealy's post on Poyry makes interesting reading.

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Reader Comments (42)

he has a similar post on Liberal is just cherry-picking rubbish - the sort of stuff you expect from Bitbucket

Dec 12, 2012 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Good comment at Grealy's site:

roger 29 Hours Ago (0) Vote [
UK shale could possibly produce more and cheaper than USA

For instance instead of drilling down and then diverging into 20 horizontal holes 5000ft long like in the USA which you have to do as the sales are only 300-600ft thick.

These horizontal wells are more costly and take longer than vertical wells. Most importantly you need to drill, case, cement, frack, seal and repeat for 20 more horizontal holes before you can start producing.

In the UK we could possibly drill down, and then keep going 6,000 ft into the shale.
Frack that shale and start producing from it.

Move the drill 10 foot away and drill a near vertical well 10 degrees off vertical, by the time the hole gets 10,000 ft down it is over 1,500ft away from the original hole. Drill 6,000ft into the shale and frack and produce.

Repeat 20x so you have 20 near vertical wells, separated 1,500 ft from each other underground but only a few feet over ground.

Much quicker as you can start producing from the first frack no need to wait for 20 horizontal holes.

Cheaper as no horizontal drilling.

Ability to have multiple rigs at one location working simultaneously.

Lower risk as a fault in one well only impacts that one well

Of course you could also use the American method. horizontal wells then move the drill a few feet away and drill down into a lower part of the shale and repeate until you cover the whole 6,000 ft

Dec 12, 2012 at 10:50 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Just Waite until the SNP realise that the largest reserve of UK shale gas it in the Western Border region.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

I will bet your left testicle that if fracking gets the go ahead and becomes successful that the war waged by the greens will shift from trying to stop fracking to trying to stop the price of gas from coming down.

They will do everything in their power to ensure as many caveats as possible are tacked on to fracking to ensure the price stays high to force people not to use more gas (to keep their homes warm in our increasingly cold winters).


Dec 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

The other benefit of UK shale versus US shale, is that our Grid & Consumers are much closer to the fields. So distribution is easier & more efficient, with lower transmission losses.

The UK is smaller than Wyoming.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

@ Anoneumouse Dec 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Just wait until the SNP realise that the largest reserve of Scottish shale gas it in the Western Border region.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The only way we can maintain our industrial economy and avoid the early deaths from cold of many millions of our population in the cold decades to come is to bypass the windmill dominated electrical grid and use methane to power 10 million domestic fuel cells. In this way Agenda 21 can be bypassed.

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

If the government really does give the go ahead tomorrow then the greens can exhale as much CO2 as they like because the facts will come out really fast ^.^

Dec 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM | Registered CommenterDung

What is the effect of fracking an entire layer of rock below a county?

I have an interesting mental picture of Blackpool skiding into the sea.

Dec 13, 2012 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man

Fear not sir, although there may be some who wish Blackpool would slide beneath the waves, fracking will not do it for them ^.^
The cracks that fracking produces are tiny and even if they frack many levels I doubt you will notice.
The tiny cracks will be a mile below the surface.

Dec 13, 2012 at 12:52 AM | Registered CommenterDung

A mile+ below? Bugger all.

You might as well suggest that North Sea oil drilling would drain the ocean. Which if Greenpeace had been around in force in the 1960's might have done.

Dec 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Dec 12, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Joe Public

The SNP don't do fossil fuels. They're all wind.

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Sorry about the crap grammar in my post above ^

It's late. :-)

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Joe Public, the UK is smaller than MICHIGAN, let along Wyoming. Michigan is more nearly the right shape, for that matter -- more or less surrounded by water, irregular coastlines, running north to south -- instead of a big square chunk of land locked territory surveyed out of the high prairie.

Hey, what are the chances of sinking any old nuclear waste we have lying around into the voids left a mile or so deep after the gas is out of the fracked wells? A twofer?

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterpouncer

I live in Southern(ish) Sweden and have just walked home through 18 inches of global warming precipitate. The outside temperature is currently -14 and I am burning nearly 1cuMetre of wood per week to keep the house at a just about habitable 17C. I just wonder when the catastophic warming is going to kick in, because I can't wait much longer.
This morning on Sveriges radio P1 (Swedish equivalent of BBC radio 4 (in every way)) the presenter was bemoaning how sad it was that COP 496 in Doha had failed to produce a plan to stop the "constantly rising" temperature. Er....where would that be then?
Wish we had shale gas here........

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Pounced I hate to be pedantic, but the land area of Michigan is only about 57,000 square miles whereas the Uk is about 90,000 square miles: about Colorado. Michigan's area is inflated by its lake area, and if you include traditional British waters... Well

Dec 13, 2012 at 2:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chorley

whoops.... I meant to place my comment about Naomi Klein & Bill McKibben on 'Unthreaded' -- where I have moved it now.....

Dec 13, 2012 at 3:10 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil


article for Th. Dec. 13, 2012: front page of Daily Telegraph

DT Front Page -- Ministers to back gas fracking plan

web version

Green light for shale gas could infuriate rural communities

Ministers are expected to approve gas “fracking” after the Prime Minister said the controversial technique could help bring down household energy bills.

Edward Davey, the Energy Secretary, is to give a statement to MPs about shale gas drilling today – more than a year after it was temporarily banned when it was believed to have caused tremors in Blackpool.

The senior Liberal Democrat is in charge of deciding whether the ban should be lifted, allowing exploration across swathes of the south, north-west and north-east of England.

Britain has trillions of cubic feet of shale gas covering up to 60 per cent of the countryside but environmental groups are concerned the landscape could be scarred and polluted.

If drilling is approved, Mr Davey is likely to insist on tough regulations.

He is more sceptical about the potential for shale gas to bring down energy prices than David Cameron and the Chancellor......

Dec 13, 2012 at 3:42 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

"UK gas prices would be 2-4% lower than they otherwise would have been without shale"

Even if true, this is meant to somehow be an argument against fracking?

Fortunes are made on the ability to produce something 2% cheaper than the next bloke.

Dec 13, 2012 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

It would be good if the Committee on Climate Change could tell us how renewables (mainly intermittent wind) and baseload nuclear will keep household bills down. Is everybody supposed to rip out their gas-fired central heating systems and rely on a dwindling supply of unreliable electricity because of "potential high costs of gas in the future"?

When North Sea Gas came in and replaced 'dirty' town gas it was described as 'clean gas'. The 'clean gas' has now been described as 'dirty gas' by Friends of the Earth. The water melons are really getting desperate with their newspeak propaganda. The BBC laps it up with trougher Deben.

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:11 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

off topic, slightly

what is Black doing these days? I've asked him directly, but no answer. Is he another Greenpeace man now?

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMangoChutney

If the government owns the shale gas and can extract revenue from it, that shale gas is coming out, since the government is bankrupt.

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Fisher

The BBC is in full frack-hate mode this morning. Main headline on the Breafast News channel was all about 'relying on gas will cost millions'..

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

7:15am this morning the Today programme the BBC produced a pro fraking academic. Didn't catch the name but he was very supportive and "trusts that Radio 4 listeners will be the same".

Think I am suffering from after-shock, hence scant details, lots in there and worth a listen when available. Good points made about the reduction in gas prices in the USA, though er are not to expect the same in the UK.

First BBC pro fraking I have come across.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand: I heard that too, really sensible and cheerful, he is a professor from Imperial, but I didn't catch his name either. He countered all the ridiculous arguments put forward earlier by Harrabin- controversial processs stopped because it caused earthquakes, won't reduce costs, risk of polluted water etc.

Really surprising to hear the BBC allowing the other side for once -the greens won't be pleased, I'm glad to say.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Shale is a blessing. Mainly because it will finally allow the majority of the ordinary public (who don't follow the CAGW lies) to see the greens in their true hypocritical and hysterical colours.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record


Mere millions for shale as opposed to tens or hundreds of billions for windmills and mirrors?!?!?


Dec 13, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman


"windmills and mirrors?!?!?"

Does that work the same way as putting a mirror behind a candle? :-)

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:42 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"Sorry about the crap grammar in my post above ^

It's late. :-)"

Don't worry. It happens to the best of us. ;-)

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

So, at least a year pointlessly wasted - do the CONs want to avoid any possibility of reelection?

Dec 13, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Think of all the dirty, evil polluting carbon released by candles Geegee! :)



Dec 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

What Rob Fisher said. Its all about the money. If (and one has to say, even as a fracking supporter, its an if) it all works and this stuff is there in the amounts predicted and can be extracted, then the tax revenue will dictate the State will not only allow, but also downright demand, that it be extracted out of the ground. I predict a gas revenue windfall inside 10 years. Which ironically (given Mrs T benefited from oil revenue in the 80s) could benefit a Labour govt from 2015 to 2020. When the choice for a politician is tax rises or spending cuts now, vs eco-flim flam about disaster at some point in the future, then put your money on the drills going in.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim

Bottom line , many of the greens actual want a energy shortage and are happy to pay the price for it in bodies if needed . For they hope that such shortages would enable them to force onto the people such green wet dreams has the end of personal owned engine powered transport , that otherwise no one would touch with worlds longest barge pole. Renewable they know cannot meet demands so there happy to plug that but fracking is threat to their 'rapture ' so must be killed off .

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

@Mango - He's sailing the seas saving them from CAGW.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Bottom line , many of the greens actual want a energy shortage and are happy to pay the price for it in bodies if needed
Not quite, KnR.
Because we are basically nice people, you and me and most others on here, we assume that the millions dying through not being able to heat their homes properly are some form of "collateral damage" in the drive to propitiate Gaia and prevent Her from condemning the human race to a fiery extinction.
In fact they are part of that propitiation, a human sacrifice which is essential to restore the balance because humanity has raped the earth by overbreeding and unless we kill off at least one-third of the current population we are indeed all doomed.

And there are people around who call Christians nutters!

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Betting with other people's property is no wager .... you have to put your own valuables on the line... :)

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

The most important consideration for Lancashire shale is this: How much has Yorkshire got?

Dec 13, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

very drole.

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


Rainbow Warrior? ;)

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

It is interesting that you inform us that the GP reporter is a former Beeboid because I think that does explain a lot. I think it is quite a good write up from anywhere and especially from Greenpeace.

I do think we should expect this from now on. More realism. There will be a major pivot point where we all look back and look at who said what about around 2012.*

One interesting thing I actually learned from the GP article was some more about the Poland experience which prompted me to look further. I think there will be a lot more rally crying from either side about how positive or negative Euro shale is but information will always be king and I think this Bloomberg article is pretty good for providing some I think

As a potted summary:

Exxon missed the boat on shale. Of course they are doing fine in classic mainstream fossil, but it turns out smaller start-ups have beat them to the US shale gas boom. So Exxon dip their toe in speculating in Poland and quickly pull out when their first few tries aren't so good. The idea of the great Exxon pulling out of anywhere is quite a spinful piece of news. But is does seem that the shale in Poland is different to the US and Poland may actually now need to decide to commit to investigating it further and building a new existing knowledge base that will make easy.

I suspect that unless it proves pretty easy to get gas in Lancashire then we may indeed have to wait a few years before we develop the resources that will remain in place.

I suspect readers of this site will agree that most of the talk of innovation in green technology is basically a palliative lie for the dumbass politicians benefit and not a reality. So while high density energy is always a better return, the ease of developing it should always be questioned.

If some country who has “difficult” shale actually develops the technology to exploit then they will be the real innovators.

I suspect unless shale is proven as easy flowing in this country then the motivation for further testing will be low and it won’t be green activist that stop it here.

But we know the resources are there now. It may need somewhere like Poland to find a best way to explore and then we will have a renaissance of Polish plumbers coming back in 20 years? ;)

*Yes, I am arrogantly predicting the future - but only about human nature, nothing scientific ;)

Dec 14, 2012 at 12:07 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

A key issue that not many understand, is that the driver in the US has changed over the last few years,and is not just the dry gas (CH4), but the associated liquid hydrocarbons, that come with the gas. The targeted shales in the US produce associated liquids, worth $100 a bbl, with the gas, and as the gas cannot be flared, the gas is almost "given away". North Dakota now produces 500,000 bbl a day of oil, associated from shale gas. Due to the lack of pipelines, transport is mainly rail cars. The key issue for UK shale gas will be the quantity of associated liquid hydrocarbons, without which the economics will be marginal. For those interested, a presentation here ... Slides 10 onwards ...

Dec 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterNot in the pub yet

Dec 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Not in the pub yet

That is interesting. Shame I can't raise the presentation.

Dec 14, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMiket

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