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The beast of Blackpool

The big news of the weekend is the announcement that the Bowland Shale is even bigger than we thought.

The shale gas deposit around Blackpool is 50 per cent bigger than previously estimated, The Times has learnt. The news will put more pressure on ministers who are due to lift the ban on extraction as early as next week, to support what could prove to be a gas bonanza for Britain.

The news has, perhaps inevitably, prompted conflicting commentaries in the press. Nigel Lawson's article in the Mail is long and thorough, spelling out the both the technicalities and the geopolitical implications: 

For decades, the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, has had to shape, and sometimes arguably to misshape, its foreign policy in the light of its dependence on Middle East oil and gas. No longer: that era is now over.

For decades, too, Europe has been fearful of the threat that Russia might cut off the gas supplies on which it has relied so heavily.

No longer: that era will very soon be over, too. Thanks to the shale gas revolution, the newfound energy independence of the West is a beneficent game-changer in terms of world politics as much as it is in the field of energy economics.

Andrew Rawnsley puts the arguments against. He reels off the usual environmentalist woo about earthquakes and fracking fluid, but also the real question over shale:

Then there is the huge hole at the heart of the frack-heads' dream. No one even knows yet how much shale gas can be profitably extracted. Estimates of the exploitable reserves vary wildly. In fact, no one can be sure whether it will be viable to get any of it at all out of the ground. Firms are only going to invest in shale gas if they will make some money out of it. That means they will want to be certain that the cost of extraction doesn't make shale gas uncompetitive against alternative forms of gas and other energy sources. Colin Smith, head of energy research at VTB Capital, tells me that there have been some 50 experimental wells across Europe to date. None – not a single one – appears to have flowed at a rate that would make them commercially viable. So while the frack-heads fantasise about a bonanza, the reality is that not so much as one cubic metre of shale gas has been profitably extracted anywhere in Europe.

The economics is of course what really counts here. Rawnsley bases his concern on shales in Europe being deeper and thinner than those in the USA. I think it's right that the Bowland shale is deeper, but the new announcement also suggests that it's actually a wider deposit than anything in the States. Nick Grealy tweeted yesterday that no shales of this thickness have ever proven to be unproductive. So we have plenty of cause for optimism.

And we should also note that the economics are not a reason for holding back those companies, like Cuadrilla, who want to try their luck. They'll stop soon enough if the geology and therefore the economics are against them.

Finally, we should note a sneaky bit of misleading by Rawnsley. He says:

So they were cheered when the chancellor paved the way for drilling by trailing tax breaks to incentivise the exploration of shale gas and announced a new regulatory outfit, the Office for Unconventional (Shale) Gas, dubbed Ofshag.

The tax breaks, are of course, the reduction in the supertax paid by oil companies (but not renewables firms). Rawnsley misleads his readers by not explaining this.

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Reader Comments (56)

What a good job Rawnsley wasn't around a few hundred thousand years ago.
"Should we set fire to that piece of wood; it may warm and light our cave?. The people in the next cave have a fire and they like it."
"Of course not. We don't know if it'll work in our cave. And our piece of wood might be a bit smaller. And there may be a better way of getting warmth. And we don't know exactly how much wood there is in our area. And I heard about someone who tried it last week and it went out. Let's just sit here and shiver in the dark like we always do."

Dec 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I think you've got it in a nutshell there!
I wonder how long it took Rawnsley to think up "OffShag". I can see him now, telling everyone about it and giggling at his own cleverness. Pathetic!

Dec 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Whether is deposit is deep and thin is neither here nor there. Drilling should be allowed with the great benefit being IF there is no gas then it's the drilling companies investors who lose out! On the other hand if there is gas there then we ALL win...except for the rabid green loons

Dec 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Alex, that's exactly what I was thinking as I read Rawnsley's Rubbish.

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Rawnsley really gives the game away, as regards the true motivation behind the "Green" movement. He is talking about a resource that could bring energy security and prosperity to the UK, along with cheaper fuel for everyone to heat their homes and reduced CO2 emissions (if you think that is important) yet his attitude is 100% anti.
Greens just want modern industrial society dismantled and I really don't understand why. Are they stupid enough to believe that we will live happily ever after as subsistence farmers? That millions of people won't starve or freeze to death? It is frightening that the majority of the media, political and scientific establishment is now formed from a bunch of sixth formers that never grew up.
By the way, I can just see the spittle as he types "frack heads". Is this the level of broadsheet journalism now?

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

You sense the increasing desperation to even stop anyone trying to extract.

Just in case it works.

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

I think "USHAGOFF" would be a better acronym...and a modest piece of advice for those who would proselytize excessively on behalf of Mother Earth.

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Grogan

On the pro-shale side I do think you do see some overstating the benefits before all the evidence is in. But I would say also on the pro side there are many well-reasoned arguments about the practicalities and how to handle any downsides, with much data to back them up and tangible precedents abounding.

On the anti side there does seem to exist a strong strand of "Shale Derangement Syndrome".

SDS seems to always merely appeal to emotive reasoning showing no concept of possibilities, only anti-human rhetoric filling in for logic. The wilful blindness to possibilities is bemusing to me.

Rawnsley's article is a clear example of SDS.

The fact that Rawnsley is a political editor easily helped me see his early hand wringing over the technical aspects - earthquakes and pollution - as tendentious waffle. That only signals his ideological pre-disposition, knowing this I carried on to wonder what his supposed political observations in his skill set would be:

Two quotes stand out:

Money spent on gas diverts investment from renewables, which is especially bonkers when the green energy sector is one of the few parts of the British economy that is currently displaying good growth.

I have yet to have explained to me how the "growth" in renewables is actually originating from independent new money based on innovation, whereas it has all the actual hallmarks of subsidies from government for soviet old style technologies in reality. Rawnsley certainly doesn't indicate he knows himself. Rawnsley pushing the myth of green growth makes him seem delusional or just lazy.

But if, which seems much more likely at the moment, the claims made for it prove to be false, then Britain is going to be even more exposed to future price shocks and blackmail by foreign suppliers.

Rawnsley claims it is "likely" the yield will be poor when there is nothing to back that up. This is bad enough but then he seems to think that finding out the yield is poor would somehow lock us into gas from abroad without offering any explanation how this could happen. As if we are naughty for even thinking about gas.

I never really paid attention to Rawnsley, I only registered him as a smug smile in a suit talking about Westminster politics in a detailed way that he must know have no consequences outside the small UK politics fan boy set. He could have been an acute observer for all I knew it was hard to tell. Now seeing him touching on a subject I have some lay knowledge of I can safely see him as a lightweight. He is either an activist or a simple minded follower of bien pensant thinking. I think the latter. ;)

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

OFSHAG, eh? How very clever. So witty, I was lucky to be wearing my Tenna Pants. But won't Rawnsley fall foul of the OFfice For Useless Climate Knowledge.

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Buffy Minton
As I've said before, I spent a chunk of my life trying to fend off a bunch of local greenies who had ambitious plans for the local community. These almost always included the restoration of something that had long since ceased to function or exist because technology (or just simply "the world in general") had moved on.
"Heritage" was always very big in their ideas. Nothing they ever did related to looking forward; everything was harking back to this mythical time when "Adam toiled and Eve span" and everything was "natural". And it wasn't a question of creating a museum or 'heritage centre'. No, this could be the real way forward for an honest sustainable lifestyle.
All very seductive until you try to put it into practice but the eco-warriors are very big on emotion and very short on the practicalities of real life.
The ones who are actually driving the current scam, on the other hand, are as hard-headed as they come and the eco-warriors are just simply Lenin's "useful idiots" in a new guise. They aren't interested in whether or not we starve and/or freeze to death. In fact, they would rather we did; it will "help reduce the surplus population", as Scrooge said. They certainly have no interest in our living happily ever after, though they certainly will —on the backs of our poverty.
And the "useful idiots"?
How about the story of the Wee Free who found himself in hell, callin' out tae the Lord in his agony, 'O Lord, A niver kent it wud be as bad as this.' And the Lord, out of His love and tender mercy vouchsafed the answer, 'Weel, ye ken noo.'
Translations available, 5p a time!

Dec 9, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

new estimate is 300 trillion cubic feet of gas in bowland shale, uk uses 3 trillion per year - so about 100 years worth

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob L

It's going to be OK Mr Rawnsley, understand your concern, however you can allay your fears, nobody is going to start drilling until after the 21st!

"Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears"

"Fears that the end of the world is nigh have spread across the world with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth."

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"The economics is of course what really counts here."

To rational people.

This month's National Geographic Magazine has a bit of agitprop on shale gas, warning its dear readers that atmospheric methane is going up, it's Man's fault, and it's a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

I would have absolutely no objection if the properties of Rawnsley - and all other members of his clique - were to be fitted with smart meters that only delivered the percentage of that day's power requirements that renewables were contributing to the grid.

As I understand it, that's typically low single figures, and on some days effectively zero.

Now I just have to torture a suitable acronym out of "Bitten on the Backside by the Real World" and we're ready to go.

Over to you, Rawnsley Minor.

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Rawnsley's regulator might more usefully be known as Statutory Metering of Unconventional Gas, SMUG to us plebs.

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

.... the reality is that not so much as one cubic metre of shale gas has been profitably extracted anywhere in Europe.

Well, that puts it on a par with wind power, for a start....

Alternatively, why does shale gas have to make a profit when 'renewable' energy doesn't?

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:43 PM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

The economics is of course what really counts here.....

Yes it is. Lost in all the hype is the fact that outside of a few tiny core areas the American shale experience is a total failure as no projects are self financing and the return on the energy invested is negative. What we need is freedom from regulators and central bankers. Let anyone who thinks he can make a buck try to find solutions to our energy problems but ensure that their actions do not cause direct harm to the person or property of others. Without the easy credit that comes from central bank monetization of government debt we would have fewer warfare and welfare programs and the charlatans in the shale business will have a much harder time papering over their funding gaps. That should allow serious people to move on to try to solve serious problems and push the parasites in the political class, and their dependents, out of the way.

Dec 9, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterVangel


I have to admit being frustrated and it is not all the fault of my wife ^.^
I have been shouting about shale on BH for as long as Nick Grealy and it is almost 9 months since I posted pretty much all the information on the Cuadrilla shale license plus where it could be seen on the net. However today you write:

I think it's right that the Bowland shale is deeper, but the new announcement also suggests that it's actually a wider deposit than anything in the States.

A J Lucas owns 42% of Cuadrilla and whereas Cuadrilla is not a Ltd company and does not have to give information about itself, A J Lucas is a Ltd Co and has given detailed info on Cuadrilla, even more detail than has so far been released by government or anyone else. You can see it here:

You can see that the Bowland shale play absolutely dwarfs the thickest and most productive US play, the Barnett shale. Talking about economics you will see that one well drilled by Cuadrilla will produce 6 times more gas than a well drilled in the Barnett field. This information has been freely available on the A J Lucas site for 9 months, staring the government in the face and also available to BH readers. I fail to see why there is still doubt :(

I found some interesting new maps yesterday and it now seems that 75% of what is termed to be the Bowland shale basin is out under the Irish Sea.
Something that is not being talked about by either Cuadrilla or A J Lucas is oil, both companies are chasing gas. However a company called Aurora Petroleum has a license area immediately adjacent to and just South of the Cuadrilla License, they are sitting on the Bowland shale just like Cuadrilla. Aurora quote the same thickness of shale that Cuadrilla/A J Lucas have found but Aurora state that 750 feet of the 4000 foot thick Bowland Shale is Oil bearing and they have referred to it as the "Mother Lode".
It seems almost certain that Cuadrilla are sitting on a huge oil deposit as well as gas ^.^

Dec 9, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung


You are talking out of the wrong orifice.

Dec 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I wondered who it was exactly that Rawnsley chose to pronounce so authoritatively about the lack of prospects for the whole of Europen shale market so had a look at VTB capital.

About VTB Capital

VTB Capital (, the Investment Business of VTB Group, is one of the three strategic business arms of VTB Group, along with the corporate and retail businesses. Since its foundation in 2008, VTB Capital has taken part in more than 300 ECM and DCM deals, which were instrumental in attracting more than USD 125.5bn worth of investments to Russia and CIS.

My emphasis above.

The VTB Capital guy Rawnsley quotes, Colin Smith, apparently has been consistently pouring doubt on European shale since at least July last year:

I have doubts that shale gas could deliver significant extra volumes over the next 10 years

April this year:

Shale gas is not about to transform the European gas market

We remain of the view that contract pricing around the USD 400/kcm mark is sustainable and that Europe is likely to need more, not less, Russian gas in the future.

Colin Smith
VTB Capital analyst

You could see how Smith could be motivated to continue advising his Russian masters that Euro-shale will not detract from investment in "Russian gas in the future", but I can't see why Rawnsley so confidently uses a “strategic” Russian investment arm as a source to undermine the idea of European shale gas?

I mean, wouldn't it be part of their investment "strategy" to feed useful idiots in the European press anti-shale information? ;)

Dec 9, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Why does the precautionary principle go absent without leave when situations like these occur.

Surely Rawlinson must believe that we should pursue, or more accurately allow anyone who wants to risk thier capital, the opportunity despite the uncertainty.

As a precaution against the possibility that Rawlinson is wrong and we lose potentially large benefits.

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Skyplus and Notebooks at the ready.

Channel Four Documentary this coming Tuesday

"Is our Weather getting Worse" Tuesday 8.00 PM

Answer No just UK bigger population more people around to complain about it.

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspi

Shale Gas ,"The New North Sea Oil "

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Note how Rawnsley casually introduces the term 'Frack-Heads' because "we really need a shorthand phrase to describe them". The left are masters at commanding and controlling language. Expect any enthusiasm for shale-gas in the presence of easily-led or hard-of-thinking Guardianistas to be met with this pithy little insult in response.

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Of course there is the added irony that one of Rawnsley's planks of his argument against shale is the idea of foreign dependency:

We are already hazardously dependent on imports from Russia and the Middle East.

He helps his cause by taking advice from a "strategic" Russian investment arm. Of course the Russians are not threatened by the idea of the UK suddenly being made energy independent using the renewables that Rawnsley moronically thinks is the alternate "growth" market. The Russians and any other sentient adult person outside the bubble Rawnsley occupies realise that high density fossil fuels will be essential for a long while yet. So using a Russian strategic investment arm as a stick to help beat down potential independence via shale gas idea is richly ironic.

I've decided that Rawnsley is a moron.

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Tim Worstall does a good fisk of the Rawnsley economics

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Andrew Rawnsley states:-

Firms are only going to invest in shale gas if they will make some money out of it.....That means they will want to be certain that the cost of extraction doesn't make shale gas uncompetitive against alternative forms of gas and other energy sources.

Methinks that Mr Rawnsley has not been involved in business. Especially the area investment appraisal in the face of uncertainty. To do this well means evaluating the evidence based on the available data and learning from past experience. On the basis of available evidence the right quality of deposits could be extracted at lower cost than the current market price.
We need to remember that shale gas is huge potential threat to the profits of competing energy suppliers of the future - fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables all included.

Dec 9, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

"Were to be fitted with smart meters that only delivered the percentage of that day's power requirements that renewables were contributing to the grid"

Rawnsley, and his ilk, would like us ALL to go down that route...

Dec 9, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

Rawnsley: "Money spent on gas diverts investment from renewables, which is especially bonkers when the green energy sector is one of the few parts of the British economy that is currently displaying good growth."

Translation: the only good and pure economy is a government sponsored economy even if the reputed "growth" in it is entirely contrived.

Dec 9, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

David C
There is already a perfectly good word for Rawnsley, Carrington, Monbiot and all the other useful idiots (which is what TLITB has very neatly proved Rawnsley to be with his little bit of research —thank you, Leopard) who either can't or won't take an objective view of anything that upsets their bigoted world view — "f**kwit". Perhaps in honour of the ability to get something quite as wrong as he's managed to (and to allow even those of a nervous disposition to use the word) we could invent "frackwit" as an alternative.
Or perhaps we could in future describe allowing oneself to be duped into publishing screeds of misleading guff about subjects one knows precious little about as "doing a Rawnsley". Any more?
To misquote General Booth, "I don't see why the Left should have all the best words."

Buffy, I didn't answer your question earlier, " Is this the level of broadsheet journalism now?". Regrettably the answer is "yes".

PS It's just occurred to me that if those who are keen on extracting shale gas are to be called "frack-heads" then the obvious description for those who think wind is the answer must be "airheads".
Oh, wait a minute ....

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


'I've decided that Rawnsley is a moron.'

I try to avoid ad hom myself but having read Rawnsley's article I come to a similar conclusion. The article is so devoid of merit that, if we are to comment, we are left with no alternative but to ad hom the cretin that wrote it. One suspects that Dellers will not let this one pass him by.

PS I was once in a basement.

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Also from the Observer:

Brussels will move to regulate the shale gas industry, a senior member of the European parliament has warned, claiming the UK cannot be sure it knows what it is doing in embarking headlong on a "dash for gas".

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Arthur Dent

Thanks for the link to Tim Worstall’s site which judging by the comments is to be found in the heart of the Kingdom of AngloSaxonia. I think Rob summed it up very well with his comment at Dec 9, 2012 at 11:52 am.

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Dreadnought: I think that should have read

Brussels will move to regulate the wind industry, a senior member of the European parliament has warned, claiming the UK cannot be sure it knows what it is doing in embarking headlong on a "dash for wind".

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


Rawnsley: "Money spent on gas diverts investment from renewables, which is especially bonkers when the green energy sector is one of the few parts of the British economy that is currently displaying good growth."

Translation: the only good and pure economy is a government sponsored economy even if the reputed "growth" in it is entirely contrived.

Yes, offer a government grant of £2,000 to have new garden gates fitted, and not too many questions asked, and you'll have a booming garden gate industry.

It will solve the problem of many properties having no, or ineffective, garden gates.

What problem?

What's wrong with a booming garden gate industry? Britain can lead the world in garden gates.

Why do you want to undermine these grants and destroy a growth industry?

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

If silly names must be traded then let those who speak of 'frackheads' be called windyasses or windyarses. But only in response.

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

Phillip Bratby,

Not a hope in Hell. Brussels has such high hopes for green energy and all of them to do with extending its control, none to do with economics.

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM | Dolphinhead]
Yes I did give in to gratuitousness. But I feel I was mild now after reading Worstall's post :)

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


>> PS I was once in a basement. <<

Hopefully not chained to a radiator?

(Sorry, completely OT, I only ask in passing because I saw Terry Waite shopping in Waitrose a couple of weeks ago.)

Dec 9, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM


no not chained to a radiator but it does remind me of a game we used to play in the basement with our children when they were little called 'American Radiator'. It's a bit like American Football......

Dec 9, 2012 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Vangel - thanks for that. It explains why the gas price in the USA has halved in the last few years. Perhaps that is why it is not profitable!!

Get a grip.

Dec 9, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Another aspect of this that occurs to me, and that I haven't seen much discussed, is this: small-scale (20 MW or so) gas-fired turbine-generator-CHP plants are nowadays very efficient (Siemens in particular is a master in the field). This opens the road for a different mode of electricity generation / supply with a network of many small locally-fuelled and locally-supplying generating plants, with a number of advantages: elimination of a large part of the HV distribution network (costly to build and maintain); and a less brittle supply due to increased granularity - one small networked station on the blink can easily be switched out without too much bother.

Just thinking aloud.

Dec 9, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterThon Brocket

Phillip Bratby, cosmic

The 'senior member of the European parliament' is Jo Leinen, president of the European Movement International and, therefore, federalist-in-chief.

Dec 9, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Don't miss Matt Ridley's excellent piece on the shale gas revolution:

How "interesting" that actor Matt Damon's anti-fracking film turns out to be funded by the UAE.

Western Greens are in an unholy alliance with Russia, Iran, and other old guard producers of natural gas, who do not want to see Europe and North America moving ahead with our own natural gas output.

Dec 9, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

don't miss Matt Ridley's excellent piece on the shale gas revolution:

How curious that actor Matt Damon's anti-fracking film was financed by the UAE.

Nutty western Greens are in a foolish unholy alliance with Russia, Iran, and Gulf Arab dictators to suppress increased output of natural gas in Europe and N. America.

Dec 9, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Thanks to our host (h/t Rhoda) for this evisceration of climate hype parasites .... making the comparison between what COP18 represents and what the natural gas potential represents is crucial right now:

In Doha, a big green rent-seeking machine

"So faced with a certain unwillingness by some delegations to take the unhinged policy steps that many at the conference advocated, but mindful of the need to keep the bandwagon rolling, COP18 did what UN conferences usually do, agreeing to take drastic (but unspecified) steps in coming years. This seems to have fooled few people, but fooling people is not really the game. Not rocking the boat is. So long as taxpayers continue to fund activist and technocrat alike, so long as there is a COP19 next year, and so long as politicians continue to play along with the charade, everyone is happy. Except the taxpayer, that is...."

Dec 9, 2012 at 8:32 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

A commenter on Worstall's points out the rather stark fact that VTB Capital are 75% owned by the Russian government.

So lets get this straight - Rawnsley says:

Nor do I sleep easier at night when I think about Vladimir Putin's finger hovering over our national light switch.

However Rawnsley uses a quotes from a VTB guy as a rhetorical tool to push us away from thinking of shale independence.

Meanwhile this same VTB guy says to his Russian masters:

Europe is likely to need more, not less, Russian gas in the future.

Rawsley either knows of the VTB connections and is actively anti-European energy independence, lying about his anti-Putin feelings, or is a moron who is basically working as a useful idiot.


Dec 9, 2012 at 8:59 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Subterranean Cat,

one can assume "useful idiot" in the absence of further info, but it does seem difficult to believe that Rawnsley does not know more than he dares to discuss......

Dec 9, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

As I said above, a frackwit! Though I'm coming to the conclusion that my alternative description of his kind as "airheads" probably covers most bases.
Is this guy for real?

Dec 9, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Dec 9, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

it does seem difficult to believe that Rawnsley does not know more than he dares to discuss...

I tend to think not. It seems to me that the fact that VTB's background can be uncovered so easily - and yet their connections contradict Rawnsley's alleged motivation of anti-Putin dependence - make me think Rawnsley doesn't himself know their background.

This tends to support my theory that Rawnsley isn't too bright.

I suspect VTB recruit locally for influence not knowledge. So Colin Smith from VTB somehow buttonholed Rawnsley, and Rawnsley felt he was talking to fellow "chap" who seemed cut from the same jib and had his same Guardianista sensibilities. Maybe they went to same public school together?

Burgess, Blunt and Maclean (and God knows who else we never heard of) weren't recruited for their innate abilities - they were recruited for their connections ;)

Dec 9, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

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