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« What New Scientist wouldn't print | Main | Still going slow »

Yorkshire goes unconventional

Well this was enough to lull me from my blogging stupor:

Fracking given green light in North Yorkshire

Protesters booed and jeered as councillors gave the go-ahead for the first fracking operation in the UK for five years.

The problem the greens are going to have now is that when the sky doesn't actually fall in, they are going to be left looking pretty dishonest. 


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Reader Comments (487)

michael hart, I think EM and Phil Clarke are demonstrating a fighting retreat, from one firmly entrenched impregnable position, backwards to the next one, as each firmly entrenched impregnable position proves as hopeless as the previous one.

I wonder what advice the Financial Times gives about avoiding shares in Renewable Energy, now that the absurdly generous subsidies are just generous, and they are leaving creditors without an organic bean?

May 26, 2016 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Maybe Phil should learn from ET. Link to a pay-walled article and no one can discover that all he did was read the headline.

May 26, 2016 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Golf Charlie, regarding his economic nous, I'll repeat that the Incurably Entropic Man asked:

I wonder how many of you have invested in Cuadrilla, Thistle or Tamboran?
May 25, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

The last time I checked, two of them are private companies, so BH readers are unlikely to be afforded an opportunity to invest. A well known search engine couldn't even fracking find a fossil-fuel company called Thistle.

Entropic Man's understanding of business, finance, and economics appears to be on the same level as his understanding of science.

The good news is that he says he doesn't teach children science anymore.

May 26, 2016 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Google 'Shale — the unfinished revolution'

From FT Nick Butler blog.

If you live in Europe you could be forgiven for thinking that the shale revolution is strictly an American phenomenon. Casual readers could also easily get the idea that low oil and gas prices are driving down US production of shale gas and tight oil and that even there the revolution is over. All these impressions are mistaken.

May 26, 2016 at 1:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

May 25, 2016 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"Is US shale gas profitable?

The FT thinks not."

FT article title would be helpful so we can Google past the paywall.

May 26, 2016 at 2:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

Maybe 'Fracking has a long way to go despite Yorkshire planning victory'?

Doubts about the commercial viability of UK shale gas linger, however, given that US prices have fallen so much that soon it could be cheaper to import gas than to buy domestically produced supplies.

“There could not be a worse time to be embarking on challenging gas projects,” Howard Rogers, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, recently told the Financial Times.

Yet Mr Cronin said that US producers had become more competitive because of the fall in the price of gas, cutting their costs, introducing new technology and becoming more productive: “We can pick up from those learnings in terms of our next phase,” he said.

Shale gas production still had the potential to be cheaper than other rival production methods, for example in the North Sea, he said.

“The activity we have planned as an industry will not be revenue generating for at least three years … it is it is all about finding what is there and whether it is economical.”

May 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

clipe, who knows?

Unreliable wind and solar still can't deliver on demand, and despite all the money and research, battery technology is unable to balance out peaks and troughs over a 24 hour charge/discharge cycle.

The Unreliable wind and solar subsidised scams can't even generate enough surplus power or money to pay for their own research, so no doubt there will be fresh demands for higher taxes on reliable power to help pay the subsidies for the Unreliable power, including the costs for vested interest groups to keep lobbying for everything to be as equally Unreliable and practically useless.

May 26, 2016 at 6:45 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

#1 GolfCharlie and all are wrong to criticise @EM cos you can get an FT account for free (I've got one ..3 articles/month)

#2 GolfCharlie and all are RIGHT to criticise @EM cos the FT article comes from 2013

I wish there were real warmist posters here instead of ones who appear to be here posting stuff just to disrupt , whilst sat in their paid job. Whereas us skeptics are not paid.
I do hope they find a way out of their cult.

May 26, 2016 at 6:47 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Thanks : May 25, 2016 at 7:10 PM | Gareth

So we have an extraordinary claim that
#1 warmists show a gloating graph showing renewables just touch demand
#2 At the data source Agorameter "the data has been revised."and show renewables supply doesn't get close and maxes out at 10GW below demand

Are they the same graph and data ?
Bloomberg's is labelled : "Germany’s power supply by hour" and shows 3am
Agorameter's is labelled : "Power Generation and Consumption"

I wonder if an analyser blogger has had a good look ?
But Warmists go for PR over truth every time

May 26, 2016 at 7:03 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Yes a there is a debunk .. it was indeeed faulty provisional data
Reports of 100% renewable power in Germany vastly overstated
and correction statement from Agora
The warmist Blog posts will not get corrected cos with then ..It's not about truth , it's about PR
..I guess further into the summer there could be sunny windy days ..and the line could be crossed.

May 26, 2016 at 8:20 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

stewgreen as you have an FT account, any news about great investments in wind and solar that EM has kept to himself? (preferrably sound investment advice that is not 3 years out of date)

It is not an offence in the UK to offer financial advice in good faith, that turns out to be wrong, but is there any news about Tim Yeo and his Guilty verdict, over blatant lies whilst simultaneously trying to profit out of his Green Business interests?

May 26, 2016 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


If you want a broader warmist presence here, stop trying to drive them away.

The FT article was not pay walled. You just have to answer a short quiz.

The economics have not changed since 2013. A little research will show you how to make money in shale gas. Be an exploration company. You drill in a likely spot, demonstrate the presence of shale gas, sell the production rights and move on having made your profit.

Do not be a production company. You drill production wells and then find that you cannot cover your costs. It is notable that, after years in the game, Chesapeake Energy has a $9 billion debt.

In the UK Cuadrilla made its profit by selling rights to Centrica

May 26, 2016 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@GC Em Do you think there less than 3 stories a month about solar firm Bankruptcies ?
Hanergy's chairman and board have been replaced a year after the collapse, turns out the overhyped corp is deeply connected to communist party and officials
..Meanwhile SolarCity is on the way down
..and people are shorting Tesla ..and they meet every failure with another grandiose promise.

What's that ? New Market Report Calls Tesla A ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Similar To Enron

@GC Can I interest you in some Ivanpah shares ?

May 26, 2016 at 8:44 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Love you @EM, but if you set them up I'll knock them down

Did you hear @EM just say a UK fracking corp has ALREADY made a profit ?

" It is notable that, after years in the game, Chesapeake Energy has a $9 billion debt."
...Chesapeake Energy could be $26m richer if it hadn't paid a $26m donation to the Sierra Club's efforts towards closing down the coal companies that compete with it

May 26, 2016 at 8:53 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

EM, a sign of good faith on your part would be to apologize for being so deceptive and then another would be to stop doing the same.

May 26, 2016 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

stewgreen, all these dirty tricks, price rigging and bankruptcies from the Green Blob, who want to disassociate themselves from greedy capitalists.

If it looks like a greedy green capitalist, walks like a greedy green capitalist, and talks like a greedy green capitalist, it is a duck. Or canard, as one of your linked articles was embarrassed to admit being a renewables trade publication.

May 26, 2016 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


I think that's right. Another model would be to recognise that shale production really brings many different techniques together, all of which can be profitable elsewhere, and to simply recognise moves in the gas market and at the right point bring the requisite resources together to create new production wells. Once in production, the production of the wells can be regulated as the market dictates.

The key difference, as far as the UK would be concerned, is that we bring our gas production onshore, where the environment is much more benign, access is available at low cost round the year, and construction and operation are so much cheaper.

May 26, 2016 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

@GC OK what about you buy this special fracking-deabte-coin I just stole from FoE , PC and team
It's marked
Tails : "Gas prices are low " .."Fracking corps are unsustainable and won't make a profit"

Heads : "Gas prices rise" .."There is no point in fracking it won't make your bills cheaper"

May 26, 2016 at 9:17 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I think you ought to take EM more seriously. I could be wrong but I cannot see how gas produ tion companies can make a profit at today's gas prices.

May 26, 2016 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

"at today's gas prices" So ?
Will they pay zero tax ?
The gov could simply drop the tax rate to make corps more profitable , if it wanted

Today's FT headline ..oil rises above $50
Anyway t's no businessof outsiders whether shale is profitable or not.
It's merely upto the companies to take the risks and obey the laws.
It may well be that setting up a little fracking well can generate so much gas that startup costs are quickly repaid.

May 26, 2016 at 9:43 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Another strange thing.

Solar is so wonderful, it's almost as cheap as CCGT production. So cheap, they don't need subsidies.

OK: so where are the solar industries rolling out solar farm after solar farm in the UK? It was all gung ho! last year.

But still those sucker shalers keep stepping up to the plate in the US.

Every one's mad apart from the greens.

May 26, 2016 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Alan Kendall It is a mistake to get into this argument if you do not have all the facts.

EM You have some factual headlines but do not know the whole story.

The US shale industries, both gas and oil have been through a hard time and many small and inefficient companies have fallen by the wayside/been taken over. The companies that are left are using the latest technology and are profitable at the lowest prices so far seen.
I will do some research and find the latest cost of getting the gas to the surface.

May 26, 2016 at 11:10 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Alan Kendall, at todays low prices of oil, gas is not the cheapest option. Green Blob experts told us that oil and gas would run out and as they did so, would get more expensive, so the higher cost of Unreliables was something we would all have to get used to. This was an absolute fact, and something used to persuade much of the population, and particularly politicians why it was worth investing in Unreliables, even though they are Unreliable.

I remember the doom and gloom, plus economic chaos in 1973/4 as a schoolboy as OPEC flexed it's muscles, and found it could get away with it.

NOBODY predicted the oil price crash. NOBODY is able to predict when/if OPEC will manage to restrict supplies to boost profits. The Green Blob are stuck with their economic models, based on out of date facts. Shale gas is there, it exists, it is real, it can be delivered. We do not know how much exists in the UK, 10 years supply? 100 years? 1000 years? The Green Blob don't want anybody to know how much reliable power lies beneath our feet.

With Shale gas, WE can keep the lights on, and off, at the flick of a switch. Reliant on Unreliables, someone else will turn our lights off at the flick of a switch.

Does anyone else wonder why all this money is being spent to make us feel positive about Smart electricity meters, that are easily turn-off-and-on-able, by others, when THEY see fit?

I am sure all Government Departments, at Central, County and Local levels able to send out tax bills have emergency supplies backed up by diesel generators, that can't be turned off by others.

May 26, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Forgot to add .....

It doesn't matter how cheap or expensive fossil fuels are, they work. Unreliables still won't work whatever the cost to the taxpayer.

The Green Blob also failed to attend this course in basic supply and demand economics, but are very good at trying to make everything practical, impractical for cost reasons, to make their stupid ideas seem not as uneconomic.

May 26, 2016 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Alan I think people are upset at EM's point cos its 'hand waving'
Smug debater : "'Oh, there's a killer argument see this link'
whereas a Good debater actually bothers to explain their points (and then put a link so people can get extra info)

I'm sick of the smugs sending us on wild goose chases..
If they are not hand-waving they are often mud-slinging.

I can't resist saying that 'as a business that consistently makes a loss and pollutes the environment, why is the Guardian allowed to go on ?'

May 26, 2016 at 11:32 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Perhaps EM is arguing for shale subsidies like wind and solar get?

At least the results of the shale subsidies would be worth paying for.

May 26, 2016 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Nial, you may have a very valid point.

Exploration for shale should now proceed. The initial cost and disruption is site access roads, some noise and mess and then silence.

Wind turbines have proceeded with high initial costs, disruption, noise, new roads, and, no noise equals no energy, lots of noise equals lots of energy.

Why can't fracking wells be drilled on the same sites as wind turbines, assuming there is gas beneath? No new roads required, some noise during installation, and then no visual or acoustic disturbance. How can Greenpeace object? Or the Planning Authorities?

Obviously Greenpeace will object, but hypocrisy is not a legal justifection for being objectionable.

May 26, 2016 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

This post is an attempt to bring some realistic estimates of our shale gas reserves in the UK. Cuadrilla said they had 200 Trillion cubic metres in place in Lancashire and the British Geological Survey did not disagree. In 2012 Cuadrilla estimated that 40% was recoverable but that as technology improved that percentage would increase, technology has improved as US drillers struggled to survive. Annual Natural gas usage in the UK was 100 Billion cubic metres at its highest level in the last decade (half that today). So 80 Trillion Cubic Metres reserve being used at 100 Billion cubic Metres per year, I calculate 800 years worth of gas in Lancashire alone.
I have written to the government several times warning tham that they need to build Liquified Natural Gas export terminals because they have so much gas in the UK.

May 26, 2016 at 2:53 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I LOL'd at this misquote...

: "Although fracking has been widely used in the UK the volumes of fluids and proponents pumped into the ground ....

The word, in case any journalist is reading, is proppant.....

May 26, 2016 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterHysteria
May 26, 2016 at 3:09 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Of course the Green Blob masterstroke was to get the EU to ban gas cookers, central heating etc.

Not a good way for the EU to inspire confidence.

Are there any Green Blob predictions about the number of additional deaths this will cause across Europe, particularly amongst the sick, elderly and poor, because they can't afford to buy and run electric equivalents?

May 26, 2016 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I love the fact that EM and PC keep bleating on about gas not being a profitable industry and that companies are going bust left right and centre. If that really was the case, then it wouldn't bother me as my taxes haven't been spent on the enterprise without any agreement from me. Now, renewables, well that's a completely different story...

Bottom line is, we need gas and it's got to be extracted somewhere, therefore someone somewhere will be making a profit, despite what EM and PC believe. They obviously don't have a good understanding of basic economics.

BTW I didn't realise that EM used to be a science teacher. I'm currently a maths and science teacher, and I make sure my kids hear the sceptic point of view. I bet that little factoid will really have steam blowing out EM's ears :)

May 26, 2016 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Smith

Re: Phil Clarke,

> In Support: 36
> Against: 4375

My local planning office currently has a couple of thousand active planning applications before it. I've read several of them and have no opposition to them. Have a guess at how many of them I have written to the council to say "I support it"? The answer is zero.

I have opposed 2 planning applications, both of them were applications to build new homes on greenbelt. My opposition was unsuccessful.

It isn't the job of the planning office to hold a referendum on a planning application. If it were then they would have to abide by all of the rules of the electoral commission. It is their job to decide whether the application is legally permissible and whether the impacts and risks are acceptable.

I've also read about a dozen of the opposition letters and none of them claimed to live in Kirby Misperton. Most simply claimed fracking is dangerous, some claimed they often spent their holidays in the area.

May 26, 2016 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

David Smith, good to hear that teachers are allowed to teach, and not forced to indoctrinate.

I don't know whether a former pupil has ever sued an Education Authority, School or Teacher for deliberately teaching incorrect information, and therefore planning the failure of a child. Relying on the 97% consensus as a defence might work for some, but if as a science teacher, they had presented themselves as an 'expert'?

May 26, 2016 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie 11:18 AM - you are correct (IMO) about 'smart' meters, which will be able to cut the supply to individual consumers who are considered to be over-using at times of shortage. Thet will also be used for differential pricing, where electricity costs more at peak times and more still when the wind isn't blowing and the sun not shining.

May 26, 2016 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D


If you want a broader warmist presence here, stop trying to drive them away.

The FT article was not pay walled. You just have to answer a short quiz.

The economics have not changed since 2013. A little research will show you how to make money in shale gas. Be an exploration company. You drill in a likely spot, demonstrate the presence of shale gas, sell the production rights and move on having made your profit.

Do not be a production company. You drill production wells and then find that you cannot cover your costs. It is notable that, after years in the game, Chesapeake Energy has a $9 billion debt.

In the UK Cuadrilla made its profit by selling rights to Centrica

IIRC Centrica is the okuk company which is investing with the intent of producing and selling shale gas. You want shale gas flowing? Encourage BH readers to buy Centrica shares, form a voting block and lobby the board to expedite production.

May 26, 2016 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Mick J
I'd never heard of Flamingo Land far less knew where it was prior to all this, now I know the layout of the place. Truly it's an ill wind.

May 26, 2016 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

David Smith

As a science teacher who believes in teaching the sceptic view may I ask about a few topics.

What proportion of your time is spent teaching the flat earth view, as opposed to the oblate sphere earth?

How much time do you spend on the aristotelian solar system as opposed to the Copernican one?

How much time do you spend on intelligent design as opposed to evolution? Do you discuss the insights that intelligent design gives to those attempting to mitigate antibiotic resistance?

On climate,what alternative hypothesis do you teach to explain how the atmosphere , oceans and ice are warming without changing the greenhouse effect?

Most important of all, how do you teach your pupils to discriminate between valid and invalid hypotheses?

May 26, 2016 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

This post is an attempt to bring some realistic estimates of our shale gas reserves in the UK. Cuadrilla said they had 200 Trillion cubic metres in place in Lancashire and the British Geological Survey did not disagree

It was cubic feet, not metres. That would be less than 6 trillion cubic metres.

"In September 2011, Cuadrilla announced it had discovered 200 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of Gas in Place within the Bowland shale in Lancashire."

In 2012 Cuadrilla estimated that 40% was recoverable but that as technology improved that percentage would increase, technology has improved as US drillers struggled to survive.

Recoverability in the US is 8-20%. Nobody has the faintest idea what the number will be in UK geology but it is unlikely to be better than the US.

 I calculate 800 years worth of gas in Lancashire alone. I have written to the government several times warning tham that they need to build Liquified Natural Gas export terminals because they have so much gas in the UK.

I wonder where they filed the letters.

May 26, 2016 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Boy

Again: It's not your cash, so what is it about proving the viability (or otherwise) of fracking that makes you & your clique so fundamentally opposed?

May 26, 2016 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Just as a point of comparison, the Forties field was the largest in the North Sea. Up until 2003, BP estimated that they had extracted 670 million cubic metres. So the estimates of the Bowland shale gas deposits really are huge even if you take the PC adjusted figures.

May 26, 2016 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

EM you still have not told us what caused the MWP and LIA, but why does there need to be an alternative cause to what caused them, whatever it was?

Phil Clarke. Thank you for confirming the purpose of SMART meters. Compulsory electricity rationing, caused by political sabotage.

Green Blob Jack Boots marching down the street, disguised with patronising adverts about friendlier billing with more accuracy. What a con.

May 26, 2016 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie

Milankovich cycles

May 26, 2016 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


I think it is generally accepted that investing in Victorian railways lost you money - see abstract from Warwick uni paper below - but, just like the Victorian railways, if shale gas proves to be accessible and exploitable in the UK (at the developers' risk - no subsidies like unreliables) just like the Victorian railway experience, the UK will reap immense benefits.

This paper provides new estimates of the return on capital employed (ROCE) for major British railway companies. It shows that ROCE was generally below the cost of capital after the mid-1870s and fell till the turn of the century. Addressing cost inefficiency issues could have restored ROCE to an adequate level in the late 1890s but not in 1910. Declines in ROCE hit share prices and investors made little or no money in real terms after 1897. Optimal portfolio analysis shows that, whilst railway securities were attractive to investors before this date, they would have been justified in rushing to the exits thereafter.

May 26, 2016 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Firstly I must apologise for my huge egg on face mistake earlier today ^.^ the figure was indeed 200 trillion cubic feet not cubic metres and I guess the egg will stick for quite a while hehe.
However at 2016 levels of consumption the Bowland shale gas would provide all our gas for 28 years. I do not believe that the 200 Trillion figure will end up being correct.
In 2012 the US was extracting gas from the Marcellus shale play and there was estimated to be 141 Trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the play. However in 2015 14.4 Billion cubic feet of gas was being extracted per day and so in 7 days they were exctracting enough gas for one year's consumption in the UK.
At one point the Marcellus shale was producing 36% of the US total.
90% of the Marcellus shale is less than 150 feet thick but the Bowland shale is at least 3,000 feet thick so forgive me for being optimistic.

May 26, 2016 at 8:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Having been given gratuitous advice not to post unless I know all my facts, this is what I "know". Before 2015 when oil prices were high, fracked gas production commonly barely broke even. Fracking shale is expensive, wells stop producing much more quickly than conventional gas wells and must be re fracked (additional expense) or abandoned. Most gas production companies were greatly overextended, having reinvested any profit in acquiring new land rights. The name of the game was to expand as rapidly as possible.

I am aware that it is claimed that technological changes have driven down costs, but I have my doubts. Even if drilling costs decreased by 20% (most unlikely) other costs are more or less fixed - pumping costs, waste water disposal and environmental monitoring costs, well completion costs, royalties and taxation.

So, with a substantial drop in oil (and thus gas) prices, I still cannot see how gas production companies are making profits. They continue to operate because they have supply contracts to meet, and to maintain market share.

If anyone has evidence to the contrary I would love to hear it.

May 26, 2016 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

It is funny, the dissonance between the anti-frackers’ arguments. See the views of Phil Clarke and Entropic man: on the one hand, they do not want these corporations “raping” the land for their personal gain, getting filthy rich while the locals suffer; but on the other hand, they cannot understand why there is this rush for gas, as they know that it will never pay, and all companies taking part are doomed to lose big money, and fail!

May 26, 2016 at 9:38 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

Curious to find a subject on which I am the sceptic and you are the credulous believer.

May 26, 2016 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

With regard to the number of written objections as opposed to the number of written letters of support. There was no requirement or need for those who agreed with the proposition to write to the council at all. So they didn't.

The planning officers had recommended passing the application and that is all you needed to know if you were a resident who agreed.

May 26, 2016 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterANH

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