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Discussion > The price of fracking

golfCharlie. My posts stand by themselves and do not depend on whatever EM writes. At one stage you seemed to be advancing the case that the disturbance and inconvience experienced by local residents to a fracked well and the erection of a wind turbine might be comparable. I do not believe this is anywhere near the truth. I have not experienced either but 1) UEA once threatened us with building a wind turbine close to our home and I took pains to inform myself about the consequences (it turned out that flicker in the evenings would be the worst) and 2) I have sat conventional oil wells (as the resident geologist) and have read around the subject of the environmental consequences of fracking (using this in discussions with green-minded students at UEA).

Nov 12, 2016 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

General question to anyone who knows the answer, how well does concrete survive when in a wet acidic environment?

Nov 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy, I'll apologise in advance for giving what might seem like an unhelpful answer. The environment of regular rainfall is "acidic", even far from sites of human activity. Yet your eyes don't sting when it rains. CO2 may make some parts of the oceans 'more acidic' (less alkaline), but the effects will probably be of similarly small magnitude.

There is not much value in me adding points about the pH-sensitivity of various reactions that can happen with the components of concrete. The concepts of acids and acidity are most frequently employed in the media when somebody is trying to alarm somebody else who is probably less familiar, or equally unfamiliar, with chemistry. There are many other physical and chemical factors of equal or greater importance. The question was incomplete/insufficient.

Nov 12, 2016 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

SandyS. Concrete resistance to acidic conditions also depends very much on the composition of the cement binder and the makeup of the aggregate. There is no single answer to your question. If the concrete is known to be likely to be in contact with acidic conditions (more acidic than rainwater) it is likely that a hydraulic cement composed predominantly of various calcium and magnesium silicates (low carbonate and hydrate contents) would be used. Furthermore all components of the aggregates would be tested. Any sulphides would be an absolute no-no. Sometimes these tests through up surprises. Some cherts from the Cretaceous Lower Greensand of the Weald, which would be expected to behave like most flints from the Chalk (= inertly) are very reactive.

A well designed concrete would be expected to be much less reactive than limestone building stones - unless you do stupid things like add iron bars. Much of the award winning UEA brutalist buildings were so constructed and each year there was a constant maintenance and replacement requirement. When interlinking walkways have to be replaced, all sorts of access problems ensue.

Nov 12, 2016 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

… any drilling of a well is very disruptive in a densely populated country like Britain…
Is it? Other than the disruptive hordes of protestors at a few sites, can you give examples of that? Drilling and fracking has been, and still is going on in this country; where is this disruption? Who in the Fylde even knew that fracking was taking place? How are the people of Poole being disrupted with what is going on at Wytch Farm? What disruption occurred when the site on an RSPB reserve in Nottinghamshire took place? Or the one in Norfolk? Or, for that matter, the many other sites where it has already taken place?

With Kirby Misperton, we have the opportunity to engage in “scientific” monitoring of its effects; will that challenge be met, or will it be hi-jacked for political reasons?

Nov 12, 2016 at 6:02 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR before contesting my claim (backed up with evidence concerning the amounts of material that are required to drill one well) perhaps you might provide evidence that local inhabitants were not inconvienced by the hundreds of lorry movements and the noise involved at the sites you mentioned. Also recall that the Council's initial rejection of the application was on the basis of he incompatibility of the local infrastructure to support the traffic involved in and around Fylde.

Wytch Farm field was drilled from a wooded island in Poole Bay - no immediate inhabitants, and was drilled using perhaps the most stringent envoromental conditions ever imposed anywhere. BP were justifiably proud of their efforts and success.

I have sat a conventional well and so know first hand how noisy, smelly and dirty it was. In an inhabited area I can imagine how remedial measures could be employed but I doubt they could be 100% effective.

Nov 12, 2016 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Point of order : you can't prove a negative, you can only prove a positive.
So the technique of claiming effects , then failing to provide evidence
..and shouting at other people to provide counter evidence ....reflects badly on the shouter.

+ A real world experience expert is useful (and better than an academic),
but I bet if they retired years earlier they can be surprised how things have moved on.

Nov 12, 2016 at 7:41 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

SandyS, you can vary the chemistry of concrete to make it more resistant to penetration by water, and water soluble acids. Mixing concrete using water with an acid pH, normally would not be a problem. You can also make the dimensions of concrete deeper, thicker, wider etc so there is a sacrificial cover/thickness. Not all variations to concrete chemistry, whether intentional or accidental are a success. Google "high alumina cement" and "alkali silica reaction".

I have not been to the UEA Campus, but 1950s-80s saw some pretty poor working practices on building sites with reinforced concrete. Even if the chemistry was correct, if there was inadequate thickness to the concrete surrounding the steel reinforcement, and it started to corrode, it expands, cracks, allows more water in, more corrosion, more cracks etc. Rust stains and spalling concrete are normally the first signs of problems, that were built in by poor workmanship with the steel and shuttering/formwork.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

ACK 3:36, all we ever hear is how wonderful wind turbines are, and how nasty fracking is.

Anyone who voices concern about wind turbines is vilified. Nobody is allowed to be able to make their mind up about fracking. The increased noise, traffic, environmental contamination and pollution produced by anti-fracking demonstrators "probably" exceeds that which might be produced by fracking.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Whoa there, Trigger erm... Minty! You are the one who made the claim; you are the one who needs evidence to substantiate it – I do not have any requirement of evidence to the contrary. I thought you understood how science works?

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Stewgreen. Think about what your writing. It was RR who claimed that the inhabitants were not inconvenienced - based on what evidence? I provided evidence that a well would require literally hundreds of lorry movements along narrow roads -some carrying loads that would be difficult to transport along much better roads. The objections accepted by the County Planning Office was evidence that this disturbance is considered both intrusive and significant - enough to refuse permission to drill. I provided first hand experience but this is almost dismissed by you as probably out of date - but on what evidence? Absolutely none! I even commented that my experience could probably be mitigated, so reducing the impact somewhat in a more populated area.
There was no shouting on my part - just in your mind perhaps?
What do you bring to the table other than fatuous remarks about proving negatives? I will be interested to learn what you know about this subject. Tell us all.

When I ask RR to prove her case we are continuing a very friendly rivalry with (I hope) no hostility (although she did accuse me of having sloping shoulders).

Those with first hand experience, even after retirement, tend to keep up to date by discussing matters with former colleagues, and read more intently on those subjects when they appear - I still regularly read an oil and gas trade journal for example.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

stewgreen, I am not inclined to believe any "expert" supporting the Green Blob. ACK is not speaking out either pro or anti.

A single fracking site can produce more usable energy than ten thousand windturbines on a windless day. Unless a wind turbine tower houses a diesel generator and tankage for a month of continuous use, they are nothing but Milibands Follies.

EM's guesstimates about lorry loads per kilowatt are just Greenwash, intended for politicians, planners, and other gullible fools.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Entropic man
It was a vague question. It was triggered by the thought of concrete bases sitting in peat saturated in acidic water for 40 years. I know rain is acidic I have a swimming pool I put up in summer for the grandchildren checking pH/Cl is a regular task. The ph of a peat bog is 5 or less, which is more acidic than rainwater and is in acid rain territory.

I just wondered what evidence there was for the integrity of concrete in those conditions for that length of time.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Rr sorry but it was your claim that inhabitants of several drilling sites suffered little inconvenience. It's for you to demonstate this. I claim the reasons given by the Lancashire Minerals Planning Committee are sufficient to prove what I maintained about undue inconvenience to local residents.

I stated, WITH EVIDENCE, that fracked wells cause more inconvenience than the erection of a wind turbine. You maintained that the drilling of existing wells caused no problems. This is your claim, so it is for you to demonstrate this - published comments by residents that they experienced no inconvenience would do it.

Yes I do know how science is supposed to work - we had a discussion about this only a few days ago. I do hope your not experiencing memory problems.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Sandy S. I very much doubt that a drilling pad or the base for a wind turbine would be laid directly upon peat. This would be dug out (possibly replaced by hardcore). If acid water drainage might occur I suspect it would be intercepted and drained away.

Nov 12, 2016 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK


The initial flow rate from a well is not representative of its average rate. The rate of flow drops off very quickly. IIRC the half life is about six months.

These a 12,000Mcf initial flow becomes 6000Mcf after 6 months, 3000Mcf after 1 year and 1500Mcf after 18 months. This is why refracting has to be done every couple of years.

I used the six month flow as more representative of the average flow.

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

ACK & SandyS

Depending on the depth of peat, you could dig it out, pumping out water as it backfilled. It might even be possible to use pumps to extract the peat.

You could drill and sink boreholes around your proposed hole and pump the water out for a week or so, to locally "dewater" or drain the site before digging.

Having dug your hole, draping a very large sheet of polythene over the hole and pouring concrete onto it, would cause it to be weighted down into the hole, whilst groundwater was excluded.

You could drive interlocking sheet piles around the perimeter, dig out the middle and fill with concrete.

All possible using tried and tested technology. Basements are built below groundwater level regularly.

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie

You are weird. My fracking, gas and electricity generation info came from industry websites. Why would the oil and gas industries falsify data about their own operations?

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Golf Charlie

You are weird. My fracking, gas and electricity generation info came from industry websites. Why would the oil and gas industries falsify data about their own operations?

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM 9:33, do you have any reliable information for actual output from a windturbine, and how that declines over time? How about a graph of declining output? Actual life expectancy before replacement is required, whether it is transmission failure or output decline?

These are the questions that are now going to be asked with increasing regularity, if taxpayers are not forced to pay for windturbines, and private investors have to make decisions based on profit v loss, not subsidies.

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

EM 9:48, you are very selective.

How does the size of the fracking site in your video compare with those proposed in the UK?

Nov 12, 2016 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie

I am not inclined to believe any "expert" supporting the Green Blob.

EM's guesstimates about lorry loads per kilowatt are just Greenwash, intended for politicians, planners, and other gullible fools.

Pull your weight.

I tire of doing your research for you, especially when honest analysis is met with comments like your 8.29PM.

Besides, you are more likely to believe data you have found for yourself.

Nov 12, 2016 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Rr sorry but it was your claim that inhabitants of several drilling sites suffered little inconvenience. [sic]
Ah, I see where our division has occurred – please read my Nov 12, 2016 at 6:02 PM comment again; I made no such claim, I merely questioned if anyone had suffered inconvenience. Of course, the definition of “inconvenience” has to be agreed; might I suggest that it has to be more than looking out of the window and remarking, “Ooh, there are rather a lot of lorries going past, today…” Perhaps a scientific monitoring of the re-fracking (note: after some 10-15 years, NOT a "couple of years...") at Kirby Misperton would be a good place to start.

Nov 12, 2016 at 10:57 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

EM, why do you place such faith in evidence you have been supplied with?

Windfarms have been a useless waste of money as they require reliable power to back them up. This has been pointed out for years, without demonstrators or acts of sabotage, and peaceful and polite people have been ignored, and revolting mob rule, has dominated.

Now it is time to try fracking. Presumably the revolting mob will be mobilised and have their travel expenses paid for by Big Green?

Big Wind has been false claims and non delivery. Why should anyone treat adverse criticsm of fracking in the UK seriously? Based on what evidence?

Nov 12, 2016 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

EM, you need to do your research better if you are trying to sell an idea. Your sums don't work. You are the maths expert. You have been given false evidence. Climate Science needs to get honest.

Gavin Schmidt style (sigh) does not work. The 1st birthday of the Paris Climate waste of money is coming up, and nobody is going to be celebrating.

Nov 12, 2016 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

EM, golfCharlie. I,ll answer, as best I can, the question of comparability of size of a USA and UK fracking well. The size will be dominated by 1) the depth to which the well is drilled, 2) the amount of fracking fluid to be injected (in large part determined by the brittleness of the shale), and 3) requirements imposed by authorities with regard to noise suppresion and especially safety measures in the case of spills or other eventualities (would fire suppresion equipment need to be present at all times for example).
UK operations are
1) As deep or deeper in Lancashire (a minimum of 9000 feet),
2) unknown or kept propriety information. Each different basin and shale in the USA has its own best method (fluid pressure, make up of fracking fluid) which had to be found by trial and error.
3) I would suspect UK would be more rigidly controlled than in parts of the USA, but there might be controls imposed in the UK on the maximum size of the drilling pad and its associated area.
All I have done, I see, is share my ignorance. However, my guess is that UK sites are hardly likely to be smaller, unless there are size regulations imposed by the authorities.

Nov 13, 2016 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK