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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Issue 1. Fracking uses too much water

No, actually quite insignificant, but needs to be taken account of in licensing and planning
Fracking does use a lot of water, but an insignificant amount compared with some other main uses. In The Environment Agency`s December 2008 assessment “Water resources in England and Wales - current state and future pressures”, we find that the UK uses about 60,000 megalitres per day, of which 35,000 megalitres per day is from freshwater sources (non-tidal surface waters and groundwater). About 10,000 megalitres per day of this freshwater are used in the generation of electricity, about 17,000 megalitres per day on domestic uses, and a further 3500 megalitres per day is wasted through leaking pipes, with the remainder accounted for by industry and agriculture. The UK’s water usage has been fairly constant from 2000 until 2008.

Peak water use for a mature shale gas industry has been robustly estimated to be about 15 megalitres per day (10 new wells and 40 laterals per year at 54.4 megalitres per well) which is supported by the Institute of Directors report “Getting shale gas working” 22 May 2013) in their calculation that a mature shale gas industry in the UK would use about 0.05% of the UK ground and surface waters per year.

However small the extraction, there is the possibility that fracking processes would stress further some location where there is already considerable water stress. This situation should be accounted for. The UK Government document Planning practice guidance for onshore oil and gas, which contains guidance on how shale gas (and other onshore oil and gas) developments should proceed through England’s planning system, explicitly recommends that planners should take water availability into account as a criterion for whether hydraulic fracturing should be licensed (Ref: ISBN 9781409839606 PDF, 579KB, 29 pages, ).

Why "All Gas and Gaiters"?

This title is appealing because it has been used in two senses.

Originally, the phrase ALL IS GAS AND GAITERS first appeared in Dickens’ Nicolas Nickleby.It was spoken by a mad old man who was courting Mrs. Nickleby, having arrived down her chimney in his underwear. The wording is nonsensical, but carries the implication that everything is more than satisfactory. The expression caught on and became a popular 19th-century interjection which continues to have its original positive meaning.

After all, Shale gas might be beneficial for the UK if developed sensibly and for the good of all.

However, in the late 19th century an additional and negative meaning gained ground. The expression came to be applied to bishops and other church dignitaries, a reference to their traditional GAITERS and to the seeming GAS many exuded with their ‘facile eloquence,’ pompous sermonizing, and meaningless verbiage. But the expression soon began to be applied in a general derogatory description of what is produced by any variety of pompous and ill-informed commentator.

While no one would suggest that The Church of England is the target of this blog, and it is hoped that the contents of this blog do not fall into the category of facile eloquence (this is a dash of humility inspired by Pope Francis). The growth of ill-informed and often completely wrong information that is peddled daily about shale gas from all sides continues unabated.

It is hoped that All Gas and Gaiters will fulfill is aim to offer an accurate, sensible and rational approach to the shale gas debate that is supported by scientific evidence.

Of course, the comments the blog contains are solely the opinions of Prof. Glover and are not endorsed by any other person or organisation, nor has Prof. Glover ever been paid to make them public by any person or organisation.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Clear sensible scientific balanced and reliable

This is a new blog from me,  Paul Glover. It is primarily intended as an occasional portal for comments on the shale gas in the UK and around the world.

The purpose of this blog is to answer current important questions concerning the development of shale gas in the UK with balanced factual responses that are supported by evidence and experience.

The important thing is that the comments should be:
Balanced and

So, who am I?

I am the Professor of Petrophysics at Leeds University, UK. Petrophysics is the study of the physical properties of rocks - porosity, permeability, fluid content and so on, and it is used in the oil industry, but also in geothermal, water resources, remediation of pollution in the ground, safe storage of toxic and radioactive wastes, mechanisms that cause earthquakes to occur, volcanoes to erupt, and so on. I feel that I am well qualified to comment in a scientific and balanced way on the Earth and Environmental aspects of shale gas, particularly as I have supervised research students studying it, and have made numerous presentations to groups on the subject.

In addition I have an unsalaried advisory post with a Canadian oil and gas company that has been interested in shale gas in the past. That probably makes me unique - an unbiased scientist with an insight into how the industry thinks and works.

The plan is to write short informative articles about contentious aspects of shale gas in the UK.

My initial list of titles is as follows, but will no doubt be expanded, and will appear in no particular order.

Fracking can and will contaminate aquifers

Fracking can and will cause earthquakes

Fracking uses too much water

Fracking fluids are dangerously toxic

Fracking fluids cannot be recycled in an environmentally responsible fashion

Fracked shale gas wells will pepper the countryside with unsightly eyesores

The development of fracked wells will overload road access with heavy goods vehicles

There is insufficient regulation for fracking to be carried out safely in the UK

Shale gas is better for the environment than other forms of energy

Shale gas exploitation will provide jobs and stimulate the economy

Shale gas exploitation has to be started now if we are to reap its benefits


      I hope you feel more informed and better capable of making decisions related to shale gas exploitation in the light of this blog.