E.U. Supernanny will control Britain’s use of its Sovereign shale gas reserves

Posted: December 9, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in Earthquakes, Energy, flames, Geology, government, Legal, media, Politics, Robber Barons

From the Guardian:

fracking-toonThe chancellor, George Osborne, announced last week that the coalition would offer tax breaks to fracking firms, and intended to set up a new regulator for “unconventional gas”.

The energy secretary, Ed Davey, is shortly expected to lift restrictions on fracking at a site in Lancashire.

But Leinan, a member of the German SPD, spoke of the European parliament‘s growing concern over large-scale fracking, adding that it would pass new regulations to “manage, to discipline” the sector. He said: “There are basically only two countries where the government is behind using it. It is Poland and it is Great Britain, and Poland has not gone very fast. Then in Great Britain they give green light for industrial exploitation but they have to know what they are doing.

I don’t know if they can be so sure and clear about what they are doing.

He said.

Leinan told the Observer that whatever the level of gas that could be extracted might be, anxiety over the risks demanded regulation that would fix safety standards across the EU.

He added that the European parliament had already voted in favour of the commission exploring what new laws were now necessary.

Leinan said: “We need new elements [of law]. Whether we fit them into existing legislation or create a ‘fracking law’ is still an open question.

If fracking gets used as a method for energy supply it is a major issue. We will be busy with this sector for some time to manage it, to discipline it.

Leinan said that among the regulations would be a demand for full disclosure on the chemicals used in the fracking process. He also suggested that fracking should not be attempted near water supplies nor near urban areas, due to the risk of earthquakes.


Earthquakes? Will they be any more problematic than the subsidence which deformed roadways around coalmines?

I am interested to know more about the ‘chemicals’ though.

  1. oldbrew says:

    The USA being the world leader in fracking has its own EPA study underway, but its final report isn’t due until 2014.


    ‘they have to know what they are doing’

    Britain is using American drillers with fracking experience. It would be wrong to think they are novices.

  2. mitigatedsceptic says:

    Typically fracking is conducted between 5,000 and 25,000 feet i.e. a very, very long way down. This seems to be overlooked by most of the objectors.

    Just like AGW, debaters and legislators commit the ‘fallacy of scale’. While worrying everyone sick about very unlikely risks, most objectors seem to forget thousands are slaughtered on the roads every year. Speed kills, yet no one seems to want to reintroduce the man with the red flag or speed limits of 20 kph on motorways.

    If the EU bureaucrats are at a loss for things to legislate about why don’t they compel everyone in Britain to drive on the right or decimalising time instead of obstructing every new technology that comes along?

  3. [...] Tallbloke’s Talkshop: E.U. Supernanny will control Britain’s use of its Sovereign shale [...]

  4. alexjc38 says:

    To anyone who has lived any length of time in Japan, as I have, the “earthquakes” caused by fracking are laughable!

  5. bilbaoboy says:

    Can I recommend the energy institute (with lower case) of the University of Texas at Houston. They have a 400+ page report (and a 50+ page summary) on the history of frakking and all the data available on the environmental problems. A massive and scholarly effort that European politicians don’t seem to want to know about. No problems finding their web. Go!

  6. cosmic says:

    The main reason shale gas has been opposed in the UK is that it threatens the government’s green dreams, which reality is starting to close in on, hence a reluctant change of heart.

    The UK governments’s green dreams are part of the EU’s green dreams, nothing to do with saving the planet and everything to do with extending the power of the EU. Shale gas is a nightmare from certain points of view. It allows targets to be met and makes redundant much of the machinery for implementing them, inefficiently and at vast cost. No wonder it has to be regulated, “for our safety”.

  7. Doug Proctor says:

    Injection of fluids in Canada and the United States in the oil and gas business has long been associated with minor earthquakes, the type that are micro-quakes that nobody notices but instruments pickup, or the greater type that are like big trucks rumbling by. It appears that the crust is in a state of below-threshold tension and compression in most places.

    Since injection and fracturing preferentially seek out low pressure and tensile strength areas, natural weak planes receive the most energy of hydraulic fracturing. In fact, we in the industry count on it: you cannot create widespread permeability with frac’ing, no matter what some might say. Frac’ing works because an artificially created fracturing pattern around a wellbore connects and/or enhances existing mini-pipelines within the rock mass.

    For all those with a calculating brain, you can easily imagine what happens if you create a kilometer of reasonable permeability in an otherwise length of tombstone, tight rock. Except for what might leak into the new, open fracture from the sides, nothing can get to the fracture. But if along the length of the fracture you have an additional natural system of cross-linked fractures, even if only a few of them, you have access of miles of leakage into the combined fractures. The leakage may be slow today, which is why production falls (extraction>replenishment), but in the millions of years that existed prior to you drilling your well, those fractures filled up with fluids at a pressure (force) equal to (and sometimes greater than) the total of the rock mass column above. The difference between a “good” and “bad” well in a shale-type well is the amount of connectivity, the total number of fluid filled spaces and the pressure differential between the wellbore and the surround rock.

    (In fact, a lot of “shale” reservoirs are not shale, but very thin silt-sized sand laminae within a dominantly shale section. The silt laminae have reasonable porosity and permeability, but are isolated vertically from each other. Biut because they are silica-rich within a shale column, any bending of the more plastic shale component causes the laminae to break, i.e. fracture like a ceramic plate packed too deeply in the shipping container. These fracture patterns can even be spherical, but they are still isolated vertically. That is where the hydraulic fractures come in, splitting the shale barriers vertically, connecting these laminae. Those trained in physics will also realise that you need to be in a neutral to tensile environment to keep fractures open, or push frac-sand into the cracks to keep them open. Which is what they do! Water plus gel plus chemicals are used to “carry” the frac sands into the f.ractures where they “prop” the fractures open, which is why they are called “proppants”.)

    Back to the earthquakes.

    Yes, all this rock mass shifts or can shift. In western Canada there are thick, Devonian or older sections of salt more than 100m thick, perhaps a kilometer or more down (minable places, closer). These salts have been dissolving ever since mountains existed to funnel fresher water down dip from surface conduits. South of Regina, Saskatchewan, there have always been minor earthquakes associated with slippages with the ongoing loss of salt. Some of these have more recently been blamed on oil and gas extraction.

    But let us be practical and sensible. The world is not static (hello! Eco-green!). The earthquakes wouldn’t, for the most part, be noticeable unless someone was measuring, and probably are part of the background that the scientists are aware of but nobody asked them about before there was a philosophical-political reason for asking.

    The public can be made afraid of a Mexico City, Haiti or Kobe outcome because for many people earthquakes are all the same and all areas have the same potential outcome. Unfortunately, any attempt of bring context into the disucussion will be relegated to the category of self-serving denialism by the oil and gas industry.

    Sometimes we can’t win.

    Overall, however, experience here says that the government does, indeed, need to impose, monitor and modify as needed regulations within the industry. Local surface water sources may not replenish themselves as fast as they are used. Of course, this usage is high in the beginning, declining with time. Again, the eco-green will speak as if the fracing will go on forever. It won’t, much to the worry and dismay of the Industry.

    One thing you might see, and which is not a bad thing, are regulations on speed of withdrawal. These “allowables” have two purposes. The first is to prevent premature water incursion into reservoirs due to excessive pressure differentials pulling water up while gas (liquid form, of course) remains at a greater distance. The second is to manage the resource. In these days of so-called energy security, setting limits to how long a field is supposed to last is good for the nation, but does limit profit over time ratios for the mineral owners. In the Canadian West we had a 17-year limit back in the 1980s, that is, you determined your rate of withdrawal by taking the theoretical total recoverable and then dividing by 17. It didn’t work out as well as they thought, as what happened was that fields were underdeveloped, i.e. you only needed 5 wells when you could have drilled 15. Reserves tend to be biggger than you thought over time, as the lifetime of low rates are either hard to predict or, you think at the time, unprofitable (so you cut off the recoverable early). Plus, we have found by increased drilling density that fields that are supposed to be one, uniform and connected sheet are, in fact, laterally equivalent but broken up into multiple pieces beyond the ability of seismic and mapping to demonstrate prior to drilling. But minimizing drilling is in the combined interests of the eco-green (less surface disruption) and government (longer revenue and energy stream).

    The reason I say that regulations are not a bad thing is that experience from the 1870s in North America has shown that, without reason to do otherwise, in a competitive, “rule-by-capture” environment, it is in the interests of the individual to maximize his return upfront. He may, in fact, be producing oil or gas from an adjacent mineral lease, as nobody knows really where his fluids come from, so if he can produce faster than his neighbour, his ultimate recovery will be greater, but at the neighbour’s expense. I have also seen one company in particular “crank” on wells because their stock value depended on what they were producing today, while the managers worked on the belief/hope that tomorrow they would find more. A fool’s thought except in the short-term logic of the short-term investor.

    Just some thoughts.

  8. Caz says:

    Given that the Earth’s crust is constantly in motion what are the risks with super high rise buildings failing to remain to their local vertical?

  9. mitigatedsceptic says:

    Thank you Doug Proctor – most illuminating. I stand corrected and agree, on the strength of your evidence, that legislation will be needed. But so too will education – there are bound to be seismographs all over the place and the media will carry scare stories about quakes shaking pictures off the walls; can we really educate people not to notice? The fear industry is very well developed and knows how to get the adrenaline going.

  10. tchannon says:

    Umm… a good deal of England, largely excluding the arty fart areas has a long history of mining, minor ‘quakes and subsidence.

    What is proposed is less than that.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Compare and contrast the expert info from Doug and linked in other comments above with this ‘report’ from Gleick’s Pacific Institute:

  12. ombzhch says:

    There are two main points here: (a) by the time the EPA get round to trying to regulate Shale Gas it will, simply, be too late,
    (b) Herrn Jo Doktor Leinan, from Freiburg/Bergisau is a Lefty lawyer, as are most influential German Greenies is part of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and is thus hardly unbiased. He and like minded French Lefties are desperately trying to stop the Franco-German population figuring out that there is a way out og the Energy mess he and his Marxist friends have created. You have to understand that these people are the gutmenschen in the moud of Clegg/Davey. Recently German energy prices have skyrocketed due to the Renewables scam. Lunching yesterday in Waldshut, BW, BRD, half the conversation was how the voters could best punish these rougue in the 2013 elections.

    MFG, omb

  13. AlecM says:

    The con being propagated by the greenie eugenicists is to take COSSH reports of chemicals on fraccing sites, which include maintenance fluids for surface equipment inducing vehicles, and then they claim these are used in fraccing.

    This is Goebbels-like propaganda.

  14. michael hart says:

    Yes, thanks Doug Proctor. Good to see someone sensible getting helpful information out there. I’m sure there’s going to be no shortage of unhelpful information.

  15. michael hart says:

    Hmm, given how flat The Fylde is, I’d be surprised if any amount of ground-water is used for drinking purposes in the Blackpool area.

    And with British Nuclear Fuels operating a few miles inland at Salwick, I bet ground-water gets looked at quite a lot already….

  16. Murgatroyd says:

    I thought that most of the water in the north west came from Haweswater and places north of Bowland.

    And the instrumentation nowadays is so sensitive that it registers various trollies being used underground several miles away. Whilst the local yokels noticed nothing.