Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t JoNova; Britain has 200 trillion cubic feet of frackable gas in Lancashire. But the climate obsessed British Government would rather pay sky high prices to Russia, than develop available domestic resources.
How Britain’s fracking industry was regulated into irrelevance
13 February 2022, 5:00pm
This week the fracking company Cuadrilla announced that it was permanently closing its two shale mines in Lancashire, after the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) declared that shale gas companies must seal up the wells they had drilled and return the land to nature.
It is, on the face of it, a very strange step to take at this time. The wells have not been producing any gas for some years, of course, ever since environmentalists launched their scare campaign against the industry. It was a campaign that was astonishing in its brazenness. Tiny earth tremors recorded near the wells, of a scale that is entirely normal in, say, the mining industry or in geothermal energy developments were rebranded by activists ‘earthquakes’. The chemicals used – all licensed as entirely safe by the Environment Agency – were declared to be dangerous poisons. In one particularly egregious case, householders were given leaflets which claimed that the gas companies were going to use industrial quantities of a known carcinogen called ‘silicon dioxide’. That’s sand, in common parlance.
This being the case, how can we explain the decision to seal the wells up? In fact, it makes sense if you take a look at the OGA’s remit. In this extraordinary document, you will find no mention of any duty to ensure that operators aren’t cutting corners. There is nothing about making sure that they deliver for consumers, nor even anything about national energy security (another issue of pressing urgency, given Mr Putin’s machinations). Instead, the role that government has given it revolves entirely around delivering Net Zero. Put bluntly, the OGA is more about closing the industry down than regulating it.
When the price cap on domestic energy bills is lifted in a few weeks’ time, there is likely to be a great deal of anger. If people learn that the government’s political cowardice has been making things worse, a major political backlash is on the cards.
Fracking likely does cause small 1.5 Richter Earth tremors – too small to notice. I defy anyone genuinely notice an Earthquake below 2-3 on the Richter scale without sensitive instruments. The only Earthquake I ever personally noticed was a 5.4. At the time I didn’t even realise it was an Earthquake – for a few seconds it was like the wind suddenly picked up, all the trees started rustling. Then it stopped. I’ve been in other Earthquakes, but that was my only experience of noticing something unusual when the event occurred.
The Richter scale is logarithmic. Each whole number on the scale is 31.7x stronger than the previous whole number. The 5.4 I barely noticed was 700,000 times stronger than the 1.5 Earthquakes environmentalists claim are a problem.
A lot of Britons think embracing Net Zero is the right course. But even if you think gas is a short term stopgap, surely it makes more sense to allow British domestic resources to be exploited until they are no longer needed, rather than feeding money into President Putin’s Ukrainian peacekeeping budget.