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To frack or not to frack? That is the question.

(27 Posts)
papaoscar Mon 13-Jan-14 19:39:17

I'm not sure about all this fracking business. However, I will pleased to review it when they have fracked away under Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Eton, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge and the Cameron estates. What do you think?

thatbags Mon 13-Jan-14 20:14:24

Fracking has been going on in the UK since the 1950s. It's only recently some people have started objecting to it.

FlicketyB Tue 14-Jan-14 09:54:04

They are welcome to come and frack in my back yard any time they like. As thatbags says it is a technique that has been being used in the oil industry for decades - and in this country onshore also. The Wytch Farm oilfield in Dorset and another in Lincolnshire, whose name eludes me, have been using fracking for some time without any of the damaging side effects prophesied by activists.

papaoscar Tue 14-Jan-14 13:43:06

Honourable members tb & FB: many thanks for your guidance re fracking about which I know very little, except for memories of the sight of the terrible damage that 'hydraulic mining' did in the USA in the old days, using very high-pressure water and chemicals, on a vast scale, to get at precious metals. The environmental and social damage done was so catastrophic that the technique was banned.

I hate to think that the introduction of subterranean on-shore hydraulic mining in the UK (especially in urban situations) will produce similar if not worse consequences. I just don't know and remain to be convinced - my ears are ready to be bent further on this subject if you wish!

PS: I think I read somewhere that the existing UK on-shore oil and gas fields are very small and have been very well conducted and policed so as to minimise environmental damage, so they are probably not representative of the massive new fracking industry about to be thrust upon us. Time will tell!

Aka Tue 14-Jan-14 13:58:22

Time will indeed tell, by which time it will be our children's and grandchildren's problem so should we care? Obviously not shock

FlicketyB Tue 14-Jan-14 15:15:13

Papaoscar, Fracking is an entirely different technique to hydraulic mining.

Hydraulic mining, uses high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material on the surface and to wash it down through sluices to extract the metal or ore. It washes away large areas of land and produces an almost equal amount of sediment at the surface, which has to be dumped elsewhere.

Fracking takes place thousands of feet underground and consists of fracturing the rock so that oil and gas percolate through it more freely. All the rock remains in place, nothing is moved and nothing, other than oil and/or gas reaches the surface. Except for a small area where the plant and well heads are the surface landscape remains unchanged.

Fracking has been used extensively offshore UK in the North Sea and elsewhere.

thatbags Tue 14-Jan-14 15:18:17

You might find this article by C.S. Prakash interesting, oscar.

thatbags Tue 14-Jan-14 15:19:35

Oh, sorry, it is by michael Lynch. I came to it via a tweet by Prakash.

Nelliemoser Tue 14-Jan-14 23:48:05

There is a heck of a lot of scare mongering about the effects of fracking.

I live in near a former mining area. The nearest pit was about 2 miles south. Two miles to the north there was brine extraction. There are a lot of very small earthquakes due to settlement they may register on seismometers but they are insignificant.

I have seen an advert suggesting there could be damage to the countryside from fracking.
Most of the old mine workings here have been very well landscaped and left as good amenity sites. Even a former quite recent open cast site has been very well restored and you would not know that it had ever been worked. Apart from place names like Talke Pits, Golden hill, and Silverdale which tend to give the game away.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 08:56:38

There is a lack of scientific data from fracking companies which needs to be addressed. We cannot know what is 'scaremongering' and what is genuinely of concern unless such data is in the public Omani. Communities seeking reliable information about fracking often run into barriers:

Most companies do not disclose complete information about the chemicals used in fracking, claiming that this data is proprietary and its disclosure could hurt their business.
Companies have restricted access for scientists conducting research that is crucial for understanding the impacts of fracking.
Since lawsuits brought by citizens affected by fracking usually end in non-disclosure agreements, data used as evidence in these cases is unavailable to the public or to scientists.
To remove such obstacles, companies should be required to collect and publicly disclose three kinds of data:

* Baseline studies of air, water, and soil quality before drilling begins;
* Monitoring studies during and after extraction activities;
* The chemical composition, volume, and concentration of the chemicals used in their operations.

Such concrete data will enable scientists to quantify risk, empower citizens with reliable information, and help hold polluters accountable.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 08:58:01

in the public Omani the public domain...

berdie Wed 15-Jan-14 09:09:06

There has been a lot of weeping and wailing, about Fracking over the last few days. Can we not be forward thinking, and at least try this method of gas extraction, to see if it works?. When Calder Hall was opened, we were all going to suffer from nuclear Armageddon, and yet nuclear power has kept the lights on safely all these years. Wind, Wave, and Solar power are good ways of generating energy, but they are not going to solve the problem. We need to investigate all avenue's first before saying this or that will not work.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 09:11:54

Did you actually read my post berdie?

berdie Wed 15-Jan-14 09:23:55

Aka, yes I did read it, what I am saying is we must try all methods first, under strict supervision, and then if it doesn't work, stop and look for another way. We need to keep the

Anniebach Wed 15-Jan-14 09:29:40

I fully agree with Aka, too much information withheld , if withheld then why, most certainly not in our interests

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 10:09:36

The point is berdie there is NOT 'strict supervision' and like Anniebach I wonder why certain information is being withheld even from the scientific community.

berdie Wed 15-Jan-14 10:22:49

Aka Point taken, make it part of the drilling licence, that this information is forthcoming, or you don't drill.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 10:44:59


papaoscar Wed 15-Jan-14 17:26:11

Good to read your differing views on this subject, friends, but I am still not sure. However, I am sure that massive public relations pressure will soon be unleashed on the British public, egged on by grasping politicians desperate to tap into any new source of the energy we all so urgently need, due to the complete lack of strategic power planning by previous governments. Shame on the lot of them!

I gather that the frackers, who will no doubt be huge anonymous corporations based on Mars, intend to frack under heavily populated areas after they have slipped a few coppers into local and national begging bowls, as it were. If it all works, fine, but I remain to be assured that the technique is safe.

After all, much water, chemicals and power will have to be put in, and the oil, gas and residues coming out will have to to be processed and disposed off, with all the associated industrial mess, upheaval and noise. This will inevitably result in a spider's web of new pipes, power lines, chemical and storage facilities and dumps, etc., etc., all conducted in the midst of, under and over, our urban situations. I've seen pictures of some appalling US fracking sites, mainly in remote country areas. Bear in mind that our American friends are not known for their environmental care in their own country, so why should they be concerned about ours?

But there will be loadsa jobs and profits, no doubt, but at what cost? I do hope it does not all end in disaster. Before this starts we need the reassurance of a good, sensible, independent enquiry. Bet we don't get it!

FlicketyB Wed 15-Jan-14 18:59:48

Aka I do not know where you get your information from but in this country nearly everything you speak of is routinely required to obtain a drilling license and the Environment Agency and Health and Safety have very strict regulations about the use of chemicals and environmental monitoring. Fracking has been taking place in the UK onshore and offshore for over 20 years and if there was any environmental danger this would have become evident by now.

I represent a national environmental group on the Local liaison Committee of a local power station and I know from my experience there just how tight environmental and HSE legislation is and how strong the monitoring on the ground is. There is no reason to think it will not be exactly the same for fracking.

paposcar I think the Armageddon you prophecy is somewhat over reaching. The companies involved in fracking are all the usual well-known companies including, Shell, BP, British Gas and, as announced this week, the French company, Total. All well-known companies.

The proportion of chemicals used in hydraulic fracking is a very small percentage of the total water used and the water can be cleaned and recycled back into rivers and streams. The oil 'residues' will be no different to those now produced from oil from ordinary oil wells and like those will be dealt with at existing refineries. There is an over supply of refinery capacity at the moment so new facilities will not be necessary.

Gas doesn't produce residues, it just gets chemicals put in it to give it a smell and goes into the pipelines. The chemicals used for the odour have been in use since the 1960s when we moved from smelly coal gas to odourless methane.

There will not be 'a spider's web of new pipes,a power lines, chemical and storage facilities and dumps'. There already are comprehensive oil and gas pipeline grids in this country, which are more than capable of handling the production although short spur pipelines may be needed to link fields to them. If you want to know the landscape effects of these new onshore oil and gas fields, make a trip to Dorset and try and find Wytch Farm oilfield. And what are the power lines for, we are talking oil and gas not electricity.

Any American companies operating in the UK will have to meet UK environmental and HSE standards and they will be thoroughly monitored. As has been happening in the UK with American oil companies for decades in the North Sea and other UK oil provinces.

The best enquiry is the evidence of many decades of the use of this technology in this country on and offshore without harm to either land, sea or individuals.

POGS Wed 15-Jan-14 20:16:36


Very interesting and informative post. Thank you.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 20:39:58

Flickety if you can find any of the following relating to fracking

* Baseline studies of air, water, and soil quality before drilling begins;
* Monitoring studies during and after extraction activities;
* The chemical composition, volume, and concentration of the chemicals used in their operations.

I'd be delighted if you could share this information with us...

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 21:07:53

In this country or elsewhere.

Here are a list of the actual companies exploring onshore fracking in the UK. It doesn't bear out your list of companies Flickety

Celtique Energie
Rathlin Energy
Cuadrilla Resources
Europa Oil
Egdon Resources
Igas Plc
Magellan Petroleum
Third Energy

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 21:16:57

fracking companies

Of course Cuadrilla is the big player.

FlicketyB Wed 15-Jan-14 23:15:09

All the big companies have been and are using fracking technology in the North Sea and existing onshore oil fields and have done for decades. You do not include Total on your list and their name has been in the papers and broadcast media in the last week, British Gas owns a quarter of Cuadrilla, Shell as well These all found after the most cursory internet search.Most of these companies with names unknown to the general public have bigger companies with finance behind them. It is how the industry works. It is why news items always talk about the X company operated oilfield because while, whoever operates it will hold a share of ownership the ownership of the field may be spread between 5 or 6 companies, big and small.

The information you mention will be in the drilling application so known to HSE and the Environment Agency. Cuadrilla has published details of its fracking fluids

I can see no reason why studies should be done of air, water and soil quality before and after fracking other in the immediate vicinity of the well, where both HSE and the Environment Agency will be monitoring these matters anyway.