Posted by Jim.
It’s been some time since I read the article by Peter on Fracking, and the activity at Crawberry Hill but it has occupied my idle moments since then. I have been trying to weigh up where I stand on the subject. I am a chartered engineer who has spent time in oil transportation, exploration in the North Sea but mostly in a company that supplied gas turbine plants to industries around the World so I guess I am a bit more informed than most given the articles I have read in the technical press. A couple of years ago I also spent some time looking at designing a pump and turbine set which would be used in the fracking industry and I had to research the way they carry out fracking to make sure our product would function correctly.
Technically speaking I am confident that the industry in the UK will address the issues that most people fear from a local fracking site. During the initial drilling and and then fracking processes it is important that the companies are held to the highest standards of health and safety. Thankfully our expertise and technical standards are higher than in most other countries, and whilst I acknowledge there is no absolute guarantees to be given against accidents, the risks are of low probability of occurrence. Drilling through aquifers has been part and parcel of the oil and gas industry and has been done for tens of years across our country without any major issues. We shouldn’t allow incidents (some true and some not) in other countries with lower standards of safety to scare us off a source of gas which we so desperately need in this country. Once the wells have been fracked and production starts, the sites adopt a very low profile and you would not really notice them.
We should also not hesitate to replace coal fired power stations with gas fired power stations as shale gas is 2.3 times less polluting than coal and is even lower than imported Liquid Natural Gas that we import.
However, my supportive stance does not come from the technical whys and where fors of fracking as much as our countries arrogant stance, which says it is not OK to do it here, but its OK to do it in other countries! Let me explain before you shout at me!
I am now semi retired and I work in the NHS where I was recently involved in a discussion about recruiting nurses from abroad to satisfy our demand for health care personnel. I argued that we should not take away critical medical personnel from other countries when we have the capability to train and develop our own. Especially when it leaves the other countries in a more precarious position than we are. Underdeveloped countries are in desperate need of trained medical clinicians, and by our actions we make the situation worse. We arrogantly assume that our money somehow gives us a right to recruit from other places.
Turning back to Gas, as a country we are using more and more energy every year, we are consuming more and more gas every year. Our North Sea gas reserves are declining so now we have to import natural gas from Norway and Russia, and now LNG from Qatar and other Gulf States at vast expense.
Shouldn’t we be a) reducing our use of energy in substantial steps, and b) maximise the use of our own resources? We should not be plundering other countries natural resources when we could make better use of our own! If we need to use fracking to get to it, then fine by me.