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Monday, 27 February 2012

Interesting bristol exploration club on the case...

An Interim Report on Hydraulic Fracturing – Fracking
By Phillip Romford BSc (Hons), MSc (Petroleum Geochemistry)
A proposal has been made to conduct drilling and coring to investigate what may be suitable
geological formations for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to be conducted in the Mendip Hills
region. The intention of this report is to describe the technology, science and chemistry, and
to explain the possible problems that may be encountered; such as earthquakes caused by the
fracturing process, groundwater contamination and shale gas contamination of domestic
water supplies, and the release of green-house gases (GHG). It will also be reasonable to
make mention of the benefits that shale and/or coal gas extracted in the region may bring. The
evidence presented here may be used to determine whether there is any risk of degradation to
our cave environments.
All information and data presented in this report were taken only from reliable sources that
are expert in this subject who do not enter into citing ‘hear say’, or from organisations who
may distort the data for their own vested interests, whether this be industry or protesters. The
information provided here, is for the readers to digest and then to be used to form their own

(14 pages omitted by me)

Shale & Coal Gas Report Bristol Exploration Club 3rd December 2011
9 Conclusions
Given that no permissions have yet been applied for it is not possible to draw firm
conclusions. However, from the investigations conducted so far, the indications are that the
proposals and planning applications will most likely be into source rocks that bear the highest
reserves of extractable gas. This suggests that operations will be in the areas that have already
been mined for coal. It would seem illogical to conduct operations in poor source rocks with
low TOC and consequent low gas evolution.
Of primary importance for the objectives of this document is this observation: the evidence
suggests that it would appear to be unlikely that drilling operations, either investigative or for
gas extraction, would be considered for the area containing the Mendip caves. Further to this;
analysis of drilled cores could suggest that hydraulic fracturing may not be required for
successful gas extraction.
The British Geological Survey have estimated that the UK may have only about 1.5 years of
gas supply at the current level of demand; this may be raised, according to an operator in
Lancashire. This does beg this question: would extraction of gas in the Mendip Hills region
be a viable proposition, given that the resource area is very small? (references 2 &3)
Finally, this report is not considered complete until all facts are known about localities,
applications, and operations that may be allowed to take place.
Hydraulic Fracturing . Version 1.0 13 November
Shale & Coal Gas Report Bristol Exploration Club 3rd December 2011
10 References:
1. resources/081111_90_day_report.pdf
90 Day Report. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, shale and gas sub-committee.
Department of Energy & Climate Change. The Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources
of Britains Onshore Basins – Coal Bed Methane
Department of Energy & Climate Change. The Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources
of Britains Onshore Basins -Shale Gas
Disclosure-PH-1.jpg Cuadrilla Resources, table of fluid constituents.
5. micro seismic information
6. cuadrilla_report.pdf Dr. C.J. de Pater and Dr. S. Baisch. Geomechanical Study of
Bowland Shale Seismicity. November 2001.
7. information on earthquakes.
8. map depicting relinquished licence.
INTCMP=SRCH Prof A Aplin comment. The Guardian.2 November 2011
10. Methane contamination of drinking water –
a letter. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
11. Methane contamination of
drinking water – a letter. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
12. The Environment
Agency, information on regulation.
13. The Environment Protection Agency, USA Hydraulic Fracturing
14. Listings of fluid compositions for many wells.
15. Methane contamination of drinking
water – Osborn et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Other references of interest:
• Dept. of Energy & Climate Change : Oil & Gas general information
• PBU UK Ltd . Directional drilling
• bgs_mpfoilgas.pdf information ; Onshore Oil and Gas.
• tyndallcentre_shale_gas_report.pdf Shale gas: a provisional assessment of
• climate change and environmental impacts. Wood, Gilbert, Sharmina &
• epa_study_plan.pdf Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing
on Drinking Water Resources.January 2011
• Natural England

Thursday, 23 February 2012


Letter received yesterday from Colin Skellet, chairman of Wessex Water:

" Wessex water shares your concerns about the possible impact of fracking on water supplies. There have been concerns that either the fluids used in the fracking process or the resulting gas could contaminate water supplies.

In general we look to the environment agency, in liason with planning authorities to ensure proper control of fracking. If there were any specific proposals, we would object to the development. "

He also states that Bristol Water are responsible for the supply in our area so has forwarded my letter to them!

Nothing from the Environment Agency yet?

Fracking in Kent

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

energy security

I realise some of these things are a heavy read...... but thought id' share anyway. The cornerhouse have been a great place for me over the years in climate books, publications and research off teh far end of radical.

"Energy Security For Whom? For What?"

Energy is never far from the headlines these days. Conflicts of all kinds -- political, economic, social, military -- seem to be proliferating over oil, coal, gas, nuclear and biomass.

While some interests struggle to keep cheap fossil fuels circulating worldwide, a growing number of communities are resisting their extraction and use.

While an increasingly urbanised populace experiences fuel poverty and many people in rural areas have no access whatsoever to electricity, large commercial enterprises enjoy subsidised supplies.

As increasingly globalised manufacturing and transport systems spew out ever more carbon dioxide, environmentalists warn that the current era of profligate use of coal, oil and gas is a historical anomaly that has to come to an end as soon as possible, and that neither nuclear energy, agrofuels or renewables (even supposing they could be delivered in an environmentally sustainable and safe manner) will ever constitute effective substitutes for them.

For progressive activists, all this raises an unavoidable yet unresolved
question: how to keep fossil fuels and uranium in the ground and agrofuels off the land in a way that does not inflict suffering on millions?

Mainstream policy responses to these issues are largely framed in terms of "energy security", with a focus on "securing" new and continued supplies of oil, coal and gas, building nuclear plants, and translating renewables into a massive export system.

Far from making energy supplies more secure, however, such policies are triggering a cascade of new insecurities for millions of people -- whether as a result of the everyday violence that frequently accompanies the development of frontier oil and gas reserves, or because the pursuit of "energy security" through market-based policies denies many people access to the energy produced.

Indeed, the more that the term "energy security" is invoked, the less clear it is just what is being "secured" as a range of different interest groups use it to signify many often contradictory goals. The multiple meanings of "energy security" are an obstacle to clear thinking and good policymaking. They are also an open invitation for deception and demagoguery, making it easy for politicians and their advisers to use fear to push regressive, militaristic social and environmental programmes.

Just as problematic, in fact, are the words "energy" and "security", both of which have become detached and abstracted from their everyday meaning.

This new report, "Energy Security For Whom? For What?", considers the pitfalls of "energy security", both as policy and as rhetoric. Its four

* explore the abstract and historical concept of energy reflected in physics, which ignores the different types of political struggle connected with each energy source;

* describe the wave of new energy enclosures justified by "energy security" that are creating new scarcities and insecurities as people are dispossessed of energy, food, water, land and other necessities of life;

* outline how the neoliberal market-driven approach to energy and climate policy strengthens energy exclusions, while the financialisation of energy and climate creates energy shortages and delays effective climate action; and

* summarise the violence that accompanies the everyday "normal"
operation of fossil-fuelled industrialism that is entrenched within the "securitisation of everything".

"Energy Security For Whom? For What?"

Monday, 20 February 2012

Not quite Fracking.... but I felt there was enough overlap to let you know about this...... only incase anyone is in London, or knows anyone who mght be interested....... Not exactly "caring for mother earth"

Report Launch: ‘Opening Pandora's Box’
A New Wave of Land Grabbing for Mining and its Devastating Global Impacts
Presented by The Gaia Foundation in collaboration with GRAIN,
The London Mining Network and the UK Food Group
Wednesday 29th February 2012
3:00pm – 4:30pm
Panel discussion followed by Q&A
Committee Room 10, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group (APPCCG)
Please enter by St. Stephen’s Gate, and allow about 15 minutes to pass through security. RSVP to Neha Sethi at
the APPCCG Secretariat on or call 0207 833 6035
Alternatively, if you’d like to meet the panellists and discuss the report in a more informal setting with a glass of wine, come to our public event in Hampstead that evening…
Wednesday 29th February 2012
6:30pm – 9:00pm
6:30pm – 7:30pm food & wine at 18 Well Walk, Hampstead, NW3 1LD
7:30pm – 9:00pm talk and Q&A at Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, NW3 1LT
£12 full price, £8 concessions, includes food & wine
Book online or call 0207 428 0054 to reserve a place
A dangerous convergence of trends is leading to unprecedented rates of growth and scale in mining across the
planet. There has been a relentless increase in demand for products since 2002 as a result of population
increase, higher standards of living in so-called “new economies”, and a wasteful economic model built around a
throwaway ‘upgrade’ culture in new technologies. The 2008 economic collapse and a rush to invest in tangibles
such as metals and minerals, has pushed up prices, providing further incentive for exploitation into new territories
and deposits.
Meanwhile, more sophisticated extractive technologies - which use huge amounts of energy, water and toxic
chemicals - have led to fracking, tar sands, deep offshore drilling and mountain top removal. As pristine
ecosystems, new depths of land and sea, protected areas such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and even the
UK Home Counties, become targets for the extractive industry; we are no longer dealing with isolated pockets of
destruction and pollution.
The 2012 report Opening Pandora’s Box, reveals how a new wave of global land grabbing by the extractive
industries is devastating ecosystems, stripping communities of their options for food and water security, and
driving climate change.
The following panelists will be speaking at both events:
• Henk Hobbelink, Coordinator, GRAIN International
• Liz Hosken, Director, The Gaia Foundation
• Richard Solly, Coordinator, the London Mining Network
Deborah Doane, Director of the World Development Movement, members of the UK Food Group will also be
speaking at Westminster. Philippe Sibaud, Author of the report, will be joining the panelists in Hampstead

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Piece on BBC Radio Somerset Breakfast show...

If anyone wants to listen to the interview I did on the radio at 7am yesterday, here's the link, which will be live for the next week:
The interview kicks off about 8mins in to the show, and begins with a guy from Methane UK speaking...
Not at my brightest first thing, but hopefully it's raised more awareness etc.... :0)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

General position of UK water industry re: shale gas extraction

I got a very promt reply from Bristol water, who say they are aware of the implications of shale gas extraction, but expect the Environemtn agency tand local authorities to contact them at an early stage of a planning application for drilling. Though not however statutory consultees, they feel they should be!!
They sent me the follwoing, which can also be found on the 'Water UK' website. Alex

POLICY POSITION – Risks to water supplies posed by gas shale
There has been much publicity recently over the potential reserves of shale gas in the UK.
Whilst this is still in exploratory stages in the UK the technique used for extraction of shale
gas (known as “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing) has been associated with risks to drinking
water sources in the US. Trial extractions have taken place in deposits in the Fylde in
Lancashire but the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) report shows
potential development sites across large parts of England and Wales.
There is a mixed evidence base on the magnitude of the risks involved but nonetheless there
is some acceptance that they do exist. Although water companies would not wish to hinder
economic development there is a view that the risks to water supplies (and in particular
drinking water supplies) need to be addressed.
The primary risk of concern to water companies is that associated with contamination of the
drinking water aquifers that overlie shale gas reserves as a result of the “fracking” process
allowing gases, such as methane, to permeate into drinking water sources from previously
confined rocks.
This is associated with the design and construction of the boreholes sunk to allow shale gas
extraction. In the UK, the design and construction of shale gas extraction boreholes is
assessed by the HSE through specific regulatory controls, which among other things require
verification of the design by an independent third party (DECC, 2011).
In addition contamination caused by chemicals used in the process entering the drinking
water aquifer either via fractures caused by the process or potentially by existing pathways
should also be considered a risk.
In addition there are a number of indirect risks associated with shale gas extraction that
· Discharge of contaminated effluents recovered from the “fracking” process to surface
drains, sewers or the environment.
· Damage to assets associated with any ensuing seismic activity that could cause
damage to water mains and sewerage infrastructure.
Regulatory framework
There is already a regulatory framework in place before shale gas extraction can commence
in the UK. A UK petroleum exploration and development licence (PEDL) is required along
with drilling consents and planning permission. The EA (or SEPA in Scotland) and the HSE
are consulted on environmental risk and safety risks respectively but the details on what goes
into these risk assessments are not fully understood by Water UK at this present time.
Under current planning arrangements inclusion of water companies in the process is not
required but, as has been demonstrated in recent trial sites, such liaison can provide helpful
information to both the water company (in terms of updating risk assessments for their
Drinking Water Safety Plans) and to the gas extractor.

Proposals for change
Water UK would urge government to consider the introduction of legislation to ensure that
water undertakers in the UK are statutory consultees, in addition to the environmental
agencies, on proposed shale gas extraction sites and that the protection of drinking water
sources is considered within this framework as a priority.
There should also be full disclosure of the chemical composition of the fluids used during the
extraction process on a site-specific basis so that the water industry can consider risks to
drinking water sources.
Finally, more visibility of the safety measures being put in place from the planning stage to
mitigate against any risks identified that may either directly contaminate drinking water
aquifers or indirectly provide pathways for contaminants that already exist in the
environment. Consideration should be given to the wider potential safety issues rather than
just the borehole design risk, for example, whether seismic activity associated with the shale
gas extraction could damage utility infrastructure.
European context
Water UK also endorses the European Commission’s intention to produce common European
standards for the exploitation of shale gas provided that any technical extraction frameworks
are supported by appropriate environmental standards that pay due attention to protection of
drinking water.
In addition the Water Framework Directive and its daughter directive for groundwater
provides for Water Protection Zones (WPZs). These provide a regulatory mechanism by
which Member States can address the potential for any pollution or hydro-morphological
damage, which could include any caused as a result of “fracking”.
Jim Marshall
Business and Policy Adviser
Water UK
Version 1 - Final – 21 November 2011

Friday, 17 February 2012

Fuller version of exchange with Bristol Water rep. Jeremy Williams

Dear Jeremy
I thought people may be interested in seeing the other exchanges with Jeremy Williams. I am struck by the fact that the buck is very definitely being passed on to the Environment Agency. If Bristol Water have seen the same evidence we have, why are they reserving judgment?

Thanks for your prompt reply.

I think we may be in the process of forming a concerned group in Frome.

I believe there is already a mountain of evidence, particularly in America, of the very serious problems connected with this process. Given that your company is in the business of supplying drinking water to households I just wondered whether anyone within your organisation has been charged with carrying out any research on the matter. I would have thought it was in your interests to do so.

If you want any help with sources I would be happy to do what I can. I have contacted my local councillor, Alvin Horsfall, who is decidedly against tracking and I'm sure would also be glad to help.

Jeremy Williams
11 Feb (6 days ago)
to me, Corporate

Dear Dave

Thanks again. We already have a fund of knowledge about the subject --both our Environment Manager and Resources Manager are monitoring the issue.

We would certainly be aware of any effect on our sources or the quality of water we supply. However, I stress that it is not our role to protect the catchment itself from environmental pollution - that's for the EA.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

useful addresses

Environment Agency - North Wessex Area Office
Rivers House
East Quay
Somerset                TA6 4YS

Bristol Water plc
PO Box 218
Bridgwater Road
BS99 7AU

(Colin Skellet is CEO of Wessex Water)
Wessex Water
Claverton Down

Somerset County Council
County Hall

response from Bristol Water

"Thanks for your e mail. We are aware of fracking, its potential implications and suggestions that the Mendips might be involved.

As yet, though, we have seen no applications for permission being submitted to the relevant planning or environmental authorities.

We would want much more information on what might be proposed before forming a view on fracking, as the whole subject is shrouded in claim and counter claim. We would expect expert advice from the Environment Agency and other government bodies.

It is of course the EA who have the statutory duty to protect the water catchment from environmental damage.

The best way of keeping yourself informed is probably to join one of the many groups interested in this subject; I believe there is one in Frome, for example."

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


about 25 people sat down after the frack-off presentation (wesley church, 10th Feb) discussed what could be done and came up with the following:
  • We can't wait for the Environment Agency to take a lead.
  • individual letters are more effective than emails and petitions. (though these definately have their place)
  • if WATER forms the basis of our arguments against fracking, it's difficult for people to argue for it.
  • We would all write to (at least): Somerset county council, Wessex and Bristol Water and The Environment Agency asking them what strategy they have come up with on Hydraulic Fracturing. 
We want to enter into dialogue with these people, not conflict, but ask them politely for a reply.

Outcome of meeting with " members of Frack Off" last Friday

3 members of the anti-fracking group "Frack off" came to Frome on the 10th of February to trial their presentation and help Frome form its response the issues raised.
See their wonderfully resourced website for LOTS of detail, and also useful little films to speak to the 'harder to persuade' folk we might know.
THIS blog is for Frome anti-frackers to collate their findings and to share responses to letters we might have sent.