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Fracking hell – let’s stop the puns

Fracking hell – let’s stop the puns

🕔13.Aug 2013

Fracking is a gift for the media, a real gem. The very word just screams out to be published. Other associated technical phrases are “horizontal penetration”, “seismic pumping” and “dikes”. Indeed there are a host of such terms that would keep a couple of naughty school boys laughing their socks off for weeks. Don’t think journalists and editors are immune from that level of humour either. The evidence is in abundance and growing. Consider Battlestar Galactia (both series), fracking is used as a substitute for another word, a bit like Father Ted’s “fricking”, get the idea?

Aside from the puerile humour, the very subject can fill countless columns and air time. The arguments and disagreements are legendary. Innumerable scientific studies prove and satisfy every side of the conundrum. YouTube is abound with people setting fire to tap water contaminated with methane gas from fracking. To counter this, the fracking companies peddle their professional polished productions.

I’ve just never felt that Birmingham would be drawn into the fracking argument. No doubt it could produce employment for many of our citizens and indeed produce a number of protestors. Yet recently there has been a mini explosion of fracking activity right here in the grand metropolis.

Slaney St, a local and well put together blog site, added to the rich flow of fracking warnings. This alongside the Birmingham Mail reporting protestors outside fracking company, Cuadrilla’s head office in Lichfield. They are concerned that the very boarders of Birmingham could become fracking heaven. Now veteran and very able Brummie MP Roger Godsiff has also announced his worries over fracking in a letter outlining his concerns to Minister Nick Boles.

Yet the only argument that anyone really listens to is the economic one. In the USA the economics look very good. In 2012 shale gas from fracking made up 34% of the total US production. This was made possible from advanced drilling technologies.

Does it comfort Roger and his constituents to know that fracking has been in operation since the late 1940’s? In the last few years oil companies have made massive extraction advances with deep drilling technologies.

Simply drill down 12,000 feet or more into shale then stop and continue horizontally. Into that inject at high pressure mixture of chemicals, sand and water. This creates small fractures in the surrounding rock and out pops the gas and or oil.

Presumably Roger is concerned not for his immediate constituency but for the greater good of the nation. The US seems generally at ease, but after seventy odd years they have got used to the idea. Indeed during that period the US environment has held up very well.

Yet to give Roger and his constituents more comfort Professor Edward Hirs, of the University of Houston, has studied the benefits to the US industry from fracking. Last year he estimated that the USA gained from lower natural gas prices to the tune of $100 billion. What weight will Roger and the “green” combatants have when energy and petrol prices start to fall? Will the “green” supporters and Roger’s constituents support economic prosperity over social deprivation?

Fracking is certainly looking very good for the US and estimates making the UK look impressive as well. Trial drilling around Blackpool demonstrated reserves equivalent to the massive Venezuelan fields. Can we ignore the environmental arguments here; did we not have an earthquake in Blackpool from fracking? Yes according to “experts”, yet it was only a very tiny one and very unlikely to reoccur. In the whole history of fracking this is very much an exception. It was so small in fact that the same sensation could be felt standing close to a heavy lorry going over a pot hole.

My money is on the frackers with the green environmentalists losing out on financial grounds. As the saying goes Roger…..always follow the money.

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