Shale Gas (fracking)

On Thursday 31st June, I attended a presentation given by Ed Hough of the British Geological Society at the University of Manchester.  As well as giving an insight into the the geology behind shale gas and its history.   When was introduced, the person doing the introduction made reference to another lecturer who dismissed what had been reported in the media as being absolute rubbish.  Which did cause a few titters amongst some of the audience.  

He did give the reasons why companies and some governments are keen to pursue the exploitation of this resource.  The UK is expected by 2020 to import 80% of its fuel from overseas.  That 40% of primary energy is derived from gas.  That the UK has very little storage capacity, together leading to a supply gap.  He did mention the fluctuation of gas prices, but made no reference to the future markets and commodity traders causing these large variations in price.  He emphasised that the UK was sitting on a potential 20 trillion Cubic Feet of shale gas. 

There was a list of all the companies interested in shale gas extraction in the UK.  And a chart was produced showing the amount of fluid used and it which was produced from a report from the GWPC.  The chart showing the amount of fluids used, is courtesy of the EPA.  

Ed Hough, try to play down the amount of chemicals used as of being a small percentage of the amount of total fluids used, 3,000,000 gallons.  But it is not the percentages you should be looking at the actual amount in gallons used.  For example, Hydrochloric Acid which is a highly corrosive liquid, amounts to 3,690 gallons.  These fluids are injecting in at a rate of approximately 45 gallons per minute over the initial drilling and fracking process.  Ed Houghs, like All Consultancy:

try to play-down the toxic and environmental damaging aspects of these chemicals by stating they are used in domestic processes.  Would you drink a thimble of Ethylene Glycol, an anti-freeze which is highly toxic?  He also went on to dismiss other concerns reported in the media, groundwater contamination by methane and other pollutants, methane escaping to air, correct treatment of waste water, contamination of water courses, radioactive waste (gamma rays) and earthquakes.  That in well maintained and sealed wells most of these issues are improbable or very unlikely.  Like the, Fukushima or Deep Water Horizon

I think Ed Houghs gave himself away when he said he was working with these companies and did say, ‘we’, a few times.  Nothing was said of Global Warming or Climate Change as Marc Hudson of Manchester Climate Monthly pointed out to Ed Houghs, during question time.  As Lawrence said after the presentation, geologists are there to find resources for companies to exploit. 

Figure 6 depicts a horizontal well, which is composed of both vertical and horizontal legs. The depth and length of the well varies with the location and properties of the gas-containing formation. In unconventional cases, the well can extend more than a mile below the ground surface.