A few facts on fracking
IN his letter of August 29, Mr Calder, who says he lives in Maesbury, refers to my enthusiasm for fracking with the comment "you couldn't make it up".
Well, he has done just that. Fracking would not poison the moat and springs. Since he does not appear to be acquainted with the facts, I will enlighten him.
Wells were first hydraulically stimulated in the 1940s, so a standard tool in a driller's toolbox for a long time. Geologists including those advising the Environment Agency, state that for contamination of water supplies to occur, fracture would have to extend through the several feet of rock that separate the deep hydrocarbon deposits from the freshwater aquifers. This would be like stacking a dozen separate bricks on top of one another and expecting a crack in the bottom brick to spread all the way to the one at the top. This might explain why the number of aquifers contaminated by fracking in America, where hundreds of thousands of such operations have been carried out, is zero.
Boreholes for shale gas extraction are commonly drilled down to over 2,000 metres, and thus thousands of metres below aquifers or reservoirs. The risk of water contamination is negligible. The main chemicals are surfactants found in most soaps and detergents and viscosifiers, typically guar gum or used in food products, also salts and citric acid. Waste fluids now must be stored in double lined steel tanks.
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Opponents of shale gas also cite news reports of methane leaking through the water supply whereby in some cases in America people have been able to ignite water from bathroom taps. Again, this is nothing whatsoever to do with fracking. The phenomenon was first observed in 1932, decades before shale gas was ever thought of. It is a natural occurrence in parts of the U.S where methane gas has saturated the rock strata and entered the aquifer.
Shale gas emits only about half the CO2 that burning coal produces. Carbon emissions in America per head are now below 1963 levels. Gas is at almost give away prices, boosting jobs and prosperity. Here, because of the enormous subsidies for wind turbines, passed straight down the line to consumers, electricity and gas bills have soared.
Incredibly, the Greens and their fellow travellers argue that shale gas rigs – the drilling industry is adaptable and can and will work in constrained conditions – will destroy our landscape, while in the same breath supporting the construction of thousands of wind turbines in some of our most stunning countryside producing unreliable and intermittent trickles of electricity, while mention of a new nuclear plant – which brings hysterical opposition from Greens who think the next Fukushima-style tsunami is about to hit the UK – would work at 90 per cent efficiency producing electricity day in and day out for the next 80 to 100 years.
As for earthquakes, coal operations have been causing barely noticeable tremors for many years. Those caused by fracking will be no more severe than the passing of an HGV.
If we are to solve our energy crisis we must exploit our massive reserves of shale gas which would help reduce our dependency on expensive imported gas. With an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas deposits discovered in Lancashire alone, enough to power Britain for 65 years, we could be looking at the biggest energy find since North Sea oil. Fossil fuels will not disappear. Our countryside is being ruined in vain.