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Geologists Say UK Shale Deposits Hold Vast Energy Reserves

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the well-we've-got-to-heat-an-awful-lot-of-tea dept.

Earth 241

fishmike writes with this news snipped from a Reuters story: "Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers, energy experts now believe, and while production costs are still very high, new U.S. technology should eventually make reserves commercially viable. UK offshore reserves of shale gas could exceed one thousand trillion cubic feet (tcf), compared to current rates of UK gas consumption of 3.5 tcf a year, or five times the latest estimate of onshore shale gas of 200 trillion cubic feet."

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First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768881)

First

Woot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768885)

Second post!!!

Let the Fracking Begin! (2, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#39768887)

After all, the Thames estuary can't be hurt by a few anthropogenic earthquakes, [wired.com] now? Can it?

Bigger Problems Than That (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#39768959)

After all, the Thames estuary can't be hurt by a few anthropogenic earthquakes, [wired.com] now? Can it?

I'd be far more worried about the water laced with sand and chemicals that is shot down into the Earth to release this gas from the shale. They can't leave it down there for fear of it seeping into the water table and when they suck it up, what do they do with it? And in some US states, it appears that when people think they are affected by it the company responsible doesn't have to tell them what their area was exposed to [latimes.com] . It's well known that it contaminates water supply [npr.org] but greed can overpower any environmental problems. Luckily we should be able to watch Pennsylvania screw up their own water and hopefully other states will take a different approach.

I wonder how many laws and regulations UKELA will let slide in order for England to "catapult into the top ranks of global producers."

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (5, Informative)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#39769083)

They can't leave it down there for fear of it seeping into the water table and when they suck it up, what do they do with it?

Given that it is pumped into oil/gas-carrying rock, it will not seep into the water table. If it could, the oil or gas would be long gone. The problem is that you must pump some of it out to get acces to the oil or gas, and even if it was pure water you pumped down, the water coming up has been in contact with oil and is not clean. With horizontal drilling, you end up with quite a lot of dirty water, and no good way to get rid of it. Another problem is the casing of the pipes going down. It seems to be hard to make sure it is done properly, and if it isn't, you risk the pipe breaking and the fracking fluid running out. As the pipes are necessarily drilled through the aquifer, this is clearly problematic.

We have established it in one case with quite a special geologic profile (the fracking happened much closer to the surface than normal). That is a far cry from it being an established, general problem. It is cause for concern, especially for shallow fracking, but I think the two problems I mentioned first are more acute.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769103)

Given that it is pumped into oil/gas-carrying rock, it will not seep into the water table. If it could, the oil or gas would be long gone.

Hydraulic fracturing. That oil/gas-carrying rock is fractured in the process. You will state that there is no chance this is released upward or will ultimate find its way upward?

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (4, Interesting)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#39769183)

Through kilometers of rock that has held gas for millenia? While "no chance" is extreme, I would say that there are far more relevant concerns with regards to fracking.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (2, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#39769255)

Through 7 kilometers (4 miles) of rock that's resistant enough to breaking that we drill around it? Through strata that tend to separate horizontally, rather than vertically? There is a chance, but it's roughly the same as the chance that politicians will ever actually talk about the realistic problems with fracking (waste disposal, mostly) rather than the fearmongering (contamination, "peak energy") that's effectively unsupported by any scientific studies.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769265)

Given that it is pumped into oil/gas-carrying rock, it will not seep into the water table.

While gas (CH4: molecular weight 16, gaseous) is lighter than water (H2O: molecular weight 18, liquid), I'm pretty sure that the chemicals they use will be heavier than water. That is, gas would try to go upwards, while the chemicals would try to go downwards. So if the way up is closed but the way down isn't, the gas will be kept there but the chemicals won't.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769097)

I wonder how many laws and regulations UKELA will let slide in order for England to "catapult into the top ranks of global producers."

As many as it takes.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769361)

England isn't the UK. Most of the reserves are off the coast of Scotland.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769547)

With those arguments, coal mining would have been banned in 1724 and we would never have had the wonders of the industrial revolution.

Re:Bigger Problems Than That (5, Informative)

denzo (113290) | about 2 years ago | (#39769559)

I'd be far more worried about the water laced with sand and chemicals that is shot down into the Earth to release this gas from the shale. They can't leave it down there for fear of it seeping into the water table and when they suck it up, what do they do with it?

First, let me put out there that I Am A Frac Engineer (IAAFE), so take what I am about to say for what that's worth...

Sand (or other suitable grain material, known as "proppant") is pumped into a hydrocarbon-bearing formation to keep induced fractures propped open after frac operations have finished, so that such fractures do not close up (negating the effects of creating the fractures in the first place). Sand keeps that "highway" open from the fracture network in the formation to the wellbore, so that oil and gas can freely flow to the production tubulars and up to the surface. I assure you that the intention, by design, is to *keep* the sand in the formation, not "suck it back up".

The best frac fluid by far (for optimum oil and gas production) is plain freshwater with no additives whatsoever. However, in the real world various additives are necessary to make fracturing possible: anti-clay swelling agents (NaCl, KCl) are needed to keep clays in the formation rock from swelling up and closing up pore throats, acrylamide polymers are needed to reduce the pipe friction of water at fracturing rates so that surface pressures are minimized, surfactants are used to reduce the surface tension of the water so that the water does not block up the pores and fissures by capillary effects, guar gum is used to gel up the water so that sands don't settle out of the water too soon (causing the sand to bridge off and block flow), etc. The total concentration of chemical additives used in the frac fluid usually does not exceed 0.5% by volume, and at those concentrations are relatively benign.

Frac fluids are flowed back naturally to surface, not "sucked up". The reason they are flowed back is that, well, you can't immediately tie the well to a sales line and start selling it until the produced fluids meet a certain quality. The first fluids that flow back out are the last you put in (LIFO), so by extension the frac fluid would be the first fluids back to surface (and they aren't worth anything to any gas pipeline companies or oil refiners), so they must be stored in a tank and hauled off to wherever it goes (either disposed of in a permitted waste disposal well, or recycled for other frac jobs).

It's well known that it contaminates water supply [npr.org] but greed can overpower any environmental problems.

No, it is not a well-known fact. It is presumed in some cases, but not proven. The link you cited has many other factors that have contributed to water contamination, including the shallowness of the hydrocarbon-bearing formation, and the fact that surface retention pits were largely unregulated for a certain period of time. Surface pollution *is* well known to cause water contamination. Engineers and geologists also know that if your hydrocarbon-bearing formation is within a few hundred feet of a water table, that hydraulically-induced fractures *can* propagate into them. There are a few scientific methods [epa.gov] for measuring hydraulically-induced fracture growth, which have been utilized in every active shale play in the United States.

Re:Let the Fracking Begin! (3, Informative)

rainmouse (1784278) | about 2 years ago | (#39768997)

After all, the Thames estuary can't be hurt by a few anthropogenic earthquakes, [wired.com] now? Can it?

Considering the majority of the gas reserves are in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland it seems unlikely that London (seemingly the only city in the UK that most have heard of) will suffer any form of earth quakes, though they may well lose out if Scotland is granted their independence in 2014 when the vote comes.

Re:Let the Fracking Begin! (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#39769039)

I thought most of the fracking protests were taking place around Blackpool, so unless you have an American's knowledge of geography, you're wrong. The shale gas is all under the west coast of England in Lancashire.

So all the London politicians can rest easy, knowing any shit that happens will happen to someone else far away up north. Hopefully the nuclear reactors they also foisted on those people won't get damaged, but hey - its not in Notting Hill, so no worries.

Re:Let the Fracking Begin! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#39769055)

I know Blackpool. It was where you'd go for holiday, 'til it got cheaper to visit Greece in the 90's. :-P

Re:Let the Fracking Begin! (0)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39769321)

Actually Soctland isn't planning to use any shale gas, and in fact intends to be 100% renewable [scotland.gov.uk] by 2020. What that means is they will produce 200% of their energy requirements, half of which will be renewable. The overproduction will be exported, mostly to what remains of the UK after Scottish independence.

Scotland really doesn't need shale gas. There is plenty of demand for what fossil fuels they do have and vast untapped renewable resources (mainly wind). They will end up "oil rich" without the oil.

Re:Let the Fracking Begin! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769355)

After all, the Thames estuary can't be hurt by a few anthropogenic earthquakes, [wired.com] now? Can it?

Considering the majority of the gas reserves are in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland it seems unlikely that London (seemingly the only city in the UK that most have heard of) will suffer any form of earth quakes, though they may well lose out if Scotland is granted their independence in 2014 when the vote comes.

Nope. Two points: First, we're talking about frackable shale gas reserves, rather than conventional off-shore reserves, and the distribution of the two resources is completely different. Second, most of the North Sea gas reserves are in the southern part of the sea anyway, near England and the continent, so in the event of Scottish independence would be mostly in English territorial waters rather than Scottish (the most productive oil fields are of course between Scotland and Norway, so would go to Scotland following independence, but most gas exploration to date has been in more southerly areas).

Last (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768893)

Last

What about impact on environment (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#39768895)

Shale gas and oil is still fossil fuel, and we are still threatened by climate changes due to the increase of greenhouse gases, aren't we? Or is the Sun going to dim and save us all?

Too late about climate change (3, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#39768921)

Climate change is here and now. The Earth is already irretrievably changed from the state it was in even one hundred years ago. We must make the best of a bad situation. Greater energy efficiency would be a good way to start.

Re:Too late about climate change (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#39768935)

But we're getting better extraction efficiency instead, and only hoping that the increase in fuel costs will be enough to trigger said efficiencies. Will it?

Re:Too late about climate change (1)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#39768949)

IMO, we already have the technology, look at the new LED lights coming on the market which can save big money for everyone...unfortunately all this new technology is still horribly expensive. It needs to get cheaper, and fast. I would love to have solar panels on my roof, but its just too costly.

Re:Too late about climate change (2)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#39768995)

And that is exactly the problem, although lighting is a small part of it. Efficiency will require retooling and refurbishing most of the economy and industry. This will require not only new technology, but also enormous capital and energy expenditure and serious financial incentives.

It seems we have plenty in the way of incentives for efficient extraction provided by the oil and gas market itself already, but the incentives to save energy and resources for a better future are just not there, neither in the developed, nor in the developing world. Not until it is too late, at least.

Re:Too late about climate change (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39769287)

Efficiency will require retooling and refurbishing most of the economy and industry.

Not really, many of the big savings will come naturally as things like light bulbs and vehicles reach their end of life and are replaced. With rising energy costs replacing or upgrading other equipment is becoming the most economically sensible thing to do already.

A lot of people seem to think that green policies are focused on forcing them to change, but actually they are mostly about providing good options when change comes along. Need a new car? There are plenty of efficient models out there now.

Re:Too late about climate change (1)

denzo (113290) | about 2 years ago | (#39769659)

but the incentives to save energy and resources for a better future are just not there, neither in the developed, nor in the developing world.

Yeah, there's no incentive to buy a fuel-efficient car or energy-saving lightbulbs. Oh wait, yes there is... it's called saving money! I make a consumer-driven decision to buy a 40-highway-MPG car to commute in and CFL lightbulbs, because I like to lower my monthly bills. The higher gasoline and electricity prices become, the more I save. Pure capitalism works well good because the best decisions are made by the consumer; however, pure capitalism does not currently exist in the Free World(TM).

Cheaper lighting - more used (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769157)

I'm trying to find the study - it was written about in the Economist a few months ago.

Anyway, what the study found - going all the way back when folks moved from candles to oil - to gas - light bulbs - is that as lighting becomes cheaper and more efficient, folks use more of it thereby negating any energy savings.

Here's one contemporary LED example: go into any home center (or open up an architecture magazine or kitchen design book) and go to the kitchen design area. You will notice in the design catalogs all those LED lights underneath cabinets and tucked into places no one would ever have considered a few years ago.

Re:Cheaper lighting - more used (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39769413)

More bulbs doesn't necessarily mean more light. In fact, targeted lighting can use less energy, because you don't need to shove 150w into the main light in order to illuminate every corner well enough, if those have their own lights (that are only turned on when needed).

Re:What about impact on environment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769159)

Fossils ? You think that there has been enough biomass to create this much gas. There's a reason it's called Natural Gas, nothing to do with dead flora and fauna.

Re:What about impact on environment (1)

sleiper (1772326) | about 2 years ago | (#39769271)

Fossils ? You think that there has been enough biomass to create this much gas. There's a reason it's called Natural Gas, nothing to do with dead flora and fauna.

My detectors on the blink, so for the good of Humanity I'm going to assume that was sarcasm, just poorly implemented.

Re:What about impact on environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769351)

Fossils ? You think that there has been enough biomass to create this much gas. There's a reason it's called Natural Gas, nothing to do with dead flora and fauna.

Most natural gas was created by Conservatives venting their frustration over the evils of liberalism on Fox News. Exactly how it came to be sequestered so far underground is still unclear.

Re:What about impact on environment (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 years ago | (#39769359)

Fossils ? You think that there has been enough biomass to create this much gas.

Yes. I do think that.

There's a reason it's called Natural Gas, nothing to do with dead flora and fauna.

Plants and animals are part of what is usually referred to as "nature". Prior to life appearing on the planet, there was 1,000 times as much methane in the atmosphere than there is now. Over the last 3 billion years, life has been extracting carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it under the earth in the form of coal, oil, and methane. I think that some of the methane underground is abiotic, but most is indeed "fossil fuel".

Re:What about impact on environment (1, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#39769451)

  • Sitting in a climate controlled room and fretting about the environment using a massive global information network.
  • Shivering in a dark cave and gnawing on your aunt's shinbone while exclaiming "Me um welcome natural re-glaciation".

Choose one. And no, I am not joking, not in the slightest. Solar, wind and wave are boondoggles, spending fossil energy up front to create inefficient, (generally) unreliable generators that will pack up and die long before they pay back the energy that's gone into making and (vitally) maintaining them.

Our choices are fossil fuels, or a massive nuclear program, probably thorium, to tide us over to fusion. That's it, greenwashing the question doesn't give a realistic third option.

Re:What about impact on environment (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | about 2 years ago | (#39769647)

Except when the wind and solar powered solar and wind turbine factories start making solar and wind powered solar and wind turbine factories... and solar and wind technology improves - that is a realistic 3rd option

Re:What about impact on environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769661)

If anything, the sun is constantly expanding, and is likely to be the main cause of the end of all life on earth, simply due to higher temperatures that is going to happen even if all greenhouse gases were to disappear.

On this deal about shale oil, I've read a lot of false alarm reports about it being available in the West - all of which has turned out to be unfounded. For the foreseeable future, Islamic oil is what is going to be the prime energy source. Anyone wants to seriously change that in order to dry up the cash flow to the jihad, the way to do it is to go nuclear, with thorium. The main suppliers there are non-Islamic countries - US, Australia, Brazil and India. If these countries were to get rich selling and using thorium, they'd at least use it for the well being of their people, and unlike the OPEC guys, not for the sake of spreading Christianity/Hinduism in other places of the world (the way the Saudis and other OPEC guys do with their money.

Where is this? (1)

rich_hudds (1360617) | about 2 years ago | (#39768903)

Anyone know whether this would belong to Scotland or England should the UK break up?

Re:Where is this? (-1, Flamebait)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#39769011)

although they say the reserves cover large areas of Europe, I guess that means it's not all in a single locatable point. However, the main drilling so far has taken place in Lancashire [bbc.co.uk] so Scotland can take its wannabe-president and f**k off. They can take RBS and HBoS and their debts away too.

Re:Where is this? (0)

GigaBurglar (2465952) | about 2 years ago | (#39769099)

I'm actually losing respect for the English. I try to treat everybody the same and I don't judge - but now I am thinking that maybe the rest of the world are correct about you. It's funny how you hold contempt for us but, a self respecting nation, yet we don't have a big throbbing, stars and stripes, jammed down our gullet. Enjoy your fascist future. Independence for Scotland - vote yes Autumn 2014.

Re:Where is this? (5, Interesting)

rich_hudds (1360617) | about 2 years ago | (#39769155)

I'm English and most of my fellow countrymen are quite happy for Scotland to be independent. Think it would do both countries a lot of good to be honest.

I worked in Glasgow for a while and found everyone perfectly pleasant, whenever a Scot works in England though they seem to get all chippy and resentful for some reason.

Think maybe you're confusing the English with the much smaller bunch of Londoners who dominate our media and other elites. Speaking as a Northerner who's worked in London I can guarantee that they are just as patronising to us as they probably are to you Scots.

Re:Where is this? (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#39769215)

Think maybe you're confusing the English with the much smaller bunch of Londoners who dominate our media and other elites. Speaking as a Northerner who's worked in London I can guarantee that they are just as patronising to us as they probably are to you Scots.

I also know a number of Northerners who wish that the Scottish border would move south if Scotland got independence, as they are fed up of being governed by people who think the country stops at Watford (a couple of miles North of Greater London) and allocate spending accordingly.

Re:Northumbria will be free! (3, Funny)

HarryatRock (1494393) | about 2 years ago | (#39769301)

I live about 30 miles south of the border, and strongly believe that we should become part of Scotland until we can re-establish the kingdom of Northumbria with a king at Bamburgh. We will then demand compensation from the english for all the coal and iron they stole and take the Australian Government to court for copyright infringement by the Sydney bridge which is a blatent copy of our bridge over the Tyne.

Re:Where is this? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39769701)

Speaking as an Englishman living in Wales, I don't want to see independence for Scotland or Wales, I want to see independence for London. Without London, I think the rest of the UK would get along a lot better...

Re:Where is this? (1)

rich_hudds (1360617) | about 2 years ago | (#39769127)

The article says 'offshore shale gas' though. I know about the stuff in Lancashire, was wondering about where this was.

Re:Where is this? (4, Interesting)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | about 2 years ago | (#39769247)

I wouldn't normally respond to such nonsense, but it irks me that someone else might read this and not know the truth:

1) Alex Salmond was democratically elected by the people of Scotland. How's that Cameron working out for you?

2) HBOS is made up of Bank of Scotland (in Scotland, strangely), and Halifax Building Society (almost all in England). BoS was very profitable, one of the last great retail banks. Halifax on the other hand was massively in debt, toxic nasty debt from overextending mortgages to anyone and everyone. This is why HBOS was bought "outright" by the Lloyds Group (under HM Govt. orders), instead of breaking it up into BoS and Halifax - it would have become clear that the debt was an English one and not a Scottish one, despite the Scottish name. If Scotland had been independent, under international law, we'd have had to account for the assets in Scotland, and their debts; this would have been very little, since Halifax was never that popular in Scotland, and BoS was running a profit. England would have been saddled with massive debts.

3) RBS, bit different, since it was still a Scottish bank. However, again, most of the debt was another part of the company, in this case the Dutch investment group ABN Amro. A lot of the debt was serviced by the Netherlands government, but yah, RBS would have had to be bailed out by Scotland. Fair enough, we'd have the credit rating to support it if we were independent.

I don't mind the notion that Scotland should pay her way after independence, nor do I think we'd have a problem doing so. I do mind the idea that England somehow subsidises Scotland, given that even the somewhat-biased UK Govt. figures (google "GERS 2011") show that Scotland pays more tax per capita than the English do, and on top of that has been running a surplus for several years. Scotland has 8.4% of the UK population, and yet pays 9.4% of the tax, and is responsible for over 10% of the UK's GDP. And all of that is NOT including all the North Sea oil & gas revenues that will become Scotland's post independence. Nor does it account for any taxes raised in Scotland by companies registered in England (such as most banks, shops etc.) , a good example being Tesco's which brings in staggering quantities of money in Scotland, but pays it's tax from London, and so it not accounted for in Scottish figures. Post-independence that will obviously change, so really, when the economic figures are in, Scotland will be a lot richer and better off without having to subsidise London.

Re:Where is this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769449)

>> Alex Salmond was democratically elected by the people of Scotland. How's that Cameron working out for you?

Technically Alex Salmond was nominated for the role of First Minister of Scotland by the Members of the Scottish Parliament, who were democratically elected by the people of Scotland, and then formally appointed by HM The Queen who is bound by convention to always appoint that nominee. This is almost always going to be the leader of the majority party in that parliament.

There was never a true "Presidential" election where Alex Salmond was a candidate for the role and the Scottish people elected him.

It is an almost identical system to that by which Cameron became UK Prime Minister. In that case, The Queen is bound by convention to appoint as Prime Minister the person she believes commands the confidence of the House of Commons. This is almost always going to be the leader of the majority party in that parliament. This is why after the most recent general election there was a delay before the appointment of a Prime Minister - while coalition negtiations were ongoing it was unclear which party leader it should be.

The real democratic deficits in the UK remain the West Lothian question, the entirely first-past-the-post electoral system for the UK parliament (the Scottish system is excellent), and the current appointment system for the House of Lords. Maybe the second of those might've spared us Cameron and co.

Re:Where is this? (3, Informative)

rainmouse (1784278) | about 2 years ago | (#39769015)

Anyone know whether this would belong to Scotland or England should the UK break up?

It's a good question because despite most of the gas reserves are in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland, I've heard that England is currently laying claim to all territory off Scotland beyond 20 miles from the coast; Though as I cannot find a good citation, I cannot fully guarantee truth of this. Can anyone back this up or prove it false?

Re:Where is this? (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | about 2 years ago | (#39769075)

google "Extra-Regio Territories" - it's pretty frightening how the Scottish people have been misled by various Westminster parliaments about the value of the north sea. (presumable in an effort to prevent Scotland from becoming politically independent from the UK)

Re:Where is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769081)

Scotland won't be able to afford a military to exert it's right over anything with all the spending promises Salmond is making, on top of emulating the Celtic Tiger and cutting corporation tax.

Re:Where is this? (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | about 2 years ago | (#39769149)

the sad truth is that the former UK will no longer be able to afford a military either.

Re:Where is this? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about 2 years ago | (#39769211)

With the state of things in the UK some wonder whether it can afford the one it has now.

Re:Where is this? (3, Interesting)

ocularsinister (774024) | about 2 years ago | (#39769317)

We can't... that's why we have a half finished air craft carrier and no aircraft to put on it, at least not for the next decade.

But, hey, we've still got nuclear submarines so we can claim to be sitting at the top table.

Re:Where is this? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#39769233)

the sad truth is that the former UK will no longer be able to afford a military either.

You mean we can afford them at the moment?

Re:Where is this? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 2 years ago | (#39769491)

should the UK break up?/blockquote? Would that be by voting or fracking?

Re:Where is this? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#39769569)

England. No, I don't know where the deposits are, but that isn't exactly relevant to the de facto situation.

Dig baby dig! (1, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#39768907)

The only hope for western democracies to survive the future is to become energy independent. No longer will we need to depend on threats from Russia, or the antics of Chavez, or put up with the theatrics of Iran. Energy independence secures freedom and liberty. When it comes to shale, natural gas, even uranium, thankfully US, Canada, and other western powers have a majority share. Unfortunately, China will find they have a deficit in the near future, which is probably why they are beefing up their military.

Re:Dig baby dig! (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#39768929)

The only hope is to develop alternatives that do not require burning of precious resources for energy. Given the many irreplaceable uses that oil and gas have beyond energy, not investing enough into research of safe and plentiful alternatives seems like a much bigger folly than even tolerating Khamenei, Chavez or even Putkin.

Re:Dig baby dig! (2)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | about 2 years ago | (#39768977)

Yepp, China is currently bullying the Philippines so that they can steal oil from the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

Re:Dig baby dig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769071)

What could go wrong with China drilling in the ocean. It would make the BP disaster look like spilled oil in the driveway.

Re:Dig baby dig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769107)

Yepp, China(PRC)/Vietnam/Philippines is currently bullying Vietnam/Philippines/China(PRC) so that they can steal oil from the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

Pick whichever you like. Here is some news for you: disputes are not one sided. One can accuse another of being "wrong".
Asians! narrow-minded people, they can't even think of doing something like a European Union

Re:Dig baby dig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769235)

Oh yeah, forcing other countries to pay for your huge debt is a good idea. The EU is so successful that it isn't in danger of disintegrating anytime soon. Also, the ASEAN doesn't exist too.

The question is... (2)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 2 years ago | (#39768911)

Will we have enough oxygen to burn it all?

Well, hurry up and get it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768923)

before the sodding treehuggers shut it bloody down.

Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768927)

It is still a finite resource. Every fossil fuel used is fossil fuel not available to our ancestors. One day it will be gone. How can it not be the single focus of humanity to make a viable renewable energy source? Fix that and we fix a LOT.

Re:Irrelevant (4, Funny)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 2 years ago | (#39769003)

I don't know about you but most of my ancestors are dead and on their way to trying to become fossil fuels.

Re:Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769025)

Touche Turtle! Obviously I meant descendants although to be pedantic I should point out that it is true to say the fossil fuels will not be available to our ancestors ;-)

Re:Irrelevant (1)

HarryatRock (1494393) | about 2 years ago | (#39769315)

They were available, but our ancestors had enough sense to leave them alone.

You, too (2, Interesting)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 2 years ago | (#39768931)

Congrats! You too can have tap water that catches fire [youtube.com] .

Re:You, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39768965)

RTFA.. "offshore". So, probably not a problem for tap water.

Re:You, too (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#39769125)

Congrats! Now you, too, can watch agenda-pushing disguised as documentaries!

Re:You, too (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39769357)

Yeah, they staged the burning tapwater, and all those people who said it started happening after the fracking operations began were in on the hoax. One big conspiracy to attack safe, clean fracking technology.

Re:You, too (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#39769529)

Care to share with us how you found out about this hoax? The links I can find are either gas industry sites or youtube videos of the phenomenon. I'm accepting neither as impartial.

Fracking is here to stay. (5, Informative)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#39768981)

Get used to it. This is one of those technologies we can't afford not to exploit.

The people most enthusiastic about it are the eastern Europeans... it means freedom from Russian energy supplies. And I suspect the Israelis are looking into it rather deeply now that the Egyptians are interfering with their natural gas supply.

This technology is going to mean liberation and stability for nations... against those pros you're going to need some substantive cons.

Re:Fracking is here to stay. (2)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39769053)

You mean cons like pollution of the ground water, causing minor earthquakes, and being left with hundreds of thousands or millions of gallons of polluted material that you need to do something with?

If we spent a tenth of what we do on exploration and "extraction technology" on the development of bio-diesel crops such as cannabis and canola, we'd not only free ourselves from dependency on oil and gas reserves, we'd be using a fuel that actually consumes CO2 during it's growth phase.

Some even claim that hemp-based bio-diesel is carbon negative when you consider the full production cycle, and I'd dearly love to see that theory tested.

Re:Fracking is here to stay. (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39769057)

I like to think of bio-diesel as the most effective and practical means of storing solar energy that there is.

The ground water that is thousands of feet lower? (-1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39769677)

You mean cons like pollution of the ground water

That is a myth propagated by neatherthals such as yourself that wish to block human progress.

In no case did ground water in any of the studies you know of have elements it did not have before the fracking.

Geologically speaking, water held in the ground is VERY far removed from the level fracking is done at.

If we spent a tenth of what we do on exploration and "extraction technology" on the development of bio-diesel crops such as cannabis and canola...

We'd be living in huts and dying in heat and cold.

Also animals such as yourself would kill whole forests to have enough land to produce the energy needed from those approaches. As someone who greatly enjoys hiking, no thanks.

Britain is Back! (2)

PacRim Jim (812876) | about 2 years ago | (#39768987)

Might I suggest Britain's 21st-century slogan: Britain is back, baby!

Re:Britain is Back! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39769115)

Surely you mean Scotland? :D Are these in Scottish waters or English?

Re:Britain is Back! (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | about 2 years ago | (#39769331)

The current "find" on the Lancashire coast (in England) but it is thought that the gas shale will will extend much further (it just hasn't been properly found yet) to Northern Ireland. Only the northern part of the Irish Sea is in (what might become) Scottish waters.

Central Scotland has had oil shale mining in the 1800's near Broxburn [undiscover...land.co.uk] on the outskirts of Edinburgh. If you have been in the area, you can see huge bings at the end of Edinburgh airport's runway and by the M9 motorway - this was from the old mining activity.

Re:Britain is Back! (1)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#39769403)

The article doesn't mention exactly where these shale deposits are (although it does make a vague reference to the UKs North Sea operations). However it doesn't make any difference because Scotland is part of Britain anyway. FYI:

$GreatBritain = array('England','Scotland','Wales');

$UnitedKingdom = array($GreatBritain,'Northern Ireland');

Re:Britain is Back! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39769531)

Well, for now. If more major resources are found in Scottish waters I can definetely see the independence movement getting a big lift from it.

Reserves != recoverable (3, Insightful)

DaveyJJ (1198633) | about 2 years ago | (#39768999)

Ah, the mighty and breathless media not understanding (again) that reserves != recoverable. There's a lot of water on the planet but not much of it is actually drinkable or in a form available to drink. Furthermore, the process to remove said shale "gas" involves seismic activity and a nasty, nasty (and highly secret) brew of toxic chemicals.

Re:Reserves != recoverable (1)

Swampash (1131503) | about 2 years ago | (#39769037)

Yeah, it's like saying that because Britain lies above the Earth's iron-nickel core, Britain has enormous untapped mineral resources.

Re:Reserves != recoverable (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about 2 years ago | (#39769179)

Does fracking have to use toxic chemicals, or are those used because it's the cheapest alternative to industry?

Re:Reserves != recoverable (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#39769291)

If I understand it correctly, there are three main components of fracking fluid:
1: Water. Just the carrier, but it is by far the largest part. Under high pressure it forces open cracks in the rock.
2: Sand. It is pressed into the newly formed cracks to stop them closing when the pressure is removed.
3: Surfactants. This is where the toxic chemicals show up. It makes up a very little part of the fracking fluid, but because so much is used, the total amount can become quite large. It is used to make sure the water get into every crack.
It would seem that fracking can be done without surfactants, but it would be less efficient. Surfactants are generally not that good for the environment, so I would be sceptical as to whether sustituting the ones used today would make much of a difference.

However, there is another problem. Some of the fracking fluid comes up again when the pressure is released. This has been in contact with oil, so it is extremely dirty. What to do with this water is a big problem that can't be removed from fracking.

Not the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769043)

Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers

You mean, soon-to-be-independent Scotland has enough gas to tell you to sod off /duck

The WORLD has dodged a bullet (sort of) (4, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about 2 years ago | (#39769073)

Look I'm as concerned (and convinced) about environmental damage and global warming as anyone. But finding immense reserves of natural gas in the U.S. and now the UK can only be a good thing. It should buy us a few decades of relatively cheap, relatively low carbon producing (well at least compared to coal and oil shale) energy. If it's cheap enough (or if we aren't too cheap ourselves) we can use the energy to PULL CO2 from the atmosphere (I've heard a measly 10% increase in the cost of electricity would pay for it!).

Ok, if we insist on being idiots, we're still gonna get somewhat screwed by global warming, but hopefully we won't lose more than a few million species and displace no more than a few hundred million people (*SIGH*). The environmental damage from shale gas, while significant, is on a local level and the earthquakes are nothing to be afraid of (I'm from CA so I know earthquakes). Sorry for the low expectations but I'll take this as GOOD news.

The BEST thing about this is that we won't be supporting (as much) people who hate us and want to blow us up. (What is about this that Republicans don't understand? That SUVs = terrorists.) Also the jobs that are created will be on-shore (or just off-shore).

Price (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about 2 years ago | (#39769121)

This new source of energy may not come cheap. If you think the cost of gasoline and diesel is too expensive now, this new source of fuel may be much more expensive. As the article notes, this gas may not be worth recovering until we see "vastly higher energy costs, perhaps as high as $200 (per barrel) or more." If you can't afford to operate your car with $150/bbl oil you are even less likely to be able to be able to run it with $200/bbl equivalent natural gas. Vast reserves of recoverable methane might spur research into developing a practical methane fuel cell. If one were to be developed it could dramatically change a lot of things. I have no idea whether we'll see a practical methane fuel cell before we see practical fusion power, though.

Re:Price (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about 2 years ago | (#39769199)

Well even as early as next year decent plug-in hybrids are coming on the market with many more to come.

I'd say the concern is more bridging the central production problem until people either stop being scared of fission/they get fusion sorted/we fix the storage issue with renewables.

For the central production problem, large reserves of natural gas (even comparably hard to retrieve) would solve the issue by giving some extra time.

I don't think any of this is a good thing, because an *actual* energy crisis is what we need to spur proper innovation and reform... But it is the truth, with new reserves being found there's no real pressure to change quickly.

Re:Price (2)

hrvatska (790627) | about 2 years ago | (#39769289)

Even with more efficient vehicles I think a lot of people will find they are priced out of the personal transportation market. Either because they can't afford a new high efficiency vehicle, price a plug in Prius, or even with one of these the cost of fuel is still too high. I've recently seen some articles that describe how young people today are not as interested in owning cars as previous generations were. The high cost of ownership compared to likely earning potential was one of the reasons.

Re:Price (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about 2 years ago | (#39769683)

Well that ultimately fixes the problem as well. A lot of public transit is already on/moving to hybrid or electric.

My point was that the issue of running your car at $7/gal (or natural gas equiv.) won't be an issue if you a) don't have one, or b) have a plug-in hybrid.

Most people who do buy cars currently are *not* put off by the increased cost of the hybrid, they're put off by the increased cost of the hybrid *which doesn't save you anything*

For me, to get a Prius with an equivalent set of features (saying nothing for the fact that it's ugly as hell) it'd have cost an extra $10,000. Lets say (generously) that it saves half of my fuel (it doesn't) and you're needing to save at least $1,000 a year in fuel. Given that I only *use* $1,200 or less fuel in a year that's a problem.

If the Prius would've actually saved the extra outlay (and wasn't ungodly hideous) I'd have bought one. But I'm not going to buy an underpowered ugly POS and pay extra to do it. A Smart is closer to sanity but still a pretty stupid choice.

Re:Price (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#39769617)

Natural gas is mostly used for generating electricity and heating houses. You can get along without electricity if you have to (but you'd pay quite a bit not to have to) but in the UK, as in many other places, heating isn't really an optional thing, regardless of the cost.

Physicists say massive energy reserves in my arse (0)

Instine (963303) | about 2 years ago | (#39769141)

The fact that there is energy stored in anything is not the question we should ask. But rather is it practically stored for our safe and easy retrieval/use. The answer is no, in the case of shale, according to many, if not most.

The lament of the net importer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769201)

The UK used to be a net exporter of oil and gas, mostly because of the North Sea. Now they're a net importer. They have to do something or they will soon by on the same puppet strings that the US is when it comes to energy imports. Despite everyone going on about the risks of small earthquakes in some locations (not everywhere is suitable for triggering quakes even if you do fracking), and the usually overblown concerns about groundwater contamination (the intervals being hydraulically fractured are kilometres below the surface and not in the zones tapped for wells), what alternative are people suggesting? Pave the UK in wind turbines? People will probably oppose those even more.

Set up stringent regulations regarding drilling and fracking operations, set up thorough enforcement, and get on with building renewable supplies for the long term, because even shale gas won't last forever. It's that or be content with less energy.

I hope this doesn't mean... (2, Funny)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 years ago | (#39769223)

...that the US is going to invade us or bring about regime change!

Re:I hope this doesn't mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769345)

Not a question of whether, a question of when.

Re:I hope this doesn't mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39769741)

Regime change would be nice.

Fracking... (3, Funny)

superflippy (442879) | about 2 years ago | (#39769329)

...is actually starting to become a dirty word. Gotta love it. So say we all!

economically recoverable? (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39769771)

Is the 1000 TCF the economically recoverable portion or the total amount of gas in the ground?

It makes a big difference.

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