Britain wins the Lottery


The recent report from the British Geological Survey at Keyworth in Nottinghamshire on the extent of shale gas potential in the UK suggests that the Bowland Shale formation in the Northwest could be as big as the enormous Marcellus field in the USA.   On these figures, and taking account of other potential UK gas fields, it is quite possible that we have more shale gas resources than any other country in the world.

I have said before that the UK’s shale gas is equivalent to the North Sea Oil all over again.  On these estimates, it could be even bigger.  So much for the “peak fossil fuels” theory.  We seem to have gas not just for decades, but probably for centuries.  The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones: it ended when we developed better technologies.  We can say the same of fossil fuels.  They will end not because they run out, but because we develop better technologies (nuclear fusion springs to mind).

The difference shale gas will make to the UK economy will be vast.  Make no mistake: Britain is in a deep financial hole.  Osborne’s plan to reduce the deficit (that’s the annual overspend, not the National Debt) seems to be stalling.  It’s stuck at around £120 billion a year.  When interest rates go up — as they surely will — we could find ourselves effectively bust, in a debt spiral, and going cap-in-hand to the IMF, as we did under Denis Healey.  But gas on the BGS scale could be our ace-in-the-hole.  Our get-out-of-jail-card.  It’s that important.

I’ve had people on Twitter saying “Yes, but unlike the Americans, we’ll sell it abroad at global prices, so we won’t see the benefit”; or even “Probably the French will benefit from it” — presumably an irrelevant folk-memory of French involvement in our water utilities and nuclear plans.

So let’s say it loud and clear: if we sell it abroad, or if we use it at home, the benefits for our country will be immense.  Qatar and Saudi Arabia sell oil and gas abroad, and it’s made them rich.  It will be a massive boost to UK GDP, to our balance of payments, and to the Treasury.  This means jobs and growth and prosperity.  And when Ofgem is telling us the lights may go out, shale gas will ensure they stay on.  This almost certainly means lower energy costs, fewer pensioners in fuel poverty, fewer investors driven abroad by high energy prices, lower unemployment, jobs for our young people.

Let me say here that I sympathise with those groups of protesters who object to fracking on their doorstep — not least because I’ve been campaigning for years against wind turbines.  But I think the anti-fracking groups have been misled.  There are essentially two interest groups spreading misinformation on fracking.  First, “green” groups, who hate capitalism and industry and prosperity, and who need good scare stories to generate donations and income.  And then, foreign gas producers, who’d rather we bought expensive Russian gas than used indigenous British gas.

So let’s be clear on safety: fracking has been used for decades in the US, and in Germany, without serious problems.  Fracking is much safer, say, than coal mining.  In my East Midlands region we had coal mining in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and there was great regret when the mines closed.  We now have a new energy extraction technology which can generate new jobs in these areas, but much more cleanly and safely, and without condemning miners to years underground, and to debilitating lung diseases.

Fracking may cause minor earth tremors — but so did coal mining, and so does hydro.  The Greens complain that fracking involves drilling down through aquifers and injecting liquid under pressure — but so does geo-thermal, which they advocate.  The Greens claim to be concerned about CO2 emissions, yet they ignore the fact that shale gas in the US has led to big emissions reductions, as gas displaces coal.  If they followed their own logic, they would be demanding gas and nuclear.  But they’re not big on logic.

In the energy debate, gas is mostly regarded as a fuel for energy generation, so it may come as a surprise to find that more gas is used in the UK directly for heating, industrial processes and cooking than for electricity generation.  Moreover gas is an essential feedstock for our chemicals industry — currently under threat from high energy costs.  Ethane goes into polyethylene, and into just about everything made of plastic.  I understand that Ineos, one of our largest chemical companies, is importing ethane from the US.  They (and we) will be better off with local supplies.

So I say to the protesters, with great respect, please think about it again.  Think of the very low risks.  Think of the very limited local impact and visual intrusion (the drilling kit is in place for only a few weeks, and the well-head is no more intrusive than a garden shed).  Think of the dramatic benefits to our economy. Think of our energy security in an uncertain world. Consider how the government is going to fund your pensions.  Think of your grandchildren and their job prospects.  Then talk to developers about positive ways to minimise local impacts and to ensure benefits for local residents, rather than opposing schemes outright.  Your country desperately needs the gas, and the energy, and all the economic benefits it will bring.

Britain is like a small businessman who has just gone bust for £100,000 — and then wins a million in the Lottery.  This is the biggest and best economic news for Britain for decades.  So as Maggie once said, “Rejoice.  Rejoice.  Rejoice”.

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11 Responses to Britain wins the Lottery

  1. B Hough says:

    There will be those who worry about our drinking water being polluted due to fracking, remember we get our water from lakes created by rainfall, also earthquakes, the U.S. have been fracking for years, they are now self sufficient in gas & oil. Don`t let the French and the rest of Europe hold us to ransom on power, let`s be independent for a change. Can we have some scientific unbiased comments please?

  2. The warmist Tyndall Centre has admitted that low carbon technologies won’t work on their own and are now calling for a 60% cut in energy use in the next decade.

    60%!! If we allow these ecotards to get their way, we’ll all be heading back to the dark ages.

    Let’s get fracking and forget about windmills.

  3. Neil craig says:

    I don’t think fusion is needed except possible to power interstellar craft.
    Current fission technology can provide us with very cheap power for billions of years (add thorium and that is quintupled, should the planet last so long).

    The real problem is the political Luddism which prevents us using the tech we have. They say they support fusion only because it isn’t available. If it became so they would suddenly (as with shale) look for reasons to ban it too.

  4. B Hough says:

    Sometimes I wonder who`se side our politicians are on ! Why do they even think of being dependent on Europeaqn countries for Coal, Gas, Electricity, a postal service, wind farms etc. etc.
    T%hey will not even wonder why the top three users of wind farms are having flooding problems.
    No.3 India– No.2 China—No.1 USA

  5. ex Expat Colin says:

    There appears to be a fairly logical piece in the Finance pages of the D. Telegraph here:

    “Forget a quick shale gas revolution here– we don’t have the technology”

    I have seen/heard some of that before and which is not the noisy alarmist output usually flung about in the press/BBC etc. UK and USA is not as comparable as might be thought on first view. It might be interesting to see a UK related risk analysis at some point but likely that would not be publicly accessible ?

    I’d guess the BGS might have to sign up to something here on the way to any large scale fracking. On the way…..and far away maybe?

    Is there not anything available to us under our off shore zones. The North Sea looks as its going to get stuffed with CO2 at some point, so could rule that out ?

    CO2 seems to get in your face at every turn.

    UKIP lost council seat in Worcestershire (Stourport) last week on election re-run. Turn out was around 20%. Kidderminster re run on 1st Aug, just hope that people can be bothered ?

    • neilfutureboy says:

      We have drilling rigs and experienced handlers (ever heard of the north sea). Per capita the UK has a better science base than the USA. The fact that the US has already done it & moreover brought about half of all their capacity online in 12 months makes it technologically easier to do it elsewhere. The only thing stopping us doing so (& thus having cheap power and thus getting out of recession) is our parasitic Luddite political class and the only thing that will shift them is UKIP.

      • ex Expat Colin says:

        I’ll just say related Safety Case(s) and what/when informs such documents. Without that adequately informed/signed off, and particularly when, will not get any drilling/fracking on shore quickly. I know that gives the DECC and related time to generate tricky policy/regs. Don’t need Brussels though. Its the way it works in any safety related industry…and for good reasons.

        It would be beneficial to everyone to be able to map the evidence from one zone to another and accept easily. However, the USA/UK operation in this context are not identical and only the uninformed would accept that they are on first sight.

        Saying that causes me regret. However, if I find UK fracked gas in my over complicated/expensive green boiler (Prescott you p….) in the next 10 years I’ll eat my lawn…or know a man a can.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Precisely Colin. These cases are not technological problems they are regulatory ones 100% controlled by the state. Technologically we could, like the US, ramp up an awful lot of gas within a year if the government were to cut through the crap and make bringing the mothballed gas plants commercial by not telling them to close down when it is windy.

        If it takes 10 years it will be because UKIP does not have significant power for 9 years. The confidence allowing shale development would give means we could be out of recession in weeks, possibly days, if our ruling cartel wanted it.

        Also greatly reduce the unnecessary 30,000 fuel poverty deaths annually which is more than 100 times any good “safety” regulations do.

  6. Paul Latham says:

    The present coalition government has dragged it’s feet for the past two years over the development of the natural gas contained in the shale deposits beneath much of the North of England.

    When interviewed yesterday by Andrew Neil on BBC TV ‘Sunday Politics Show’, Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, denied that a delay had taken place so as to allow the ‘green lobby’ to raise objections to ‘fracking’.

    The efficient extraction of natural gas is vital to the economic revival and well-being of Britain. A drop in gas prices must surely follow, as they have in Canada and the USA. Spot prices for gas on the wholesale market in North America, were one-fifth of those in Europe when I last checked them out

    What is the government doing to ensure that the European fuel price speculators do not gain control again of these recently discovered natural resources?

  7. Jane Davies says:

    Lottery win? Who will benefit? With any of the “big” three in power the ordinary citizen will not benefit, that’s for sure. The EU will want a huge chunk of the pie and the only way Joe Bloggs will reap anything from this is to get out of the EU and have the right politicians in power. Not the greedy self serving career politicians we have now and last time. Will UKIP do the right thing? For the sake of a once great country I really hope so.

  8. IAN PAYNE says:

    It will be the lottery if we can do it and use it. But remain a dream if we can’t !

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