Ukraine crisis makes the case for shale

Gazprom pipes gas via Ukraine

Gazprom pipes gas via Ukraine

The on-going and fast-moving crisis in Ukraine has huge ramifications, not only for the long-suffering people of the Ukraine, but also for European economies and energy prices.  Gas price futures have already spiked by 10% or so over fears for future developments.  Meantime the Russian stock market, and the rouble, have taken a hit.  The economic impact may well be considerable.

Perhaps Russia will succeed in occupying and pacifying the Ukraine, which will be a huge embarrassment to the West.  No one in Europe or America seriously thinks we should fight a new Crimean War.  Economic Sanctions against Russia would be hugely damaging to both Russia and the West, and are probably not practical.  Both Russia and the EU benefit enormously from the trade in Russian gas.  Russia supplies around 30% of Europe’s gas demand, with some half of that coming through Ukraine.  The UK gets little Russian gas directly, but any loss of gas to the EU as a whole would clearly impact on our supplies from elsewhere.

Fortunately we’ve had a warmish winter, and it’s nearly Spring, so immediate pressure on supplies is not too severe.  Several European countries (though not the UK) have built new gas storage, in large part to anticipate supply problems and reduce the immediacy of their dependence on Russia.

If the situation deteriorates, and a shooting war commences, the impact could be very serious indeed, both for prices and for security of supply.  In the UK, we have created a situation where over the next decade or so, gas is the only generating capacity we can build in the time-scale to keep the lights on.  We’re locked-in, at a time when one of Europe’s major gas suppliers seems to be on the brink of war.

This sudden crisis perfectly illustrates the problems that arise from over-dependence on expensive and politically unstable sources for our energy.  I understand that some UKIP members have reservations over our support for shale gas in the UK – people can’t help but be alarmed by the sort of mendacious propaganda being put out by green lobby groups (many funded by the European Commission with our money).  If you share these concerns, please see the movie “Fracknation” with rebuts the Greenies’ case point-by-point. 

But shale gas can do more than bring jobs and prosperity.  More than bringing balance of payments benefits and tax income for the Treasury to help support schools and hospitals.  More than offering the prospect of lower energy prices.  It can keep the lights on, and the wheels of industry turning.  It can offer peace of mind and security of supply.  And with a conflagration threatened in the Ukraine, that is a vital consideration.

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18 Responses to Ukraine crisis makes the case for shale

  1. neilfutureboy says:

    Good points. I strongly disapprove of the way the US/EU have poured at least the admitted US $5bn into funding rioters in Ukraine and overthrowing the democratically elected government. This loos like a potential rerun of the assistance we gave to genocidal (ex-)Nazis, gangsters and organleggers across in Yugoslavia. We are destroying the country and if we have to pay higher fuel bills it will be nothing in comparison to what Ukrainians of all persuasions may suffer.

    Nonetheless this is further proof that when our government cuts our basic infrastructure to the bone we automatically become extremely vulnerable to outside shocks. The prime duty of our government is to maintain order & to allow industry to make us better off – it is not their duty to foment disorder and disaster abroad.

  2. grumpydenier says:

    Exactly. But will Europe and the UK, in particular, grasp the nettle?

  3. Gordon Richards says:

    The Ukraine problem shows just how insane the EU green agenda energy policy is. Is shuting coal fire power stations wise when Russia can turn off the gas at will.? The Con Lib Lab successive energy policy’s or lack of !? have left the UK at it’s most vulnerable since 1943 they should start building coal power station immediately and make freaking part of national security energy policy. Hopefully the drop in the Russian Ruple may make Putin stop and think a while.But should are power security be dependent on the HOPE of whether Putin decides to flex his muscles or not . This EU all powerful continent in the world as one!!? With a green energy policy that makes it a cowering bunch of sheep to Russians Putin and his low CO2 gas except for the French who have mostly nuclear (first time but respect to the French)
    I think the only way to get out of this mess is to get out of Europe and that means voting UKIP

  4. silverminer says:

    I agree shale gas should be exploited in a safe manner. The industry is it’s own worst enemy though. The main arguments against fracking is that ground water may become contaminated with the fracking fluid, right (small risk but possible) and that we’re using up scarce fresh water supplies (less of a problem in the UK)? Well, there is a company in North America, Gasfrac, which is using propane as the fracking fluid (Google it). It is injected into the well in liquid form and turns back into a gas underground and comes back out with the natural gas to be collected and re-used. We’ve got a surplus of propane coming out of the North Sea. This is the perfect solution. No doubt it’s a bit more expensive, but if you can neutralise the protests with a technical solution that addresses their main concerns, then why not do it? Do you know about this, Roger?

    • neilfutureboy says:

      “but if you can neutralise the protests with a technical solution that addresses their main concerns, then why not do it?”

      The problem is that nobody has ever neutralised the protests of ecofascists by paying a bit more to placate them – the nuclear industry has spent trillions doing this, the GM industry put in endless controls etc etc – none of them ended protests, quite the reverse. All you get is them saying there must be something to their complaints or the industry wouldn’t have done something.

      • silverminer says:

        They, meaning the environmentalists, aren’t always wrong, though, Neil. I wouldn’t eat GM food if you paid me and no-one would grow it unless Monsanto etc got a pass from governments preventing them from being sued for cross contamination. Likewise, who would build a PWR unless government limited the liability of the operator in the event of an accident? You can achieve higher yields per acre through permaculture and the mob stocking methods employed by Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm than will ever be achieved through GMO, which doesn’t address the key problem which is soil depletion. Even a GMO crop won’t grow in bedrock. Nuclear power can be done safely, with full commercial liability for the operator, using thorium fueled molten salt reactors, which operate at atmospheric pressure (a step change in safety). By giving corporations free passes on the potential harmful side effects of their operations we retard innovation and development of better solutions. If the fracking industry wants to use hydraulic fracturing methods then they should go for it but in full commercial liability for their actions. My only concern is that there should not be any kind of stitch up deal between the operators and the government giving a them a free pass if they contaminate an aquifer etc. Gasfrac claim their process is superior, BTW, so it may not cost more in any case.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        You make my point.

        Nuclear power is by any objective measure hundreds of times safer than other power sources and if the LNT hypothesis is wrong (it has zero supporting evidence and a lot against) then hundreds of thousands of times. Yet 98% of the cost of nuclear electricity is unnecessary regulatory parasitism. Despite all that the Luddites aren’t placated and even use the cost of nuclear power they created as an argument.

        As I have said before if thorium ever became usable the Luddites would turn against it as they did with fracking, coming up with who knows what spurious scares.

        In that line may I point out that nobody has ever found any actual damage caused to anybody by GM foods, which has not placated the Luddites – indeed their argument against GM boils down to they don’t know of any way it is harmful, or any such mechanism but who knows, at some indeterminate point in the future it is not provably impossible that somebody might. Obviously such an argument is impervious to fact and those who accept it cannot ever be placated in any way.

        Attempting to placate them is “paying the danegeld” and as Kipling explained, when one does that one never gets rid of the ecofascists. We have had decades of proof of that.

        I defend your right not to eat GM food for pay, just as I would defend your right not to eat Halal or only to eat foods mentioned in the Norse sagas, should that be your pleasure, but please say why you should have the right to enforce your choice on me.

        That there are other ways of increasing food yields is completely irrelevant to the fact that GM does so. There is no law of nature that prevents them both being used in conjunction and achieving the geometrical increase that Dr Malthus said was impossible.

      • silverminer says:

        OK, so remove the, State imposed, cap on nuclear operators’ liability for accidents and remove the, State imposed, restriction on landowners suing for cross contamination from GMOs. These are an infringement of property rights. I’ll have a gentleman’s bet with you, Neil, that no more PWRs ever get built and the GMO industry would shut up shop tomorrow. The problem is, by allowing GMOs into the environment, my right, which you defend, not to eat them, is infringed since there is no way of stopping cross contamination with non-GMO crops.

        You can use GMOs and artificial fertilisers etc to produce crops with calories but diminishing amounts of essential minerals until you hit bed rock, them we’ll all starve. Ultimately, the soil is the basis of agricultural production and unless we re-engineer the food system to re-build soil depth, structure, mineral content and fertility we eventually run up against a wall which science can’t get us over. This guy gets it: –

      • neilfutureboy says:

        i’ll take that bet. After all you can’t or won’t deny that factually nuclear is between hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times safer than other methods of producing power so there can be no possible reason for believing that the so much safer one would be more difficult to insure.

        Unless you have evidence.

        As for GM in the environment – I guess that has to be a matter of balancing people’s rights. Yes DNA does get around the country and if you are going to say that the release of any single molecule of DNA, out of hundreds of billions in any sizable body, anywhere near you gives you a right to ban the stuff (also to launch an all out nuclear war on China where they produce hundreds of millions of tons of the stuff) then you must also be willing to kill yourself and burn the body to prevent any molecule of your DNA hitting the atmosphere in my direction if I say I am offended by having to breath in air breathed by Luddites.

        Lets have a gentleman’s bet – I don’t think you believe a single word you say about rights when it comes to yourself. Lets see.

      • silverminer says:

        Pressurised Water Reactors are inherently dangerous things, the clue being in the first word. They can only be made safe with multiple fail safe systems and then when all these, very rarely, fail we get a major disaster. I’m not anti-nuclear, Neil, we’re just using really poor legacy technology and State support for the status quo means we don’t move to the next generation technologies which are inherently safe because they work at atmospheric pressure and don’t require these very expensive systems. Why is the liability cap in place if it isn’t necessary?

        With GMOs, I use my common sense, which is usually a good basis for making decisions! Occasionally, two different but similar species breed with each other (like a lion and a tiger, or a horse and donkey) but their offspring is sterile. Have you considered that there might be a good reason, in evolutionary terms, why this might be so? Splicing DNA from other species, like insects, into plants (they’ll get onto doing it to animals before long as well) which we then eat could have serious health implications which cannot be predicted and there is already indicative evidence for this (e.g. BT toxins). They are essentially conducting a live experiment on us and I don’t want my family to be guinea pigs for this completely unnecessary and irresponsible behaviour. Monsanto etc need to be held in full commercial liability for their actions, not protected by legislation. If we need more food then, like I’ve said, there are safe ways which are proven to work with nothing but positive consequences and I’ll continue to support those.

        Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean by your last sentence so you’ll have to elaborate if you want a response.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        High buildings are inherently dangerous things, the clue being in the first word, but we have learned to build them safely. You still cannot dispute that nuclear is 100s-100,000s of times safer than competitors.

        I suspect, from the 2nd part of your answer that I know rather more about evolutionary biology than you though I wouldn’t claim expertise. Your answer boils down to “God stopped species interbreeding so it must be because there is something dangerous about it” which is nonsense and only goes to support my point that there is no evidence whatsoever of GM doing harm and that that, in no way, placates opponents who increasingly rely on arguments that can have no evidential basis and cannot ever be placated by either reason or danegeld.

        I am not sure what part of “if you are going to say that the release of any single molecule of DNA …. then you must also be willing to kill yourself and burn the body to prevent any molecule of your DNA hitting the atmosphere in my direction if I say I am offended by having to breath in air breathed by Luddites.

        Lets have a gentleman’s bet – I don’t think you believe a single word you say about rights when it comes to yourself. Lets see.” is beyond comprehension by a literate person. Please advise.

    • Maureen Gannon says:

      Well I didnt so thank you for info.

  5. Thomas Fox says:

    The Bowland Shale rock is much thicker in seam than USA we have salt mine storage in North Cheshire and Fleetwood Lancs also we have coal gas in abundance throughout the UK but not the political will exploit it all . Problem too much Green ideology.

  6. The wasp says:

    If the Greens had been around when the wheel was invented they would have opposed it.

  7. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Here’s a plan…we lend Ukraine £1Bn and get cheap gas and paid back at a higher interest rate than we borrowed it. You know… like S. Ireland

  8. DICK R says:

    The ecolunatics should be ignored with or without any needless panic about the events in the Ukraine.
    Shale gas should be extracted whatever the environmental consequences, if it causes a bit of muck and slight mining subsidence, so what, we can live with that ,what is more is more important is a good source of cheap energy for industry, it may even give us the opportunity to rebuild our manufacturing base.

  9. ukip2win says:

    As the EU has generously offered to hand over 15 billion euros aid to the Ukraine I as a UK taxpayer would love to find out exactly how much we are expected to stump up as our contribution towards this vast sum.

    I understand they asked for over double that sum so is this just the 1st installment?

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