When it comes to fracking, not knowing very much about it I have tended to sit on the fence, but some headlines across the Sunday papers today piqued my interest.
So what I learned (abridged version):
- Fracking involves pumping copious amount, including sand and un-named chemicals down a drill hole 2 to 4 km down and then 3 km horizontal. Apparently the composition is a ‘trade secret’ but is thought to contain carcinogenic substances and hydrochloric acid.
- The drill hole is lined with a steel liner and then outer filled with concrete
- Gases released include methane and could include Radon
- The ‘flowback water’ is contaminated and needs treating. It is stored uncovered in U.S, covered in UK.
- Fracking sites are noisy places, and also have truck movement to and from site.
- In the U.S there are over half a million natural fracking wells.
- In the UK more than 100 licenses have been issued.
- There is apparently 1300 trillion cubic feet of gas available of which we use 2.5 trillion a year (520 years supply)
- Fracking may cause earthquakes if dormant faults are disturbed
- Fracking goes through the water table so contamination a possibility if drill holes not secure.
I then compared fracking with natural gas as we know it at present. Apparently this too has methane and radon association. As you can see from diagram though, it doesn’t involve going quite so deep.
What piqued my interest?
Articles in Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and The Sun regarding a decision shortly to be announced by Theresa May to give households money from the profits of fracking, rather than communities as was previously suggested.
The Mail references the West Sussex village of Balcombe and suggests what they could get (13k per household) even though the fracking company concerned, Cuadrilla withdrew from fracking there in 2014. Interestingly (and ironically) the residents of Balcombe started a solar farm project instead, which then had to be scrapped due to the Government policy changes (Solar farm in Balcombe ‘fracking village’ shelved due to Tory policies).
So what is this ‘sweetner’ of up to £10k, or more depending on which article you read, actually supposed to achieve?
Is it a bribe, or an inconvenience payment? (I do subscribe to the fact that there is no free ride and that you aren’t given money for free).
As for me, I can see why 520 years of gas supply would be a huge carrot, but what is the long term impact on the environment and the earth beneath our feet and at what cost?
The cynic in me wants to know why the fracking companies won’t tell us what is in the ‘slickwater’ that is pumped into the hole, rather than being a trade secret. I guess i’m still on that fence, but the splinters are beginning to hurt…
for references here are some of the articles from today: