Thursday, November 20, 2014

Into the unknown

How to overcome local objections to the risk of unhealthy pollution? Promise to make them millionaires and that is exactly what tax-evading, union-busting INEOS has done.

Ineos has never drilled wells before, but believes it can be successful because it has hired three experienced executives from the US shale boom. Ineos said wells had successfully been bored next to schools, churches and even close to the centre of large cities such as Fort Worth, Texas. “It is possible to drill wells in densely populated areas, but we don’t think that is necessary,” said Gary Haywood, the chief executive of Ineos UK.

Scientists from the UK Energy Research Centre told the BBC that promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were lacking in evidence. “It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever, it’s hype,” said Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director.

Simon Clydesdale, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said investment was essential to transform the UK energy system, but not “giant speculative bets” on unproven and risky resources. He added: “Ineos have jumped on a spin-powered bandwagon which is going nowhere. Independent academics recently called out government ministers over the ludicrous levels of hype around shale gas, saying ‘shale gas has been completely oversold’. It seems that Ineos have based their business plan on breathless PR brochures rather than scientific reports.”

The British Geological Survey has estimated that the Lowland valley in Scotland could contain about 80tn cubic feet of gas and 6tn barrels of oil. But it said: “The relatively complex geology and limited amount of good-quality constraining data result in a higher degree of uncertainty to resource estimation than in England.” BGS said Scotland’s shale reserves were modest compared with England’s.

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