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The Guardian Makes Yet Another Attack on Fracking, This Time at Home

Green Bank - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW



The Guardian, a UK newspaper, has long opposed fracking in its reporting, making a victim of Vera Scroggins, for example, but now it’s trashing it at home.

The Guardian is, probably, the UK’s most well-known newspaper outside of that country and certainly here in the US where we’ve become quite accustomed to its biased reporting on fracking. Who can forget how Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg once crowned Vera Scroggins with heroine victim status? She later relented a bit, but the die was cast and the Guardian used Christmas day to launch another attack on fracking at home, which is spectacularly bad manners given the mind-boggling potential of the UK’s Bowland Shale.


The Guardian’s London offices in the King’s Place building

Our friend, Nick Grealy, of London Local Energy and Not Hot Air (a/k/a Reimagine Gas, has long extolled the sheer size of the Bowland Shale resource and what it might do for the UK. Not so long ago, he noted “The Three Great Advantages of UK Shale Gas,” for example (emphasis added):

  • The geological setting of the UK shows underground resources in excess of the Marcellus, as evinced by the huge thicknesses of the Bowland Shale in Lancashire (5000+ feet) and Yorkshire (rumoured to be a mere 3,000 feet). The average thickness of shales in the sweetest spots of the Marcellus is rarely over 300 feet.
  • The UK has the shortest mid-stream, as measured by drill bit to burner tip, of any world oil and gas province. Infrastructure is abundant, nearby and empty. Pipelines  serve a market of thirty million consumers who have no realistic alternative to home heat and hot water – as even proponents of keep it in the ground concede.
  • The downstream market is 68 BCM, 38 from declining UK offshore,13 from LNG imports, the rest from the also soon to be declining Norwegian and Dutch offshore. The UK NBP price today is $5 MMBTU, exactly double Henry Hub right now, with at least a $2 basis structurally permanent. The European forward market is also higher during the winter peak, with December over $5.50 today

Those are pretty compelling arguments for the UK to develop its shale, if you ask me, but, of course, the ever politically correct Guardian has zero interest in asking me and not much more in asking Nick, who actually knows the facts. Those facts wouldn’t serve the narrative, after all. Instead, they came out with this bit of fake news, which might have been written by some high schooler:

The UK’s shale gas industry is in a race against time to establish itself before climate change regulations shut it down. As its stands, the frackers are off the pace.

With no wells yet tested for gas flow, the industry does not yet know if large-scale production is possible or what the cost of the gas will be, and it won’t know until 2020 at best. Protests and planning problems have delayed exploration, but the real difficulty is the UK’s legally binding carbon targets.

These essentially rule out gas burning both in power stations and home heating by 2030, unless large-scale carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) is up and running to bury the emissions. Given the lack of progress on CCS to date, that seems a long shot…

However, a limited amount of gas might still be used and, with the North Sea fields fast running down, fracked gas from the UK could offset the need for imports. Replacing liquefied natural gas (LNG) would help trim carbon emissions – the energy needed to compress LNG makes it a higher carbon fuel.

But international pipelines provide reliable supplies, that might well be cheaper than fracked gas. Even a recent “perfect storm” of pipeline problems in the North Sea, Norway and Austria only produced a brief price spike, with a “negligible effect on bills,” according to the government…

Since Theresa May become prime minister in 2016, shale gas has increasingly faded into the background of government policy, outshone by the dramatically falling costs of renewable energy…

The UK’s shale gas industry remains in the running to be an energy provider at some level over the next decade. But any more slips and it will arrive at the finish line to find all the prizes have already been handed out.

It’s surely no coincidence the Guardian chose to attack fracking just before we learn what comes out of hydraulic fracturing those Lancashire gas wells. It’s an obvious attempt to preempt what will be incredibly great news for the UK and dampen it before it arrives, creating skepticism and doubt with respect to the undeniable fact the UK has all the gas it needs for the foreseeable future, without using ours. Notwithstanding my desire to ship gas Marcellus gas to the UK (though the Brits seem to prefer Russian gas from the frozen Yamal LNG facility) it makes no sense, for any nation that can do so, not to develop its own.


Russia’s Yamal LGN facility from which Brits are now getting LNG

Those LNG shipments, though, serve to illustrate the absurdity of those “legally binding targets” the Guardian supposes are reality. The idea “targets” (“something that you are trying to do or achieve” by dictionary definition) are somehow legally binding illustrates the Guardian can’t even master the King’s English, let along his economics. They are either legally binding commitments or targets, not both, but the use of “targets” is a confession they will eventually have to yield to reality, which means developing a natural resource too big to ignore.

The Guardian is promoting renewables without considering either this reality or the cost of its own solution. Notice it only says renewable energy costs are dramatically falling but never mentions how much, how they compare to natural gas or the humongous subsidies involved. Notice, too, the Guardian would rather depend on “international pipelines” (the Ruskies) than its own gas or our LNG. What’s with that? Have has the Guardian no interest in its own energy security?  They should, as the relatively new building where they’re now located has achieved all kinds of accolades for sustainability and uses natural gas for heat.

They’ll continue to be able to use that gas, of course, because those “legally binding targets” apparently only require power stations and homes to stop using gas, not newspaper offices. What’s good for the goose doesn’t apply to the gander in the British Empire I guess. Still,they’ll need a supply and, unless the Guardian aims to merge with Pravda, it wouldn’t seem to make sense to prefer Putin’s gas over the Queen’s.

Amazing isn’t it? The Guardian is only too pleased to tell us it’s the end of the road for the inexpensive clean natural gas that will soon be available to help fuel a UK economic renaissance, even as it plans to continue using the fuel and pride itself on getting it from the enemy.

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One thought on “The Guardian Makes Yet Another Attack on Fracking, This Time at Home

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/sep/10/fireball-gas-industry-scrutiny

    The Guardian has been keeping it unreal on fracking and pipelines for some time. Look there’s an article and it looks like there are over 900 they have done on the San Bruno pipeline explosion and fracking from September 2010. Looks like the NRDC is mentioned and the connection for pipeliines is there at that time.

    The Guardian is unreadable. Definitely on this subject.

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