1. ST started by trying to ridicule anti frackers with a cartoon. There is a proud, sound and valid history of using cartoons even exaggerated images to convey a message.
2. He tried to underplay the seismic effect at Preece Hall, Lancashire saying it was hardly felt at ground level – no greater than a bus passing by! Alarming that a passing bus could cause enough damage to the well casing to force the well to be abandoned! – something that was not reported for 6 months. Seismic movement will cause wells to fail despite their current design. Cement cracks with movement and cracks cause leakage. Multiple layers of steel and cement will make no difference.
3. He misleadingly quoted a 3 km separation between aquifers and horizontal drilling, but this would not be the case for CBM. Our coal beds start at about 950m below ground and are only 140m from the Sherwood Sandstone aquifer which extends to about 810m depth. His point about increasing salinity with depth was also misleading in this respect as he suggested it didn’t matter about contaminating depths below 200 or 300m but it does matter because the contaminated water can spread.
4. He tried to underplay the growing numbers of claims and cases of failures in the US by citing numbers of wells. However the lower population density, larger land ownership patterns, gagging orders, bankruptcy tactics and corporate and political corruption in the US disguise the actual impacts, which are becoming increasingly apparent and documented.
5. He acknowledged that aquifers had been contaminated, but said it was a really small percentage. What if our Sherwood Sandstone aquifer falls within that small percentage?
6. He claimed that well integrity would be better regulated here making the assumption that more layers of steel will fix the problem. This has been proven not to be the case as all wells will leak eventually and 5% immediately (Professor Ingraffea citing industry figures).
7. He said that surface contamination is the same as any other industrial activity – which doesn’t make it OK, especially as there are radio-active substances involved and as drilling would be close to homes and on farmland. Renewables don’t cause surface contamination.
8. He said there was no evidence of water or ground contamination from the current 200 UK onshore wells which is not relevant as most are conventional wells and it is not true. There is an injunction about contamination at Barton Moss – the injunction itself being an indicator of the contempt that the industry has for transparency and honesty. We advise CWaC to confirm this with the Environment Agency.
9. He tried to underplay the risks and dangers by comparing the risks of drilling to those of driving but drilling risks affect the public and environment as a whole.
10. He tried to rubbish wind power and claimed that one well in the US is producing as much energy as 150 wind turbines. This is not a good analogy as this was for one month. The wind turbines will go on turning for years whereas the shale gas well will cease to be productive after about 3 years. Renewable energy could be the subject of a session on its own but recently wind has regularly produced 20% of UK energy supply. This is despite inadequate investment in research and improvement and the failure to link wind power to water or other methods to capture energy for peak use or periods of low wind. Solar energy also has significant potential and is extensively used in Germany.
11. He mentioned a report that claimed shale gas was more environmentally friendly than renewables when taking account of use of rare metals etc. but in renewables these materials are re-usable and we have submitted an EU Report which concludes that renewables are the most efficient energy source for the EU taking account of all costs except transport which has further environmental impacts and makes fossil fuels even more costly.
12. He was presented in CWaC papers as an “Environmental Impact Assessor” but did not speak about this and denied involvement in these issues. He said he would not advise on water storage or treatment. Instead he claimed to be an Independent Monitor, but he is not independent and the public requests that baseline and monitoring samples and data be made available for true independent analysis and regulation. He was asked about baseline data for CWAC which he has not been asked to carry out here. Why is this, given that the Ellesmere Port drill is already in place?
13. He was asked whether there should be restrictions as to where drilling should be permitted and for example how far away from homes drilling should be allowed. He replied using conventional examples eg Wych Farm not unconventional so these examples should be disregarded. He said considerations would be made for areas of outstanding natural beauty and SSIs – but no mention of keeping away from homes and schools! What is a safe distance for a drilling rig to be from a house or school?
14. Was asked about his thoughts on Mark Carney’s statement. He said we need shale gas for the short term because nothing else will fill the gap. However, it will take 10 years for shale to come on line, long after the time when we need to have found an alternative solution for the short-term and indeed long-term.
15. When asked about the earthquakes in Lancashire he replied that they were caused by fracking fluid LEAKING into a pre-existing fault. Leaking well was it?!
16. Said well pad would be returned to its original state, but this will not include below ground where we cannot see.
1. Started by trying to blur the lines between conventional and unconventional. He said that the term unconventional is nonsense but then went on to explain that there is a difference!
2. He tried to detract attention from the many issues over this industry by claiming that the real issue is well integrity not fracking. (He showed the section of well design with several rings of steel and concrete but failed to note that the ground moves and all wells will fail eventually. It will make no difference how many rings of steel or layers of concrete – Professor Ingraffea – the industry has not fixed the systemic problem of well leakage because it cannot).
3. He claimed that fracking fluids were innocuous but this has been proven to be untrue in the past and should be tested by full disclosure and credible independent analysis. Are biocides non-hazardous? Regardless of what fracking fluids are used, produced water/flow back is anything but innocuous or harmless.
4. He tried to claim that the UK industry applied adequate standards but it patently does not. It is already progressing without adequate baseline information and EIAs as we know from Ellesmere Port, Ince and most or all other sites in the UK.
5. He claimed that the industry was addressing the issue of perpetual liability but there is no evidence of this and the industry is well known for its false promises. He said that liability would end with a certificate of abandonment from the regulatory bodies after a period of time. Doesn’t say how long that period of time will be. Is there a scheme in place already? If exploratory wells are already being drilled then something should be in place. How much would the industry compensate for the loss of an aquifer?
6. He tried to undermine the figure for methane being 86 times worse than Co2 by using one of 25 times. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set up by the United Nations is the recognised authority on Climate Change. In 2007 it published figures for the effect of Methane as 25 times greater than CO2 over 100 years and revised this in 2013 to 34 times greater over 100 years but with even greater effects of 108 times greater than CO2 over 10 years and 86 times over 20 years. These shorter periods are more relevant because these are when climate change is most critical. JB would have known this but chose to try to mislead the panel by refuting the correct, relevant figure of 86 and quoting the lowest outdated and most irrelevant figure of 25.
7. He did not mention the treatment/disposal of the produced water at all – just that it would be stored in sealed tanks. If production goes ahead this can only be a short term solution, what are they going to do with the water? (Are the panel aware of the Manchester Ship Canal episode?) Will they be using reinjection wells?
8. JB never made any mention of existing natural faults in the geology of Cheshire. He suggested that the shale rock was so deep that a frack would not act as a pathway to an aquifer. However this does not take into consideration that a frack could meet an existing fault and this could act as a conduit to the aquifer or that CBM layers are considerably closer to the aquifer.
PRECOGNITION BY PROFESSOR DAVID K. SMYTHEON BEHALF OF CONCERNED COMMUNITIES OF FALKIRK (AND SUPPORTERS)
“artificially created fractures are regarded as potential pathways for contaminating fluids and fugitive methane”.
“The default position in the industry is the conservative one – that faults do not act as seals. In oil or gas exploration, if a fault is wrongly judged to be a seal when in fact it is permeable, no damage is done, other than to the bank balances and share prices of companies and individuals. However, in the case of CBM exploitation, the consequences of over optimistically assuming that faults act as seals may be extremely damaging to the environment”.