Tamboran announces drilling plans

The Fermanagh Herald have released an article concerning Tamboran’s bore-drill in Belcoo, County Fermanagh.

The Fermanagh Herald state:

FRACKING COMPANY Tamboran Resources Limited has today (July 21) confirmed that it intends to drill a scientific borehole to collect rock samples in south west Fermanagh.
The company has said that at this point, no ‘fracking’ will take place.
The site for the borehole is near Belcoo, described by a company spokesman as ‘an enclosed commercial area already used for heavy industrial purposes that will have limited visual impact’.
In 2011 Tamboran was granted a Petroleum Licence for an initial five year period from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and INVESTMENT to explore for natural gas in County Fermanagh.
The collection of rock samples (core) is a key requirement of the work programme set out by Government within the licence and the company said it is determined to meet its obligations in full.
The company plans to carry out the work by September 30, hoping to commence drilling operations in late August.
The rock samples will be analysed to help confirm the presence of a natural gas source in County Fermanagh. This will enable the company to determine if it will be possible to extract the gas at a much later date, subject to full planning approval.
Making the announcement, Dr Tony Bazley, Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd said:
“Tamboran’s intention at this stage is only to verify that the elements necessary for natural gas and its recovery are contained within the shale in County Fermanagh. This is fact-finding, not fracking. If County Fermanagh is home to a significant natural gas resource that could provide Northern Ireland with decades of a local secure energy supply then we believe the people have a right to know.
“We believe that the presence of natural gas in Northern Ireland could bring considerable benefits to the local and regional economy with the potential for billions of pounds of INVESTMENT; hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs created locally and importantly for Northern Ireland a secure supply of energy that could last for decades and potentially help reduce local energy costs. However, we first need to make sure enough gas is there to be commercially viable and that we will not know for certain until the end of the licence period. This is just the first stage in that process,” said Dr Bazley.
The controversial gas extraction method has been widely debated across the county, and recieved stern opposition from local politicians and anti-fracking activists.
Anti-fracking activist, Donal O’Cofaigh, from Belcoo, has said previously that the construction of frack WELLS ‘would devastate our countryside and threaten thousands of jobs in tourism and agriculture’.
“Big business, their political representatives and the corporate-owned press are all lining up behind fracking.
“They are only interested in PROFIT, no matter the cost to people’s health, living standards and our environment.
“It’s now up to ordinary people to get organised and stop the frackers in their tracks.”

To access the article, click here.

EU eyes US gas imports, citing current ukraine crisis

A two page document produced by the Council of the European Union Council Committee (EUCC) on May 27th 2014, outlines the desire of the EU to lift EU-US trade restrictions. This would allow the US to freely trade oil and gas exports across the atlantic to the European Union.

As a result of encouraging more crude oil and natural gas exports to the EU, the proposal would no doubt lead to an increase in fracking unconventional shale gas wells in the US, and would push more climate-disrupting fuels into the European Union as a whole, dealing a significant blow to efforts to avert climate change.

ULRAINE CONFLICT

The EU made no secret of its desire before in July 2013 for the right to import US shale oil and gas.

The 2014 leaked document, obtained by the Washington Post, cites the current Ukrainian crisis as a driver for the desired change in trade regulations as the EU looks to strengthen its energy security over the next few decades.

In summary, the document outlines six main points:

1) That the EU and US should continue to negotiate Energy and Raw Materials (ERM) commitments that would improve transatlantic ERM rules and thereby strengthen diversity and strength of supply, consumers and corporations. The EU propose the inclusion of a new chapter within the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would accommodate this goal.

2) For the EU and US, TTIP would benefit from the inclusion of such a chapter for the following reasons:

a) Improving International rules.
As things stand, it is easier for the EU have to source ERM from third party countries, reducing their ability to import shale oil and gas from the US. The EUCC also state that improving international rules will permit EU-US trade for US oil and gas resources, and improve regulatory policy for corporations.

b) Geo-Political factors.
The new TTIP chapter that aims to improve ERM trade across the atlantic would signal to other nations globally that there exists a strong relationship between the EU and US. The new chapter would be required to be all inclusive, streamlined, and would benefit partners of both the EU and US (for instance EU access to ERM from Canada and Mexico who are partnered with the US.)

c) Security of Supply
Previously, the energy supply provided to the EU included imports from Russia, that travelled in through the nation of Ukraine. However in light of the Ukrainian conflict, imports from Russia have reduced, which weakens the energy supply granted to the EU. As a result, the EUCC wish to bolster the security of their energy supply with imports from the US. A new ERM chapter in TTIP, would combine EU support for regulation on one hand, while also lifting bilateral restrictions on gas and crude oil on the other.

d) Systematic Issues
Here, the EUCC points out that, to an International audience, it looks awkward when the EU and US are such close allies, yet what exists between them are rules and regulations that reduce their ability to trade ERM with one another, the result being a reduced economy for both parties.

3) The EUCC have pointed out that there has been notable lack of desire for such a chapter from the US. Furtherstil, the EU still waiting for a clear signal of desire from the US on the matter.

4) The US has shown lack of effort for implementing legally binding rules which can lift trans atlantic trade restrictions for oil and gas to the EU. As a result, the EU proposes to produce a legally binding commitment in the TTIP guaranteeing the free export of crude oil and gas resources that fast-tracks licenses for exports to the EU. These licenses would be granted automatically and expeditiously in such a manner that does not require effort by the US, making no change to their existing legislation.

5) The EUCC propose that new rules should accommodate both existing existing EU and US legislation in order to increase the ease of the process of trading ERM transatlantically

6) In conclusion, the EU ask for teh US to signal their support for a new chapter in TTIP that would encourage and facilitate ERM trade of oil and gas from thE US, to the EU. This would build upon political support recently expressed by the U.S. Administration.

To read the leaked energy paper in full, click here.

Keiser Report: Proposed trespass laws allow drilling under private land without permission

keiser

On the 8th of April 2014, Russia Today‘s ‘Keiser Report’ takes a look at proposed law changes that will allow fracking companies to drill and frack under private property without seeking permission and in exchange for 100 pounds.
Also given consideration is the fact that the energy input for unconventional shale gas extraction is higher than the energy output, resulting in an energy negative process, which increases national debt.

You may view the full article here.

Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution if companies go bust

Taxpayers will pay to clean up any pollution caused by fracking if the companies go bankrupt.  A proposal to make UK operators take out insurance against such damage has been ruled out by the government, as reported in the Guardian newspaper.

Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for 'fracking', Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (image source: guardian.com)
Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for ‘fracking’, Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (image source: guardian.com)

 

As Rob Cunningham, head of water policy at the RSPB, said:

“The prime minister promised one of the most stringent regulatory regimes for fracking in the world but his government appears more interested in tax cuts than managing risk. It really doesn’t matter if you are pro or anti fracking, this proposal would simply ensure that when things do go wrong shareholders, not taxpayers bear the cost for cleanup if companies go bust or cease trading. If government’s response boils down to concerns over cost of insurance it sheds an interesting light on just how safe they really think the technology is.”

Read the full article here:

Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution if companies go bust | Environment | theguardian.com.

Cameron’s clangers

As reported in the Fermanagh Herald this week, Prime Minister David Cameron recently wrote a personal opinion piece for the Telegraph (the English daily paper) setting out his strongly pro-fracking views.  As he writes, “Fracking has become a national debate in Britain – and it’s one that I’m determined to win.”

So determined, it seems, that he is wrong on every important point he tries to make:

fracking-national-_2641250b

energy bills – Experts have shown that shale gas would not be a ‘game-changer’ in terms of UK energy prices and would not lead to lower household or business bills. What is more, a recent report suggests that in the US gas has actually been sold at below cost price in order to fuel speculation.

jobs – These would be few, low-skilled and short-term, far outweighed by the jobs and livelihoods likely to be lost in sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

benefits to local neighbourhoods – The £100,000 bribes he refers to would be a pittance compared to the costs of repairing and upgrading roads, of policing and security, and of necessary healthcare etc. This is even before any accidents or the costs of cleanup and decontamination. The tax breaks announced for shale gas industry suggest that little or no taxable profits would exist to create any revenue stream for communities.

safety – The ‘international evidence’ he claims to refer to is wildly skewed by the lack of monitoring, baseline studies and regulation and by the fact that victims of fracking contamination are forced to sign gagging clauses and so cannot go public about their experiences. In fact there is considerable and growing evidence from scientists and medics of a range of ill effects on human and animal health as a result of fracking operations.

regulation – Current regulations are not sufficient, as they have not kept up with this new and largely experimental technology. The coalition government has made no secret of its wish to remove the protections given to workers, residents and the environment in many areas, and we can have no confidence that things will be any better with regard to the shale gas industry,  given the close links between government and the fossil fuel industry, recently highlighted by the World Development Movement.

no damage to countryside (!) – It is not the size of individual pads that matters but the number, density and the fact that they will be linked by new roads, pipelines, processing facilities etc. Is Mr Cameron seriously suggesting that this would have no effect on the landscape? The conventional drilling that he tries to reassure us by referring to is not comparable in either its impact or its side-effects.

technological endeavour – Yes, we do have a tradition of innovation and engineering genius (across the whole UK, not just in Britain as he states) so we should use this in positive and sustainable ways to create high quality jobs and entrepreneurships, export opportunities and a secure future for our children, rather than following the mistakes made across the Atlantic.

This speech appears to be a damage limitation exercise following the embarrassing comments made by Lord Howell (George Osborne’s father in law) which revealed the extent to which the industry and Conservative Party hope to play one part of the country, and one community, off against another. As such, it contains nothing new. What it does show, however, is an arrogant disregard for the weight of evidence about the failures of fracking to live up to its promises and the disappointment and disillusion of communities that were taken in by the industry’s promises.

Something else that Mr Cameron is contemptuously ignoring is the fact, embarrassing for the local and national politicians supporting fracking, that so many of the people who spoke out about this issue at the time of the G8 were ordinary local residents who are concerned for their families, their neighbours and the county which they love. Of course, if Mr Cameron had expressed his gung-ho pro-fracking sentiments at the G8 itself, he would have had to acknowledge that not all its members are happy blindly to follow the US. In fact many countries, such as France, have very serious concerns about this experimental process and are not willing to use their people as guinea-pigs for the benefit of big business.

If you don’t want to be un cobaye either, please tell your local representatives that Mr Cameron doesn’t speak for you.  Find some ideas at our What can I do? page.

 

RSPB warns Northern Ireland not to push ahead with fracking

The RSPB, the largest conservation charity in Europe, has joined with other concerned organisations to warn the Northern Ireland Executive of the dangers of fracking.  They say:

‘Conservation charity the RSPB and two other leading environmental organisations are warning the Northern Ireland Executive not to push ahead with ‘fracking’ (a controversial method to extract gas) until sufficient evidence shows that it is safe to do so.

In County Fermanagh, the idyllic surroundings for the G8 summit, a licence has already been issued to explore for shale gas, but it is still unclear what the economic, social and environmental impact will be.

The RSPB, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) are deeply concerned about the environmental and health risks posed by ‘fracking’. The group believe more research is needed to understand the extent and impact of fracking on this beautiful habitat. John Martin, RSPB, stated that “Shale gas exploration and extraction should only be allowed within a strict regulatory and policy framework that is fit for purpose, and in Northern Ireland this does not exist.” In addition, Mr Martin continued “we believe that an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be required for all developments here. This has not been the case for other UK sites and problems have followed.”

Co Fermanagh is known for its excellent agricultural produce and wonderful natural heritage which attracts valuable spend from tourists travelling here from around the world. Much of the local economy has been built around this and as yet it is not known what impact fracking will have on these rich natural assets. Declan Alison, FOE stated “2050 is the cut-off date given by Tamboran, the company issued with the licence for exploration. No provision is given by the company on what will happen next but as temporary exploitation, shale gas is not an answer to economic uncertainty in the long term.”

A 2007 study commissioned on behalf of nine leading NGOs and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency found that economic activities relating to the environment contributed over half a billion to our local economy and the equivalent of over 32,000 jobs. “It would be foolish to threaten this already existing green economy in such uncertain times”, concluded Mr Alison.

The controversial method involves geological risks and can be responsible for triggering earthquakes as happened in Lancashire. Fermanagh has a unique geology which is rich in caves (map in annex): the group believe the seismic risk associated with fracking must be fully assessed as this could introduce unnecessary risks.

“Shale gas will also endanger NI’s ability to deliver on its climate change commitments within the UK Climate Act3 and move towards a green economy added Gary McFarlane of CIEH and Chair of Stop Climate Chaos NI. “Northern Ireland has some of the best features nature has to offer- wind, wave and tidal. These invaluable assets should be the future of the NI green economy and developing renewable energy could create thousands of new jobs”.

France, Bulgaria and South Africa have suspended the search for shale gas until research uncovers the potential long-term impacts on human health and the environment.’

 

Read the full statement with diagrams here, and see the accompanying map of the licence area, its water catchment and important nature conservation areas here.

Shale gas and Wall Street

In a fascinating report for the Energy Research Forum, Shale and Wall Street: Was the Decline in Natural Gas Prices  Orchestrated? Deborah Rogers has examined the relationship between the shale gas industry in the US and Wall Street investment banks.  As she explains (our emphasis):

“As documented in this report, emerging independent information on shale plays in the U.S. confirms the following:

Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy, which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees.

U.S. shale gas and shale oil reserves have been overestimated by a minimum of 100% and by as much as 400-500% by operators according to actual well production data filed in various states.

Shale oil wells are following the same steep decline rates and poor recovery efficiency observed in shale gas wells.

The price of natural gas has been driven down largely due to severe overproduction in meeting financial analysts’ targets of production growth for share appreciation coupled and exacerbated by imprudent leverage and thus a concomitant need to produce to meet debt service.

Due to extreme levels of debt, stated proved undeveloped reserves (PUDs) may not have been in compliance with SEC rules at some shale companies because of the threat of collateral default for those operators.

Industry is demonstrating reticence to engage in further shale investment, abandoning pipeline projects, IPOs and joint venture projects in spite of public rhetoric proclaiming shales to be a panacea for U.S. energy policy.

Exportation is being pursued for the differential between the domestic and international prices in an effort to shore up ailing balance sheets invested in shale assets.

It is imperative that shale be examined thoroughly and independently to assess the true value of shale assets, particularly since policy on both the state and national level is being implemented based on production projections that are overtly optimistic (and thereby unrealistic) and wells that are significantly underperforming original projections.”

Is UK and Northern Ireland policy being led by the same unrealistic projections?  Has the Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment considered the implications of this research?  To find out how to contact her, visit our What Can I Do? page.

Read the full report here

Image from report.

 

Drill, baby, drill?

A new report from the Post Carbon Institute looks beyond the rhetoric to examine the question “Can unconventional fuels usher in a new era of energy abundance?”

It concludes that:

* The reduction in US energy imports results primarily not from their use of unconventional fuels (shale gas etc.) but from economic decline and recession.

* The rate of energy supply (that is, the rate at which the resources can be produced) for unconventional fuels is very low.

* The net energy yield (that is, the difference between the energy needed to produce the fuel, and the energy contained in the final product) for unconventional fuels is also very low.

* Shale gas production in the US has been on a plateau since December 2011.

* 80 percent of shale gas production in the US comes from five plays, several of which are in decline.

* The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital – estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32.5 billion.

Does this sound like an industry that will benefit Northern Ireland’s economy or like a bubble waiting to burst?

Read the summary of the report here or the full report here.

Photograph: Fracking in Texas, by Tim Lewis (http://www.aireindustrial.net/) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t dash for gas, says government watchdog

ECONOMY

Investing in new renewable power generation, rather than a “dash for gas”, will be the lower-cost option for keeping the lights on while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s climate change watchdog has said.

Read the full article here: Don’t delay on renewable energy, government told | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

Judge rules that fracking risks were illegally overlooked

A court in California has ruled that the issuing of oil and gas leases broke the law because it did not take into account the dangers of fracking, including potential water contamination .  The leases cover 2500 acres of land and are estimated to contain 64% of the United States’ shale oil reserves.  Like shale gas, shale oil is only economically obtainable by using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  The court found that the Bureau of Land Management violated US environmental law by not carrying out a full environmental impact study.  It was also pointed out that the exploitation of fossil fuels such as shale oil and gas are in conflict with California’s policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down catastrophic climate change.

We hope that this cautionary tale will warn our own administration not to make hurried, costly and dangerous decisions that will threaten the economic, health and environmental futures of the people of Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.  Visit our What can I do? page to find out more about how you can make your voice heard.

Read the full article here: Judge rules administration overlooked fracking risks in California mineral leases | Reuters.

[picture from the Reuters article, copyright Reuters/Marco Anzuoni]