Cameron on fracking opponents

January 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Many opponents of gas fracking are “irrational” and simply “can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel”, David Cameron said on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister attacked people who he described as “religiously opposed” to shale gas exploration.

He said that fracking is a “real opportunity” for Britain and that it could solve our gas needs for decades to come.

Opponents do tend to have a near-religious belief that any use of Earth’s natural resources is spiritually wrong, and must be opposed.

Mr Cameron said: “There are, though, some people who I think are opposing shale because they simply can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel being used in our energy mix and I think that is irrational because it’s surely better for us to be extracting shale safely from our own country rather than paying a large price for having it imported from around the world.”

He added: “I think that’s why some people are so religiously opposed to it because they just don’t want to see any carbon-based energy work. I don’t think that’s helpful.”

Or rational.

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10 biggest anti-fracking lies

August 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Phelim McAleer, the producer of FrackNation, details his list of the top 10 lies told about fracking:

  1. Anti-fracking activists are nice people who love debate
  2. Everyone hates fracking
  3. Fracking is brand new and untested (started in 1947)
  4. Fracking makes your water flammable
  5. Fracking contaminates drinking water – one million fracked wells, zero cases
  6. Fracking uses a lot of dangerous chemicals – actually 0.5% only
  7. Fracking causes breast cancer
  8. Fracking uses a ton of water – 5% of that used to water lawns
  9. Fracking should be banned because it causes earthquakes – so do hydro dams and geothermal
  10. Fracking destroys the landscape and disturbs bucolic rural America – generally only for a few days

d

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More fracking great news

April 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

Against all expectations, US emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, since peaking in 2007, have fallen by 12 per cent as of 2012, back to 1995 levels. The primary reason, in a word, is “fracking”. Or, in 11 words: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to recover deposits of shale gas.

Yet the Greens wanted it banned here. This is the difference between being pro-environment (which many people are) and anti-science (which the Greens often are).

One can virtually prove that shale gas has been the major influence driving the fall in US emissions. Just ten years ago, the natural-gas industry was so sure that domestic production was reaching its limit that it made large investments in terminals to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). Yet fracking has increased supply so rapidly that these facilities are now being converted to export LNG.

Natural gas emits only half as much CO2 as coal, and occupies a rapidly increasing share of electricity generation – up 37 per cent since 2007, while coal’s share has plummeted by 25 per cent. Indeed, natural gas has drawn close to coal as the number one source of US power.

Half the emissions of coal? If the Greens honestly thought climate change was the planet’s biggest threat, they’d be promoting fracking.

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Great news from the Greens

January 28th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Green MP Gareth Hughes blogs:

BusinessDesk said today, “Onshore Taranaki oil explorer TAG Oil is planning more than 130 new onshore wells, with 13 to be drilled in 2013 and consents sought for platforms from which another 120 could eventually be drilled.”

Not all wells will necessarily be fracked, but you can be certain that fracking technology has made the building of these wells economically viable.

That’s great news, and a superb endorsement of fracking. Without it those well would not be viable and we’d have to import more oil from the Middle East, and have fewer jobs and lower tax revenues in NZ.

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Fracking jobs

December 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rob Maetzing at Stuff reports:

Venture Taranaki has joined in on the fracking debate, releasing a study that forecasts billions of dollars and thousands of jobs over the next decade if fracking is allowed to continue. …

It claims fracking has the potential to annually deliver almost $800 million in GDP and create more than 7000 jobs under a growth scenario over the next 10 years.

But if a moratorium is introduced and fracking is banned, the GDP would reduce to $215 million and create fewer than 2000 jobs.

“In an industry where a single well strike can add $1 billion onto the nation’s balance sheet, the value in optimising the productivity of existing wells cannot be underestimated,” the report says.

The report criticises perceptions that profits from oil and gas activity in New Zealand disappear offshore or into a central royalties fund, that it employs few New Zealanders, and that the nation does not benefit. “This simply isn’t the case.

“The economic rewards from oil and gas extend far beyond royalties. The value that could be added by fracking lies in jobs, innovation, added-value manufacturing, regional growth, and greater energy security for our national economy.”

New Zealand’s base-load domestic energy demand is 160 to 170 petajoules a year.

By 2018 the country is forecast to experience a shortfall between demand and supply, which will require either increased imports, new discoveries, and/or embracing new technologies that will enable the extension of existing fields.

“Fracking is one of those technologies, and can help New Zealand meet the energy demands of current and future generations,” the report says.

And in the UK, the Government has just given fracking the go ahead.

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A leftie reader writes in on fracking

December 11th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A leftie reader e-mailed me:

I too was disappointed with the Green Party’s response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s review of fracking in New Zealand.

The problem with the Greens is that they are reflexively anti-science when it doesn’t fit their world-view. Their latest position on fracking is the second time in a row the Green Party has attacked the work of the Commissioner.

The last time was in July when Gareth Hughes had a go at her report on Evaluating solar water heating: Sun, renewable energy, and climate change. That report took an extensive look at whether subsidised solar-power units for household hot water actually helped reduce carbon emissions. Turns out the impact at peak times (when gas-powered reserve energy generation capacity is needed) is negligible. 

Ignoring that, Hughes said the evidence-based report was “unhelpful” and “has done solar water heating a disservice”.

Now, remember that the investigation into fracking was undertaken at the request of the Greens – back in March they presented a petition to parliament entitled “Frack No”, which expressly called for “the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to conduct an inquiry into the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New Zealand, and to report the results of the inquiry to the House.”

Talk about an own-goal.

In a speech in May, Hughes said: “The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is currently investigating fracking. This is the appropriate independent body to have a look at all the facts. Let’s wait for the research to come into effect”. Shame Hughes didn’t take his own advice and began trying to undermine the outcome of the report before it was released.

Well, Dr Jan Wright did have a look at all the facts. And while she says some of the rules governing fracking should be considered, she ruled out any knee-jerk response.

It’s just a shame the Green Party refused to do the same.

A timely reminder that there is a history of attacking the independent Commissioner for the Environment, when her conclusions and the scientific evidence doesn’t support their political campaigns.

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Fracking and shale gas

December 10th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Baron Lawson of Blaby (father of Nigella) writes in the Daily Mail:

Thirty years ago, I was Secretary of State for Energy in Margaret Thatcher’s government, and one way and another I have been a close observer of the energy scene ever since. 

In all that time, I have never known a technological revolution as momentous as the breakthrough that has now made it economic to extract gas from shale.

Technology the Greens are trying to ban.

… shale gas is locked in dense rock. Energy companies must drill a well hundreds or thousands of feet deep to reach the layer of shale — which can be just 50ft thick — and then turn the drill sideways to bore horizontally.

Water, chemicals and sand are pumped into the hole under enormous pressure until the rock cracks, allowing gas locked up in the shale to escape and flow upwards into the well. 

This process is called hydraulic fracturing — or ‘fracking’ for short.

So how significant is this shale gas, that the Greens want left down there?

The consequences are difficult to exaggerate. Not just in terms of the economic benefit of a new and abundant source of relatively cheap energy, but in geopolitical terms, too.

Until now, the West has been heavily dependent for its supplies of oil and gas on an unstable Middle East and an unreliable Russia. Crucially, all that has changed because gas and oil-bearing shale is scattered throughout the world — including in Britain. …

The dramatic news emerged a few weeks ago that the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer in 2017.

America is already the world’s largest natural gas producer, and it is estimated that, by 2035, almost 90 per cent of Middle East oil and gas exports will go to Asia, with the U.S. importing virtually none.

It is ironic that for decades the left have cried out that they want the US less dependent on middle eastern oil, and now that it can happen – they are fighting it.

For decades, the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, has had to shape, and sometimes arguably to misshape, its foreign policy in the light of its dependence on Middle East oil and gas. No longer: that era is now over.

For decades, too, Europe has been fearful of the threat that Russia might cut off the gas supplies on which it has relied so heavily.

No longer: that era will very soon be over, too. Thanks to the shale gas revolution, the newfound energy independence of the West is a beneficent game-changer in terms of world politics as much as it is in the field of energy economics.

When bullies lose their power, this is a good thing.

The company behind the exploration has announced that Blackpool is sitting on one of the biggest shale gas fields in the world — with a reserve of 200 trillion cubic feet lying under the Lancastrian countryside. 

To put that figure in perspective, it’s enough gas to keep the UK going for 50 years and create more than 5,000 jobs.

50 years of fuel in just one field. So what does this mean for peak oil?

For the world as a whole, technically recoverable gas resources are now conservatively reckoned to amount to around 16,000 trillion cubic feet. In short, as a result of the shale revolution, the Earth can now provide us with about 250 years’ worth of gas supplies.

The so-called ‘peak oil’ theory, which suggests that within the foreseeable future the world will run out of fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — has never looked more absurd.

If you hear about peak oil again, laugh. And point out even George Monbiot has admitted peak oil has not occurred and will not occur for many decades or more.

While the world’s shale gas reserves appear to be massive, they could even be dwarfed by global oil shale reserves in sedimentary rock, which contains solid organic material that can be converted into an oil-like product when heated.

According to the U.S. government, oil shale deposits in an area called the Green River Formation in the western United States are estimated to contain up to 3 trillion barrels of oil — three times more than the whole world has consumed in the past 100 years.

And the Greens want us to stop building roads in New Zealand, because they say peak oil will lead to the death of the car.

We are living in an era when good news is thin on the ground. The shale gas revolution is the exception: a game-changing piece of good news, both economically and geo-politically, both for this country and for the world.

Hear hear.

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Greens reject fracking report even though a Green candidate was team leader

December 3rd, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR (paywall) reports:

Quentin Duthie was project leader for the team which put together the report on fracking, released by the commissioner on Tuesday.

Mr Duthie was a Green Party candidate in 2005 and 2008 and has also worked as a parliamentary staffer for the party. More recently he has been a conservation advocate for Forest and Bird. …

Mineral industry groups welcomed the report but the Green Party, with MP Gareth Hughes calling it “half-baked”, condemned it, saying there should be a moratorium on fracking.

This just demonstrates that the Greens parliamentary wing are putting politics ahead of the environment.  They demanded this inquiry, and then rejected out of hand the main conclusion that there is no evidence to justify a moratorium (a Orwellian term for a ban).

People need to understand that many many people in political life care about the environment and conservation. The Greens political party pushes an extreme version of environmentalism which is basically opposition to any activity that impacts the environment in any way.

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Even the EDF supports fracking

November 28th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

While the Greens still insist fracking should be banned (until it is *proven* safe – an impossible test to ever meet), other green groups are less reactionary.

The United States Environmental Defence Fund is a non-partisan environmental group. So they are worried abotu the environment, not about getting elected to anything. They have over 700,000 members. Their achievements include getting DDT banned, the Safe Water Drinking Act, getting lead out of gasoline, banning ozone depleting CFCs, marine and ecosystem reserves and many more.

The EDF has blogged why they think that fracking overall is beneficial for the environment:

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is often called upon by those opposed to natural gas development to support a ban or moratorium on drilling.  They argue that fighting for tough regulations, as EDF is doing, helps ensure that natural gas development will take place.  Some of our friends in the environmental community have questioned why we are working on natural gas at all.  They suggest that we should simply oppose natural gas development, and focus solely on championing energy efficiency and renewables.  We understand these concerns, and respect the people who share them.  And for that reason, we want to be as clear as we can be as to why EDF is so deeply involved in championing strong regulation of natural gas.

Our view on natural gas is shaped by three basic facts.  First, hydraulic fracturing is already a common practice in the oil and gas industry.  Over 90 percent of new onshore oil and gas development taking place in the United States today involves some form of hydraulic fracturing, and shale gas accounts for a rapidly increasing percentage of total natural gas production—from 16% in 2009 to more than 30% today.  In short, hydraulic fracturing is not going away any time soon.

Second, this fight is about much more than the role that natural gas may play in the future of electricity supply in the United States.  Natural gas is currently playing an important role in driving out old coal plants, and we are glad to see these coal plants go.  On balance, we think substituting natural gas for coal can provide net environmental value, including a lower greenhouse gas footprint.

This is the hypocrisy of the Greens. They moan about job losses on the West Coast, at the same tide as they try to close mining down. They  complain our greenhouse gas emissions are too high, yet oppose fracking for natural gas.  Underneath the slick marketing, you have a fundamental belief system that any industry that use natural resources is wrong and must be stopped.

I reccently heard one person, who must be a Green member, advocate against trade that requires transporting of goods further than can be done on a bicycle. No, I am not kidding – this was in New Zealand.

Our analysis has led us to conclude that there are many ways to eliminate hazards and reduce risks from hydraulic fracturing and related ‘unconventional’ oil and gas production practices.  Strong rules that require these steps to be taken are needed, backed up by effective oversight and enforcement with the necessary financial and human resources to make these efforts real. 

There is where the debate should be.

Demand for natural gas is not going away, and neither is hydraulic fracturing.  We must be clear-eyed about this, and fight to protect public health and the environment from unacceptable impacts.  We must also work hard to put policies in place that ensure that natural gas serves as an enabler of renewable power generation, not an impediment to it.  We fear that those who oppose all natural gas production everywhere are, in effect, making it harder for the U.S. economy to wean itself from dirty coal.

Natural gas production can never be made entirely safe; like any intensive industrial activity, it involves risks. But having studied the issue closely, we are convinced that if tough rules, oversight and penalties for noncompliance are put in place, these risks become manageable.

This is the difference between a true environmental group, and between politicians who spout slogans to attract support, such as banning fracking.

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Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says fracking can be done safely

November 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has announced:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright released her interim report on fracking this afternoon.

The report, Evaluating the environmental impacts of fracking in New Zealand, concludes that fracking can be done safely if well managed but raises concerns about the rules and safeguards surrounding the practice in New Zealand.

“During the course of this investigation I have come to a similar conclusion to the Royal Society which is that fracking is safe if it is properly regulated and managed.

“However I have significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is and about how these rules are being applied.

“If fracking is not done well it can have significant environmental impacts including polluting water and triggering earthquakes.

“I am also concerned that regulation may be too light-handed, particularly if fracking opens the door to a large-scale and widespread oil and gas boom with a lot of different companies involved.

“These concerns form the basis of the next stage of my investigation into fracking which I hope to conclude before the middle of next year.”

If the Greens ever go on about evidence based policy again, then recall how they demanded this inquiry and despite the findings they are still calling for fracking to remain banned until it is “proven safe”. They did the same with genetic engineering.

I’m pleased to see the Commissioner (who has not been shy to seriously attack the Government when she thinks they have it wrong), come up with sensible conclusions, and her further work should be very useful in providing a regulatory regime for fracking to continue to be used in New Zealand – as it has for over 20 years already.

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The fracking report

November 26th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Neil Reid at Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s environmental watchdog is unlikely to call for a ban on fracking upon the release of her initial inquiry into the controversial oil and gas industry technique.

Will this stop the Greens from trying to get it banned?

Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said if Wright did not make a binding stand on fracking in her report, he would call on the Government to order a moratorium on fracking until the procedure was proven safe.

Of course not. We should also ban manufacturing until it has been proven safe.

Earlier this month, Todd Energy released the 178-page submission it had provided Wright’s investigation.

In it, the energy company – which has a history of fracking in Taranaki – said New Zealand’s multibillion-dollar energy industry would be uneconomic if fracking was outlawed.

Todd Energy chief executive Paul Moore argued the practice could be done safely.

“We need to do it – but we also need to assure the public that we’re doing it well,” he said.

The sensible debate is around how it is done and what consents are needed.

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The value of fracking

November 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s multibillion-dollar energy industry will become uneconomic if fracking is banned from drilling operations, an industry report says.

Banning the controversial practice could potentially endanger the future of the lucrative sector, says the report, prepared by New Zealand-owned Todd Energy. …

Todd’s conclusions highlight the importance of the industry to New Zealand’s energy supply and coffers and raises the possibility of major oil and gas players walking away from uneconomic prospects.

The result of a three-month research project, the Todd report has been written as its submission to the PCE inquiry. Close to 180 pages long, it is the most comprehensive industry report into fracking published in New Zealand.

It says opposition to fracking in New Zealand is being based not on evidence, but on misinformation and emotion.

The 2010 movie Gasland, which received significant public attention, has also been comprehensively discredited, the report says.

It’s ironic that the Greens are so against fracking, as in the US it has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

THE GOOD OIL

Contributes $2.2 billion to GDP every year

Provides more than 6000 jobs for Kiwis

Each worker produces about $525,000 in labour productivity, which is five times the national average

Estimates show the Government received $1b from the oil and gas sector in the 2009-10 year

Decisions should be based on science. My prediction is that regardless of what the PCE finds, the Greens will still insist on a moratorium (euphemism for a ban).

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More on fracking being great for the environment

September 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

From the Daily Telegraph:

Geologists have known for decades about gas trapped in shale and other rock formations, but only in the past 20 years has technology existed that allows it to be captured. In America, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, has transformed the energy supply. Shale now provides a third of its gas, up from 2 per cent a decade ago. British companies now pay four times as much for gas as their American counterparts – not something that global chemical companies can ignore when deciding where to build a new factory. Docks built to import gas into America are now exporting it.

This has been nothing short of an energy revolution, and it could well happen here. When 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas deposits were discovered in Lancashire last year – enough to power Britain for 65 years – it was without doubt the biggest energy find since North Sea oil in the Sixties. It says much about the hysterical nature of the British climate change debate, however, that this was almost entirely ignored.

Shale emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal, and is far cheaper to produce. The biggest deposits are in China, so passing fracking technology on to the Chinese could do more to reduce global carbon emissions than any airport runway ban. Yet the environmentalists have greeted shale with either complete silence, or outright hostility.

Instead of it being “Drill, baby, drill” we should be saying “Frack, baby, frack”!

Fracking is also helping people out of poverty in India.

In just one year the price of guar has surged tenfold, from about 30 rupees (about 50 U.S. cents) to around 300 rupees for each kilogram of the precious seed.

Behind the phenomenal price rise is a surge in demand.

Oil and gas companies in the United States have developed a massive appetite for guar gum powder — a key ingredient in a process called fracking, which is used to extract natural and shale gas from beneath the Earth’s surface.

Guar gum powder has unique binding, thickening and emulsifying qualities which make it ideal for fracking, explains B.D. Agarwal, the founder and managing director of Vikas WSP, an Indian company that specializes in producing the product.

So far, oil companies have not been able to find a suitable substitute, he says.

Since 90% of the world’s guar is grown in the desert belt of northwest India, local farmers in this poor area are enjoying the benefit of the guar rush. …

In May this year, Vikas gave 15 kilograms of guar seeds to 200,000 farmers and guaranteed them returns.

“Everyone in the village is now growing guar,” Kumar’s wife, Dayawanti, says. “No one talks of anything else. It’s changed the village. If you came here two years ago, you wouldn’t see joy on anyone’s face.”

Her neighbors’ house is bursting with joy. Musicians beat traditional drums to welcome guests as the community gets together to celebrate a marriage.

The bridegroom — also a guar farmer — says he would never have been able to afford this pomp if it wasn’t for guar.

So fracking is good for the environment, good for energy and good for helping people out of poverty.

So why are the Greens trying to get it banned?

 

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Fracking saving the planet!

August 25th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Ronald Bailey at Reason blogs:

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions at 20-Year Low Thanks to Fracking 

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. …

Both government and industry experts said the biggest surprise is how quickly the electric industry turned away from coal. In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago.

It is fracking that has opened up the shale gas. The Greens should be promoting fracking, not trying to ban it.

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Mayor Bob is wrong

August 21st, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tina Law reports:

Dr Smith said hysteria was sweeping the country about the practice, and he called for some “science and commonsense” to be injected into the debate.

He likened the fracking debate to a modern-day version of the Chicken Licken story, in which a hen thinks the sky is falling in after an acorn hits her head.

He accused the Christchurch City Council of “jumping on the Greens’ ‘Don’t Frack with New Zealand’ bandwagon”, saying fracking had been done in New Zealand for decades and was used in the building of the Clyde Dam.

But Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Christchurch had experienced 12,500 quakes, so it was “entirely reasonable” for the city to ban the controversial practice until someone could provide evidence it would not trigger more of them.

“We’re not going to take a risk on something that we are uncertain about until there is some certainty.”

Absolutely wrong. You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do). You ban things when they are proven unsafe.

It was not an entirely reasonable thing to do. It was an entirely kneejerk thing to do.

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Nick Smith on fracking

August 14th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Nick Smith writes in the Herald:

The hysteria sweeping the country over fracking is like a modern-day version of the Chicken Licken story.

It is not the fear of the sky falling in but of what is happening underground that is seeing the formation of anti-fracking groups. Councils in Christchurch, Hawkes Bay, Dunedin, Hastings and Kaikoura, as well as many community boards, have jumped on the Greens’ “Don’t Frack with NZ” bandwagon. It is time to inject some science and common sense into the debate.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been used in New Zealand for decades. Some 25 years ago, fracking was used in the construction of the Clyde Dam while I was undertaking my doctoral thesis in geotechnical engineering. Fracking is used to develop geothermal energy fields and to enhance oil and gas recovery in the petroleum industry. It is similar to “well stimulation” in the water industry.

As Nick points out he knows a bit more about this stuff than the average MP or city councillor jumping on the bandwagon.

The first environmental risk cited by those seeking a ban is that fracking can trigger small earthquakes. This is true for all sorts of engineering works. A magnitude 4 earthquake was triggered by the filling of Lake Pukaki in the 1960s. Lots of small earthquakes are triggered by constructing pile foundations for buildings, bridges and wharves. Hundreds of small quakes are occurring with the current geothermal energy developments north of Taupo. The few small earthquakes that could be caused by fracking need to be considered in the context of there being 18,000 naturally occurring earthquakes over magnitude 2.5 across the country a year. New Zealanders have more to fear from the vibration of their mobile phone than that caused by fracking.

Nice. That puts it into context.

The second concern is pollution of New Zealand’s waterways and aquifers. These risks are also low. The proppants used are just fillers. They pose fewer health risks than sand in the family sand pit. The lubricants have a toxicity similar to dish washing liquid. The far greater risk to water quality is the natural contaminants from underground that may be picked up by the water during drilling or fracking of a well. This is particularly true of geothermal wells in volcanic strata that often contain toxic chemicals.

The argument here is not that fracking is risk-free but rather that the risks are manageable. This is the conclusion of the Taranaki Regional Council which has overseen 20 years of petroleum industry fracking without incident. The United States Environmental Protection Authority has come to a similar conclusion. A detailed inquiry just published by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom also concludes the technology can be used safely. We do need to ensure wells are properly sealed, that drilling and fracking wastewater is responsibly managed and that ground vibrations are monitored and minimised.

As Nick says fracking is not new, and it is about risk minimisation and management. The calls by the Greens and associated politicians to ban fracking temporarily or indefinitely are the modern day anti-science witch-hunt.

There are huge geothermal energy resources in the upper North Island that can be developed only with fracking. It is contradictory for the Greens to campaign on a platform of creating 100,000 jobs from renewable energy, identify geothermal as a key opportunity and then propose a fracking ban that would kill this industry.

Just as they whine loudly about affordable housing and bitterly oppose freeing up more land to reduce land prices.

Fracking technologies are underpinning an energy revolution in the United States. Huge unconventional shale gas resources in Louisiana and Pennsylvania are coming on stream, enabling gas to replace coal-fired electricity generation. Gas emits one-third the greenhouse gas emissions of coal. This low-cost gas is also reducing American dependence on the Middle East.

So fracking can be good relatively for the environment.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, in response to demands from the Greens, is undertaking an inquiry and will report by Christmas. I fear this will unfold in a similar way to when the Greens demanded a Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, but then rubbished its conclusions.

Yep.

I am passionate about New Zealand’s natural environment. I want to bequeath my children and grandchildren a nation with a great lifestyle, a strong economy and a clean environment. That will only be possible if we take a rational and science-based approach to our natural resources and risk management. Fracking may have too many letters in common with our favourite swear word, but it is the least of New Zealand’s environmental worries.

An excellent column.

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Top UK scientists say fracking is safe

July 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A landmark British investigation into fracking has concluded that the controversial practice is safe with little risk to health and the environment.

The review, by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, says fracking can be managed effectively in Britain – as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Greens to say they no longer want it banned. I bet you than even if the NZ Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment comes out with the same conclusions, the Greens will ignore the science and maintain total opposition to it.

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Best reply ever

June 29th, 2012 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

From the parliamentary written questions database:

3061 (2012). Gareth Hughes to the Minister of Energy and Resources (20 Apr 2012): Where, to the best of the Minister’s knowledge, has hydraulic fracturing occured in New Zealand?
Hon Phil Heatley (Minister of Energy and Resources) replied: Underground.
Heh. MPs need to be precise with how they ask questions :-)
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Fracking good for climate change

June 26th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The American interest blogs:

Despite there being no real effort by Congress to addressglobal warming and America’s longstanding reputation as an energy hog, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are falling.

The lackluster economy has something to do with it. But it doesn’t fully explain what’s happening. Consider that even factoring in a stronger economy, forecasters see greenhouse gas emissions continuing to fall.

It’s possible the country may meet its pledge to reduce emissions 17% by 2020.

So what is causing this?

The secret isn’t laws, green activism or regulations (although these do have roles to play). Innovation is the force that is enabling the cut in US carbon emissions. Specifically, the new ways of extracting natural gas that make have driven a natural gas boom in this country and dramatically cut the cost of the cleanest hydrocarbon energy source of them all. …

Ignore the greens and innovate, and you will cut carbon. Pay a lot of attention to them, spend a lot of money — and you will keep carbon emissions unchanged.

The story of course is more complicated than this, and there are real environmental problems that come with fracking. Nevertheless, the one force capable of enabling human beings to have the kind of freedom and abundance that they want while preserving the planetary environment on which we all depend is innovation. Regulations and laws have their place, but they can only do so much.

Right now, fracking is doing more to control carbon emissions than all the efforts of all the greens in the world. …

And by creating more well paid blue collar jobs both in gas and oil extraction and in the manufacturing industries that will grow to exploit the new cheap energy sources, fracking strengthens the American economy and the tax base, providing revenues for both federal and state governments.

Fracking is the left’s best friend.

Now the Greens always say climate change is the biggest challenge the planet faces – we risk extinction in fact. So I expect them to immediately stop their campaign to ban fracking, and endorse its use!

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The truth about drilling

May 9th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A welcome reality check from the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association CEO at Stuff:

It seems as if opposition to the industry wants Kiwis to believe they can either have a country with a clean-green image or one that supports hydrocarbon exploration. But we don’t need to choose. We can have both.

We can have both, and in fact do have both.

To say oil and gas exploration is 100 per cent risk-free would be untrue. Like many other industries we cannot responsibly provide foolproof guarantees.

What we can do is work hard to ensure we have best-practice models, that we eliminate risks at every turn and implement the best technologies to ensure wells have little environmental impact and are as safe as possible from the risk of incident. We are more concerned about constructing a steel reinforced fence at the top of the cliff rather than providing an ambulance at the bottom.

New Zealanders travel on planes every day. The pilots and mechanics triple check the engines; ground staff prepare each plane for flight over and over again. But there are no 100 per cent guarantees the flight will proceed without incident. We see some horrific stories about plane crashes. But because the odds of a plane crash are so small, we continue to board planes every day to get from A to B.

When lobby groups and politicians call for something not to occur unless it is guaranteed to be absolutely safe, then they are really calling for it to be banned because they don’t like it. There is no industry or activity that can ever be totally safe.

For decades the industry in New Zealand has run largely unnoticed. There have been no major incidents and the last death was in 1996. Few industries can claim such a record. Block offers have passed us all by without a hikoi in sight, and hydraulic fracturing has been carried out for 20 years without a single incident.

20 years, yet some are calling for it to be banned.

The oil and gas industry is no Johnny-come-lately. It has been a part of the economy for more than 100 years, is the country’s fourth largest exporter and provides 7000 well-paid jobs nationwide.

I wonder how many people would be without a job in a New Zealand with no mining and no drilling? A lot.

In Taranaki we have become part of the community. And the benefits of successful finds can be seen throughout the region.

Don’t just take my word for it, go and visit Taranaki. Go down to the local pub or club, find some of the industry workers and chat to them about the oil and gas industry; about the jobs they and many of their family have; about the swimming pool sponsored by Todd Energy; or this year’s children’s book festival sponsored by Origin.

It is very easy for people in Auckland and Wellington to demand an end to certain industries, because they are not large employers in cities. But go out to Taranaki or the West Coast, and you’ll see how important they are to regional economies.

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Herald on Fracking

April 3rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The inquiry into fracking being undertaken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is extremely welcome. The technique, under which high-pressure blasts of water, sand and chemicals are used to fracture rock to release gas and oil, has generated a lot of emotion but far too little light. On one side, the Greens have called for a moratorium on fracking despite the lack of conclusive evidence about its ill-effects. On the other, there has been the usual accusation that those opposed to such new practices are Luddites, and the Energy and Resources Minister’s unhelpful statement that “the Greens want a moratorium on everything”. Both sides of the argument stand to gain much from a science-based investigation.

The statement “the Greens want a moratorium on everything” may be unhelpful but it is not without a degree of truth. I recall compiling the list of things they want banned and stopping once it made 100. That was in 2008. I suspect it has grown since then, and they never take things off the list.

Here’s the challenge for the Greens, if they want to be taken seriously on this issue. If the PCE inquiry finds no reason to ban fracking, will the Greens change their policy of wanting a moratorium?

Further can the Greens point to any data or factors which would ever cause them to change their stance on fracking?

As far as I can tell they would only stop opposing fracking if it is proven to be totally safe. Now of course it is absolutely impossible to prove something is totally safe.

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Fracking inquiry

March 29th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Both sides of the fracking debate are welcoming news of an official and independent investigation.

Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, announced the investigation yesterday.

Preliminary work on hydraulic fracturing, the process of pumping water and chemicals into wells to release oil and gas, had indicated there was a need for an examination, she said.

“Over the next few months my staff and I will conduct this investigation and produce a report to Parliament,” she said.

The report would be presented before the end of the year, she said.

But while the move is what Taranaki’s strongest opponents of hydraulic fracturing have long called for, they say a moratorium is still needed in this region while the investigation is under way.

The PCE inquiry is not a bad thing. The PCE tends to generally take a robust science based approach to issues.

The sad reality is though that opponents of fracking will remain implacably opposed to it regardless of what the PCE says. Their call for a moratorium is in fact a call for a permanent ban. I bet you there will never ever be a day when they say the moratorium should be lifted.

I also predict that the PCE will probably say there is no proof that fracking causes harm, but they can not prove it doesn’t do bad stuff, and opponents will seize on the inability to prove a negative as a reason for it to be banned.

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More anti-science from the Greens

February 22nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jared Smith at Stuff reports:

Opponents of the oil drilling practice of fracking are unmoved by a report showing the controversial process does not cause earthquakes.

The GNS Science study – commissioned by Taranaki Regional Council – was released yesterday in response to growing public and media scrutiny of fracking.

“There is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities in Taranaki between 2000 and mid-2011 have triggered, or have had any observable effect on, natural earthquake activity,” the conclusion states.

Neither would there be any earthquake caused by long-term deep injection activities.

The earthquake study follows TRC’s report last year stating fracking posed no meaningful risk of contaminating Taranaki fresh water.

However, Gareth Hughes, Green Party spokesman on energy and fracking, said the process should be halted “in the interests of caution”, including an investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for the environment.

Once the Greens decide something is bad, no amount of science can convince them otherwise.

TRC’s director of environment quality Gary Bedford said fracking is a slow process and being 4km underground the rock creates a “back pressure”.

“You can’t get a runaway fracking activity,” he said.

Fracking causes a “shift trigger” in the earth of a few millimetres, whereas an earthquake along a fault line would travel hundreds and thousands of miles, Mr Bedford said.

“There’s no sensible comparison between the two.

But plenty of unsensible comparisons.

GNS studied 3300 earthquakes in Taranaki from 2000-2011, focusing on areas within 10km of any fracking location and occurring within three months of fracking activity. Only one quake – at Kaimiro near Inglewood – happened right on the 10km boundary and it happened three months later.

Mr Bedford said Kaimiro was an active fault line and earthquakes had happened before fracking took place there.

Who needs GNS with their scientific witchcraft? How dare they actually do a scientific study? The Greens have spoken and said fracking is bad. It must be stopped immediately, because they know best.

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Giggle

January 25th, 2012 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

Headline in The Press:

Plea for Canty fracking moratorium

But how will they repopulate Christchurch with a fracking moratorium?

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Great headline

November 8th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Southland Times proclaims:

Labour wants inquiry into fracking

Fans of Battlestar Galactica will share my amusement. Those who are not, can check the urban dictionary.

I’m wondering who will head up the inquiry?

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