Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Should we ban fracking?

It can be argued that the earth has plenty of reserves of energy. We have enough coal for many many years and gas and oil are plentiful too. This may mean that we have to search further and further afield to get to these reserves but they are there. Then it can be argued that the date when we run out of fossil fuels can be put back because we will use other forms of energy like nuclear. Well there are much less reserves of uranium but they'll help to keep our lights on until the day we invent new forms of energy even if there are significant disadvantages to using nuclear fuels or for that matter to using fossil fuels.

Regardless of the advantages and disadvantages we see everything as viable if it costs less than the alternative, and as cheaper sources of energy go, the oil and gas produced by fracking is viable. Well it is if you believe the Cuadrilla Resources, the company involved in fracking in the UK. At the moment fracking is banned in the UK because it was blamed for two earth tremors in the north west in 2011. If you pump water and chemicals into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas then there must be at least a possibility of an earthquake. However earthquakes occur at any time at any place so I suppose Cuadrilla can blame the earth moving on an act of God.

Whether we have Cuadrilla supplying us with gas and oil depends on the cost. On Sunday their spokesperson said "Britain is spending tens of billions of pounds importing gas...We don't have infinite patience and our investors don't have infinite patience." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20571700 In general economic terms, we don't want the company to lose patience because they are hoping to provide us with cheaper fuel. However if those two earthquakes are down to fracking then I presume that the company would have to pay for any damage.

I live in Morecambe and I felt one of those earthquakes that came from Blackpool where the drilling was taking place. If you need some pointing doing then there would be a small cost. If a new wall is needed for your house then costs would be significant. Drilling has not been going on for long but I have never felt any other earthquakes and I have always lived in the north west.

It seems that money is the big motivation for energy policy. I think there are more important considerations like the damage to the environment but even if you don't agree with me then you have to quantify the affect of driving water at high pressure into rocks that may move and then give that bill to the company.

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