Fracking headlines

January 23, 2014

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist

Nafeez Ahmed, Earth Insight Blog, The Guardian
From North America to Europe, the ‘national security’ apparatus is being bought off by Big Oil to rout peaceful activism.

Over the last year, a mass of shocking evidence has emerged on the close ties between Western government spy agencies and giant energy companies, and their mutual interests in criminalising anti-fracking activists.

Activists tarred with the same brush
In late 2013, official documents obtained under freedom of information showed that Canada’s domestic spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), had ramped up its surveillance of activists opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project on ‘national security’ grounds. The CSIS also routinely passed information about such groups to the project’s corporate architect, Calgary-based energy company, Enbridge.

The Northern Gateway is an $8 billion project to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to the British Columbia coast, where it can be shipped to global markets. According to the documents a Canadian federal agency, the National Energy Board, worked with CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to coordinate with Enbridge, TransCanada, and other energy corporations in gathering intelligence on anti-fracking activists – despite senior police privately admitting they "could not detect a direct or specific criminal threat."

Now it has emerged that former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl – the man appointed by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper to head up the CSIS’ civilian oversight panel, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) – has been lobbying for Enbridge since 2011.

But that’s not all. According to CBC News, only one member of Strahl’s spy watchdog committee "has no ties to either the current government or the oil industry." For instance, SIRC member Denis Losier sits on the board of directors of Enbridge-subsidiary, Enbridge NB, while Yves Fortier, is a former board member of TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline…
(21 January 2014)

Eni Is Said to Abandon Polish Shale Aspirations

Stanley Reed, New York Times
Eni, the Italian oil giant, is giving up on producing natural gas from shale rock in Poland, not long ago considered the most promising country in Europe for the new fuel source.

Eni has allowed two of its three shale gas exploration licenses in Poland to expire and is likely to allow the third to lapse, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The acreage, acquired in 2010, had not produced enough gas to be commercially viable, the person said.

Other companies have made similar comments about their initial drilling efforts. Exxon Mobil ended its Polish shale gas exploration efforts in 2012; Marathon Oil said it was leaving last year. Chevron is one of the few major players still interested in Poland.

“The geology has not worked out,” said Paul Stevens, an oil analyst at Chatham House, a research institute based in London….
(17 January 2014)

Oil and gas: A new frontier

Lucy Hornby and Ed Crooks, Financial Times
Western energy companies are flocking to China to help unlock its shale reserves…Yet progress has been slow….
(7 January 2014)

Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition

Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Shale gas executives and government officials collaborated in private to manage the British public’s hostility to fracking, emails released under freedom of information rules reveal.

Officials shared pre-prepared statements with the industry last year before major announcements and hosted high-level dinners with "further discussion over post-dinner drinks", while the industry shared long lists of "stakeholders" to be targeted. Critics said the government was acting as an arm of the gas industry" and was guilty of cheerleading, but officials defended the discussionsaid facilitating discussions was "right and proper" as "right and proper".

The emails, sent throughout 2013, are often chatty, with summer holidays discussed, and in one case the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) apologises to the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG): "Sorry to raise your blood pressure on this subject again, no expletives please!" following a discussion of contentious policy points. In another email, UKOOG’s chief executive, Ken Cronin, tells Duarte Figueira, head of Decc’s office of unconventional gas and oil: "Thanks for a productive meeting (it’s like being set homework)."…
(17 January 2014)

A challenge to the UK shale gas industry

James Murray, Business Green
With a crushing predictability the Prime Minister’s confirmation the UK is "going all out for shale gas" has sparked a fiercely divided reaction, as battle lines have once again been drawn between whose who wish to see a moratorium on all fracking everywhere and those who insist onshore oil and gas offers a panacea to our myriad economic, energy, and environmental woes. Meanwhile, those who argue that it is still too early to determine whether shale gas is either hero, villain, distraction or non-event have once again struggled to make their voices heard.

As a climate hawk, I’d argue it is these climate impacts that should ultimately determine the future of the UK’s shale gas industry. Yes, local environmental impacts are important and projects should only more forward at appropriate locations where these impacts are minimised. But all forms of energy generation have local impacts, be it the visual impact of wind farms, the air pollution impact of coal and gas plants, or the water impact of gas wells on the Russian Steppes or the American plains. If the UK is going to continue to use gas for the foreseeable future, and like it or not we are, there will be local environmental impacts somewhere. It is nimbyism to argue they should not be here.

The key point is that if the UK shale gas industry wants to be taken seriously as a player in the transition to a genuine low carbon economy – and there are people inside both the industry and government who sincerely claim they want this to be the case – then it has to offer much firmer assurances that it will indeed enable a sharp net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The fact that the UK shale gas industry has failed to take an overtly public stance on any of these issues tells you all you need to know about its commitment to aiding the UK’s decarbonisation efforts…
(13 January 2014)

The US shale boom is overhyped

Jeremy Leggett, China Dialogue
A growing number of analysts familiar with the detailed state of the global oil and gas industry fear that the almost universally positive narrative about hydrocarbon supply from shale is deeply flawed, and that in fact a global oil crisis might be imminent. In December, 2013, I was part of a video-linked gathering in Washington and London of people sympathetic to this view. Those joining us included retired military officers, security experts, senior executives from a wide spectrum of industry and politicians of all the main parties, including two former UK ministers.

Mark Lewis, a former head of energy research at Deutsche Bank led off the discussion suggesting that three big warning signs in the oil industry point to a counter-narrative of impending problems for supply: high decline rates, soaring capital expenditure and falling exports…
(20 January 2014)

Tags: energy industry, Energy Policy, Fracking, Politics, Shale gas, shale gas hype, tight oil