Three things you shouldn’t miss this week
- Article: From polls to protests, the shale gas industry is its own worst enemy – a week from hell for the shale gas industry.
- Chart: “Disclosure of early thinking could close down discussion” – what’s left of Defra’s fracking impact report:
- Chart: UK public back renewables over shale – DECC’s survey of energy technologies:
The government’s case for shale looked increasingly shaky last week as a draft Defra report on the potential impact of fracking in rural areas was released with most crucial information simply removed.
The justification? “Disclosure of early thinking could close down discussion”. Given the ranging concerns on fracking — from health and safety to environmental impact — this lack of openness is far from reassuring, particularly given regular reports of safety issues from the US where the industry is now in full swing.
The government’s position on shale stands increasingly at odds with public opinion – according to the Coalition’s own polling data, support for fracking has fallen 5% since March. An industry-sponsored poll claiming the opposite was roundly criticised on methodological grounds.
Industry enthusiasm for shale gas in the UK highlights the desperate state of traditional fossil energy as more accessible resources, including North Sea oil, dwindle. While it is true that fracking has temporarily revitalised US oil production after years of decline, recently released data from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) shows that this rejuvenation has beenfuelled by debt. Data for 127 major oil and natural gas companies shows the gap between cash earnings from operations and expenditure increased from $18bn in 2010 to $110bn in the past three years. The cost of producing oil is soaring while a fragile global economy keeps prices pegged around $100/barrel.
The oil and gas industry is unsustainable environmentally, and increasingly unsustainable economically. It’s time to get off fossil fuels.
Related Reports and Commentary
Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts by [Redacted], Rural Community Policy Unit, Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
IEA report implies US crude production may start to peak 2016 – Matt Mushalik
Guest blog: Hamilton has it right on oil – Steven Kopits Managing Director of Princeton Energy Advisors, LLC