So hydraulic fracturing won’t make the Blackpool Tower fall down, after all. Despite the best efforts of the deep green lobby to scare us into thinking that fracking means cracking (of buildings) the semi-official answer is that it doesn’t. The earthquakes it caused in Lancashire were too small to be felt by people or structures, and similar to the tiny shifts caused by all other extractive industries.
Well, hallelujah. It becomes clearer by the day that the answer to Britain’s future energy needs is natural gas, and the advent of fracking means that we can find our own. This is not good news for wannabe wind subsidy farmers, or for the oligopolistic suppliers in Russia and the Middle East. They now face the prospect of pricing to compete with production that need not travel vast distances to find a market. If you think this is a gross exaggeration, consider that the Cuadrilla drillers reckon they have already found the equivalent of 70 years’ current consumption. And that’s before we’ve started seriously looking for the stuff.
There are sufficient reserves in America to make the US self-sufficient in energy once again, while coming over the horizon is the intriguing prospect of applying the same fracking technique to oil. This process is in its infancy, but the technology is advancing briskly; drilling for oil and gas is sometimes likened to pushing on the end of a piece of spaghetti, and the idea of commanding the drill bit to turn south at 5000 metres would have seemed science fiction little more than a decade ago. Horizontal drilling, allowing the exploitation of thin reservoirs from one platform, is now commonplace.
You might have thought that the Department of Energy & Climate Change would welcome the prospect of abundant, relatively clean, home-grown energy, but if you thought that, you haven’t been paying attention. Although DECC commissioned the new report, its prejudice shows through on its website.Rather than simply publish the findings, its news story invites comments on “recommendations from independent experts”. Here’s a hint why: the department’s chief scientific adviser, David Mackay, is the author of “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air”. I’d imagine that the findings of this report make him green about the gills.