Shell sounds cynical note on shale gas

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Energy, Environment, United Kingdom
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shale gas: it is the panacea. It will be our saving. It has already saved the US – or least falling gas prices as a result of the shale gas revolution is cited by many economists as the main reason why the US economy is performing so well relative to the UK and Europe.
So there is only one thing for it. Let’s have shale gas in the UK.

It is just that there are downsides. What about this idea that fracking (the process used to extract shale gas) causes earthquakes? What about the idea that it forces methane into the water supply? That’s not something that is usually considered a good idea – at least not if you think good health is a positive thing.

Supporters of shale gas say it is cleaner on the atmosphere and is not associated with as many carbon dioxide emissions as traditional oil and coal. Critics say yes but it is linked with methane emissions which are even more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

But cut though the rhetoric and the points seem unproven on both sides. Exactly how much shale gas is there in the UK, and how practical is it to get at?

Let’s face it the UK is just a tad more crowded than the US.

Well Royal Dutch Shell has entered the debate, and it is cynical – or at least it is yet to be won over.

The ‘Telegraph’ quoted Simon Henry, Shell’s chief financial officer, as saying: “We have a successful and growing business in North America, we have great opportunities in China, Ukraine and Russia…The UK has to compete directly with them and right now nobody even knows whether the gas will flow.”

He added: “We are not going to just throw more strategic capital allocation into the business because the UK, or any other country for that matter, feels it’s a good thing. If and when the UK reaches the same level of potential attractiveness, we’ll give it a thought.”
So he is not saying no; he is just saying let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Unfortunately with shale gas a lot of people have been doing that.

Here is a question: why are so many politicians so anti wind farms because of the negative impact they have on the aesthetic quality of the environment? Why are they so pro shale gas even though in an island as small as this, shale gas sites threaten to ruin the appearance of some of the UK’s most beautiful areas?

Is it that no one is talking about shale gas or fracking in Surrey or Hampshire, but they are talking about wind farms in these counties?

© Investment & Business News 2013

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