Been a bit busy of late but a couple of Grauniad headlines still caught the attention over the weekend, starting with the latest update from the increasingly active northern shale gas drilling scene:
Shale gas firm Cuadrilla brands anti-fracking activists ‘irresponsible’ - CEO Francis Egan complains about protesters ‘harassing’ contractors supplying Preston New Road site in Lancashire
Yes, after a very long hiatus the North of England Shale Show is back on the road! Or being hindered by a roadblock, as it would seem, because there’s plenty of pesky opposition – the usual combination of genuinely local nimbys, misinformed ‘ordinary people’ with too much time on their hands, and itinerant swampies now trading as Reclaim The Power. (You’d imagine the hyperventilating hoards of Momentum wouldn’t be far behind, except that they are fully occupied with fratricide just now. And I’m guessing t’unions may have told Corbyn to keep out of it, based on how they made him support nuclear in Copeland.) An enjoyable line in outdoor relief for all concerned (plus overtime for Old Bill) – except for the local contractors.
But shale in the UK never looked to be a near-term phenomenon (we’ve discussed this all before). Even if the reserves are as big as Cuadrilla believe, in broad-spectrum practical terms they just ain’t particularly accessible. A far cry from the USA, where the recent OPEC-driven rise in oil price is, though rather modest by the standards of 2010-2014 prices, more than enough to re-ignite the mighty shale-drilling activity there, oil and gas. This comes as a big shock to legions of idiots who consoled themselves with the thought that shale needed a price of $100 – or was it $80? – or $60? – to be viable. Sorry, but technology doesn’t work like that: it gets better and better, cheaper and cheaper, and always surprises idiots. If in doubt, go short - because there’s always more stuff out there than anyone thinks.
This leads to another mighty quandry for all the antis who thought they could put moral / financial pressure on big companies and pension funds etc, to effect some kind of investment boycott of the fossul fuel industries, and have the authorities mark down oil company oil reserves as worth nothing. Why, the Grauniad itself even tried to run a campaign along these lines. Which brings us to the second headline:
Environmentalists urge French bank not to finance Texas fracking project Activist points to ‘hypocrisy’ in BNP Paribas’s involvement in south Texas export terminal, given bank’s claimed commitment to the environment
Well, sorry guys but shale in the USA is 100% mainstream now and you won’t actually find a major bank or indeed any other financial institution that isn’t already ‘in’. Because, as we know, shale is going to make the USA self-sufficient in energy as far forward as anyone can see, with momentous geo-political implications. And that’s before Venezuela lets rip, because they have more accessible shale oil reserves than Saudi has ‘conventional’ oil. And (when they need the extra reserves) Russia has more gas than the world will ever need.
And the IEA – which is seriously schizophrenic on this issue, BTW – thinks we need much, much more oil … (well, that’s what it thinks this month).
Anyhow, Swampy and Cuadrilla will no doubt continue to slug it out in Lancashire. But they are a sideshow of such small proportions, it’ll make Paul Mason’s had explode one day.