Monthly Archives: June 2011

ITV WALES coverage of the Fracking issue last night + GASLAND showing in Llantwit

ITV Website: “People campaigning against plans to drill for gas supplies locked deep under south Wales, are meeting in the Vale of Glamorgan tonight.”

Refers to the public showing of GASLAND in Llantwit last night. It was great to see Sarah Woods from the COOPERATIVE there, having come all the way from mid Wales, to endorse the film (the Co-op are the UK distributors) and to support and encourage the campaign in South Wales. With their backing we hope to have much bigger events in Bridgend and Swansea before long. Gerwyn Williams (Coastal Oil & Gas) is stating to spread nonsense about GASLAND being withdrawn, such is his desperation for us not to show it and you all not to watch it!! Tough luck Gerwyn, you will have to try a lot harder than that!

It was also good to see several people from the Maesteg area and from as far east as Newport and as far West as Swansea in attendance, along with several of the Bridgend Party regulars. Thank you all.

Also in attendance was Radio Wales who took quite extensive interviews with Louise Evans, Sarah Woods and myself (Andy). If anyone listens to Radio Wales, let me know if you here anything on fracking in the next few days.

There was also good coverage in the Gem newspaper, and last but not least, a nice piece on the ITV Wales 6.00pm bulletin last night, that you can see here:

http://www.itv.com/wales/fracking-plans-concern-vale-residents28637/

IMPORTANT FRACKING BREAKTHROUGH

“The leader of a council where exploration firms want to test drill for lucrative shale gas has urged the First Minister to personally intervene over the highly controversial issue. Councillor Gordon Kemp, leader of Vale of Glamorgan council, wrote to Carwyn Jones asking the Welsh Government to take responsibility in planning matters relating to the exploration and exploitation of shale gas reserves.

Coun Kemp said a national Welsh framework policy needed to be drawn up by the Government to guide councils about whether drilling for the gas should be allowed.”

South Wales Echo today
Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/cardiffonline/cardiff-news/2011/06/15/calls-for-welsh-government-to-take-control-of-south-wales-gas-reserves-91466-28880099/#ixzz1PMlQpIqG

This has been part of what I have been saying from the outset, so well done VoGCBC!
Better late than never.
At last we have some serious acknowledgement, from within the system, that fracking is an issue that cannot be properly handled under the existing planning framework.

Coun Kemp should be applauded for refusing to be the scapegoat when things go wrong down the line.

It is obvious to just about all, bar fudgemeister Tim Yeo, that the only sane thing to do about fracking is impose a moratorium while the ramifications are definitively established by recognisably independent experts.

We are getting there, slowly but surely!! Everyone in Bridgend should write to their illustrious AM, Carwyn Jones, and make sure he grasps the nettle, as Bridgend is the epicentre of the area threatened by the fracking menace.

Andy

Thousands of fracking wellheads across South Wales?

Hi Andy, Would you have any figures on how many rigs, compression stations etc that would be need to service the S Wales region if they went full scale?
Cheers
Dylan

Hi Dylan,

I presume you are referring to the figures mentioned on the video from Tara, Queensland, with regards to spacing of well heads.
This showed the current spacing on that estate at 750m apart, but with a planned spacing into the future of 400m apart.

Extrapolating these to the licenced areas of South Wales is fairly simple maths. If you look at the PEDL map ( https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/information/bb_updates/maps/landfields_lics.pdf ) you will see that the licences are for 10km squares for the most part and it is easy enough to count 14 whole squares with a few bits and pieces left over to make up a bit more than one more. So let us call it 15.

10km = 10,000m so at 750m apart we would have 13
A 10km x 10 km would therefore have 13 x 13 well heads = 170
15 such squares = 170 x 15 = 2550 across the whole region.

At 400m intervals, the sums become 25 per 10km
25 x 25 per 10km square = 625
And 625 x 15 gives 9375 across the whole region!!!!!

The required density of well heads would depend on local conditions, being higher on shale beds than coal beds for a start. The 750m interval would match what we see in much of the Gasland movie and would seem to be reasonable and realistic of any attempt to optimise extraction in South Wales, in my opinion.

The bottom line is that South Wales is facing the prospect of thousands of well heads. And all will be perfectly executed and safely operated? Insane or what!

Hope to see you Thursday.

Andy

Collated fracking notes on earthquakes and frack fluid

EARTHQUAKESFREQUENCY OF OCCURRENCE OF MAINLAND UK EARTHQUAKES (BASED ON OBSERVATIONS BETWEEN 1989 AND 2009)

Magnitude(ML) Average
5.0 and higher every 8 yrs
4 – 4.9 every 2 yrs
3 – 3.9 3/yr
2 – 2.9 26/yr
1 – 1.9 140/yr

http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/education/faqs/faq6.html

Here in South Wales we get several of the 1.5 magnitude quakes (imperceptible to people) that caused Cuadrilla to stop fracking near Blackpool every year, along with a couple of the barely perceptible 2-2.9 category. In the Lifespan a fracking operation, we would almost certainly experience several 3-3.9 and be quite likely to see something more significant too (see below). This is irrespective of any role that the actual fracking might have in increasing earthquake incidence and severity.

As for more detail on South Wales:

In South Wales, on the other hand, although a line of epicentres of significant events can be traced from Pembroke (an earthquake in 1892) to Newport (active in 1974), only the Swansea area shows consistent recurrence, with significant earthquakes occurring in 1727, 1775, 1832, 1868 and 1906. (Given this periodicity it may be that a further earthquake in this area is due in the near future.) http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/hazard/Hazard_UK.htm#space (again)

This line of significant epicentres goes straight through the licenced areas the frackers have their sights on.

See map here: http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/hazard/Hazard_UK.htm#space

This map shows that there were known earthquakes in the Fylde area where Cuadrilla have ground to a halt. The stakes are so high they will always take the risk. They bank on catastrophe not happening until after they are out of the area. But they know it can always happen and, as with BP in the Gulf recently, have large contingency funds and such massive profits that they can just shrug it off in next to no time.

The whole safety case of fracking operations rests on the integrity of the well casings – made largely of ……. Cement! Ignoring the near practical impossibility of lining boreholes that are many hundreds of meters long and bent with cement that has no weak spots or imperfections, cement is hardly renowned for its flexibility and ability to withstand shocks, so given the shocks induced by the explosions used in fracking and the whole scale shock waves of natural seismic activity, who gives any credence to the guarantees of operators whose merest sense of responsibility causes them to shut down operations after a piddly 1.5 quake?

Remember, the Richter scale is a logarithmic scale. Scale 2 is 10 time the size of a scale 1. Scale 3 is ten times scale 2, or 100 times scale 1, etc.

FRACK CHEMICALS

Cuadrilla downplay the nastiness of their frack fluid: http://www.cuadrillaresources.com/what-we-do/technology/fracturing-fluid/
Look more closely at what they say. “The fracing fluids used by Cuadrilla is 99.75% composed of fresh water and sand. This water and sand combination is supplemented with microscopic amounts of everyday chemicals typically found in peoples homes.” ; would you go around drinking the things under you sink or in your shed or garage?

They list the ingredients thus:

  • 99.75% = Water and sand
  • 00.125% = Hydrochloric acid
  • 00.075% = Polyacrylamides
  • 00.005% = Biocide

Firstly, do the math. That adds up to a mere 99.955%. Leaving 0.045% completely unaccounted for. The list of candidates is extensive and nasty. Some are listed here: http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing

Makes you wonder when they list hydrochloric acid openly. This is known to have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrochloric_acid#Safety

As for polyacrimides, concerns have been raised that polyacrylamides in the environment may contaminate food with the nerve toxin acrylamide. While polyacrylamide itself is relatively non-toxic, it is known that commercially available polyacrylamide contains minute residual amounts of acrylamide remaining from its production, usually less than 0.05% w/w. Additionally, there are concerns that polyacrylamides may de-polymerise to form acrylamide. In dilute aqueous solution, such as is commonly used for Enhanced Oil Recovery applications (and fracking!), polyacrylamide polymers are susceptible to chemical, thermal, and mechanical degradation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyacrylamide

As for biocide! What do you need to know beyond the fact that the term covers anything that kills living things!!

Returning to Cuadrilla’s own words: “Upon returning to the surface, they [frack fluids] are stored in steel tanks and at no point come in contact with the ground. In the unlikely event that any liquid was spilt on the surface, seepage at ground level is prevented by the installation of an impermeable membrane on land at and surrounding the well site.”
Bloody hell!! They do sound dangerous, don’t they? Expensive precautions for something we are not supposed to worry about, wouldn’t you say?


Frickin Frackin Blues + FREE Gasland showing

Yet another way of getting the anti-fracking message across to a wider audience. Spread it far and wide.

http://www.broadjam.com/transmit/index.php?txygnbz=3997&chkldsxv1=A53E7D8D14&yhgbndsq=1

Just to confirm, the meeting on the Thursday 16th has been postponed to allow people to attend the free showing of GASLAND at the Llatonian Hall in Llantwit Major. Film starts at 7.30pm. This event is courtesy of the Vale Says No! / No Fracking UK campaign groups and the Co-operative.

A Co-operative officer will be in attendance on Thursday and one of the things I am working on with her is a high profile event, centred on the GASLAND film, in Bridgend sometime soon. So if you cannot get to Llantwit this week, you will get another chance to see the film – quite possibly in the brand new state of the art theatre at Bridgend College. Watch this space.

Directory of anti-fracking groups worldwide

Not comprehensive – but still quite an  impressive list. The video from Australia gives a glimpse of what South Wales will look like when the frackers get in their stride.
AUSTRALIA:

  • Why Tara is Blockading QGC – The Tara Blockade of Coal Seam Gas Company QGC

The Residents of the Tara Estate near Chinchilla, Queensland have decided enough is enough and are blockading QGC from entering their estate. They have Locked Their Gates.

NEW ZEALAND:

Frack Free Aotearoa https://www.facebook.com/groups/186342878145351/

CANADA:

FRANCE:

GERMANY:

IRELAND:

http://nofrackingireland.wordpress.com/

SOUTH-AFRICA:

SWEDEN:

UK:

USA:

Living the Drill (This is a registry for anyone, anywhere in the world, whose water, air quality, land, business, health, or community has been adversely affected by gas drilling or gas pipelines. Read their stories here)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Living-the-Drill/144221602300131

Fracking hell! The stakes may have been raised – but the issues are exactly the same

Excellent coverage in the South Wales Echo today, with Fracking taking up pages 1-5. Good balance to the coverage with Comment by me on page 5 (see earlier posting).Not such good balance to the coverage in the Western Mail today (front page + pgs 6&7), and online. This represents a propaganda coup for the principal South Wales frackers, Eden Energy and the Bridgend based Coastal Oil & Gas: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/06/11/is-wales-sitting-on-gas-reserves-worth-billions-91466-28859676/#sitelife-commentsWidget-bottom

They promise hundreds of jobs and enough energy to power the whole country for 4 years. Sounds attractive until you realise what that really means.

In terms of jobs, the only way they make such an assertion is on the basis of hundreds of fracking wells. Each well only needs a handful of relatively low grade workers once in operation, with wells being operable for at most 20 years. All the other jobs will be temporary contractors drilling the initial wells, with teams of frackers going around performing their dirty deeds periodically at each site. The GASLAND scenario becomes our reality across the the whole region.

As for the energy claims, they are highly speculative, but just about plausible. 4 years worth of energy (spread over about 20 years), making billions for a few companies (foreign ones will cream off the major share – such as Eden from Australia) but at what cost?

  • A toxic legacy that will be here for generations hence to deal with.
  • A whole spectrum of health and environmental hazardous impacts.
  • Property values decimated.
  • The practical impossibility of meeting our low-carbon future targets.
  • Another rush headlong to the precipice of climate change catastrophes.
  • The postponement of investment in the long term energy security and long term jobs in renewable energies.
  • A short term boost to the exchequer that will further delay the reforms to our economy and banking systems that involve inevitable boom and bust cycles.

The only ones who can support these frackers are those that stand to profit or complete dummies. Profits or people? The classic dilemma. We will get what we vote for. And we all know which side of the dilemma Tory governments (not all Tories, to be fair to Alun Cairns) always end up on. The only way to overcome this is mass public protest. This seems the only way forward.

As for the dummies out there, try this little visual game, courtesy of our French anti-fracking comrades:
FRACKING FOR DUMMIES
http://app.owni.fr/gaz/?lang=en

Responses to Eden Energy’s ‘Gas Bonanza’ press release

Peter Law of the Western Mail/Echo invited me and Louise (Vale Says No campaign) to comment on this report:

http://www.proactiveinvestors.com.au/companies/news/16680/eden-energy-prospective-uk-gas-resources-are-world-class-16680.htm
Entitled : “Eden Energy prospective UK gas resources are world class”

Our responses:

That there is huge potential gas resources under South Wales and several other parts of the UK is not surprising and not really news. It does nothing to alter the arguments against the proposed exploitation of this resource on two principal grounds.
Firstly, in order to extract anywhere near the figures they are quoting they will have to undertake extensive fracking operations all over the region. There will be accidents and mishaps. The consequences of these accidents and mishaps can be immediate and dramatic (blow-outs etc), but even more worrying is the long term insidious consequences as concrete linings and bungs degrade and there are slow seepage of the toxic chemicals over years and decades and longer. The dire consequences of even trace contamination of water supplies with chemicals used are well known and have been witnessed and documented.
Secondly, there is the impact on the whole direction of energy policy. This is a relatively quick fix solution to the growing energy crisis that merely delays the restructuring of our energy resources onto a renewable footing and perpetuates all the damaging consequences of fossil fuel use towards the catastrophes that are ever closer. We have the know how to eliminate the need for fossil fuels altogether – we simply lack the political will and the entrepreneurial imagination to make it happen. This is what Eden Energy need to focus on if their Eden name is to have any meaning.
Andy Chyba

This report is indeed of a concern to us, but it is difficult to decipher what is fact and what is a part of their PR machine. There is nothing to stop Eden from over exaggerating the potential reserves of gas in South Wales to add weight to their argument to drill. Eden are parties with Coastal Oil and Gas, so it is obviously in their interest to publish this report as they have a huge investment already in South Wales. No one knows for sure what is underneath us until they extract it. These are private companies set to make a lot of money out of shale gas, so everything I hear from them is taken with a pinch of salt and a large dose of bias. There is so much evidence linking fracking to some horrendous consequences that we are still convinced that the risks are just far too great!
Louise Evans

Proposed meeting change

We have a scheduled meeting next Thursday, but there is a small problem.

The ValeSaysNo anti-fracking group are having a public showing of GASLAND at the Llantonian Hall in Lllantwit Major that night, by special arrangement with The Co-operative, who could well have one of their officers coming down from mid-Wales to attend.

I feel I need to support this event and would like to encourage as many of you as possible to support it too. If you have not seen the film yet, you should. I can arrange for lifts from Bridgend, and possibly to pick some people up on the way (e.g. Pencoed).

It is likely to be a long evening, but a potentially very important one.

The only very pressing item on the agenda is sorting out details of RESIDENTS SURVEY. John has the printing in hand, and I am sure the likely participants can get together on another evening the following week to sort that out.

So, please respond and let me know if you agree or not to:

  1. Cancel scheduled meeting
  2. Go to Llantwit for the GASLAND film
  3. Make another meeting following week (w/b 20/06) to plan the Residents Survey (tba)

       Andy Chyba
Bridgend Green Party
Blog: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/
Mobile: 078 1066 3241
Email: greens

PS – I WILL TRIAL A MAESTEG MEETING IN JULY IF I GET JUST ONE MORE COMMITMENT TO ATTEND