Fracking Myths

by Philip Carr-Gomm

FRACKING MYTHS – COPY AND DISTRIBUTE ANY WAY YOU LIKE – Created by the Lewes Against Fracking group

Myth # 1 Fracking will give us energy independence

Untrue. It will not supply petrol or diesel so we will still import oil.  It is also unclear how much gas they will be able to usefully extract. The best approach to energy independence is promoting renewables as they are completely home grown.

Myth # 2: It will give us lower bills

Untrue  – says UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey. In the US bills came down because their gas is easier to find: the reserves in the UK are very deep and the costs of extraction are likely to be high, about twice as high as in USA. Also the market here is rigged and subject to EU regulation.

Myth # 3: Fracking will create lots of jobs

Untrue.  After the initial set up the need for staff is minimal and anyway they tend to bring in their own staff, often from overseas.

Myth# 4: Fracking will enrich the local community

Untrue. The £100k given to the community will cover a pedestrian crossing, and do nothing to compensate for the threat to house values.

Myth# 5: it is hardly noticeable

Nonsense.  Drilling is 24/7 and noisy; the site is floodlit; heavy lorries are coming and going often.

Myth # 6: Fracking does not use hazardous chemicals

Untrue.  Fracking requires the use of Hydrochloric acid and biocides, classified as hazardous by the UK government.

Myth # 7: Over 200 wells in the UK have been fracked with no problem

This is entirely misleading. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in much smaller non-shale applications, using different technology. The government is unable to confirm that 200 wells have been drilled due to insufficient information. The fracking projects now being proposed for the UK involve more invasive and potentially harmful processes.

Myth # 8: The UK regulatory framework is very tight

Untrue: fracking companies currently self-assess as to the safety of their activities. At Preese Hall (first UK fracking site) there was not a single visit from either the Environment Agency or Health & Safety Executive, and Cuadrilla fractured a well case (which they did not report to the EA), overran their planning permission and produced highly radioactive waste.

Myth # 9: It will give us lower emissions

Untrue. Fracking releases methane, a greenhouse gas over 20 times more damaging than CO2. The system leaks in many ways and this undoes the advantages of burning gas instead of coal. Also large amounts are simply burnt off as gas flares at the well head creating emissions for no gain.

Myth # 10: It is inevitable – nothing we can do

Untrue. The same was argued about the Poll Tax and selling off the forests, and yet public opposition forced the government into a climb-down.

Want to know more or want to check validity of these statements and check sources? See below:

More detail and sources 

Myth #1 see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking

Myth #2 1] What decides what you gas bill is can be complex.  Moreover the situation in England has its own characteristics. As you have probably noticed, our bills don’t generally fall when world energy prices come down – although they do generally go up when the world energy prices rise.  So even if fracking produced cheaper gas, it would not mean that we would get cheaper bills – the likelihood is that energy companies, particularly the fracking companies, would make huge profits.

2] But USA prices came down… Yes but the situation in USA is different.  Firstly the extraction costs of fracked gas are about half what they are likely to be in Europe [see references already given].  Secondly the market operates differently in the USA: the energy companies compete more. Thirdly, whereas in UK we are very close to a source of gas [Norway] which is cheap to extract and to transport here, the USA is further away

See [1] http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/uk-shale-gas-no-get-out-of-jail-free-card/ and http://www.shalegas-europe.eu/en/docs/E&Y_Shale-gas-in-Europe_revolution-or-evolution.pdf and

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/baseless-economics-lord-stern-on-david-camerons-claims-that-a-uk-fracking-boom-can-bring-down-price-of-gas-8796758.html

Myth #3: fracking will create lots of jobs

1] security staff at Balcombe are Gurkhas brought in on peanuts wages

2] once the rig is up and running the plant is fairly automatic and requires only a handful of staff.  The skilled jobs will be brought in as unlikely to be locally available and hence there may be a few unskilled jobs available.

3] if instead the same resources were applied to renewable energy, the number of jobs created would be much greater since green energy is far more labour intensive – one of the reasons big companies do not like it: less profit

4] fracking may have a negative impact on the local tourist trade – the area as a tourist attraction is hardly likely to benefit from fracking wells rather people are more likely to go elsewhere.

See www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/fracking-nonsense-the-jobmyth-of-gas-drilling

or http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/myth-busting/myth-2-fracking-and-jobs/ or

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/sep/25/climate.jobs

Myth#4: fracking will enrich the locals  see http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jun/23/fracking-undermine-valuehome

Myth#5: it is hardly noticeable

evidence – my own eyes and ears from having spent a night at Balcombe and see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10294482/Cuadrillas-Balcombe-drilling-may-have-broken-noise-rules.html and http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10662407.Fracking_firm_stops_drilling_in_Balcombe_after__rattling__noise_complaints/

Myth #6 they do not use hazardous chemicals

See http://www.cuadrillaresources.com/what-we-do/hydraulic-fracturing/fracturingfluid/ and http://www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/challenge-on-gas-fracking?s1=fracking

Myth # 7 they have fracked before in over 200 wells with no problem.

What they are proposing now is Slick Water Hydraulic Fracturing of shale which is different from anything done so far.

See DECC discussion on http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/myth-busting/myth-11-fracking-has-been-done-in-the-uk-for-decades/

Myth #8: see http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1347 and http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/investigations/foi-documents-reveal-confusion-over-shale-regulation and http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=news&issue=1346 and

Myth #9: Although burning methane itself is cleaner than burning coal, the extraction process itself is unclean.  Methane leaks through the pipes and through the casings and at every part of the transportation process. Although leakage occurs in all mining, the leakage of methane is more significant since it is such a powerful greenhouse gas – estimates vary that it is between 20 and 120 times more potent than CO2.  This means that even small leakages have large effects.  Additionally, the act of fracking itself causes seepage – this is where the fracked rocks tend to leak into the surrounding substrata, and this then eventually finds its way out. A US Govt backed report described the leakage rates of fracking as ‘alarmingly high’

See http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5.pdf or https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/5292/switching-coal-natural-gas-would-do-little-global-climate-study-indicates

Myth #10: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Charge and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12488847

And see http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/09/why-fracking-not-solution

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