Fracking: The problem regulating an unpredictable industry

Fracking, eh… This is just one of the issues we’re likely to see come up at the Fermanagh G8… We plan to do more on the subject, but in the meantime here’s a story from Oklahoma… tks put you off your cornflakes…

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  • As (non-technical — send for Mr Baker) I understands it, the Oklahoma earthquake swarm was most likely linked to oil extraction — not fracking.

    That doesn’t mean that fracking isn’t nasty stuff, of course.

    By the way, interesting letter in yesterday’s [London] Times. There had been a previous article (by Alice Thomson) on the closure of Didcot coal-fired power station. Now Dr Bill Temple-Pediani was responding, commenting on how the UK government is focused on “big” generating facilities, but arguing instead that smaller units producing Combined Heat and Power [CHP: everything has to be acronymed] are more efficient.

    The coal-fired generator, the good doctor argues, is 40-45% efficient in producing just electricity. In “CHP mode” that climbs to 85-90% efficiency. So the “dirty” coal CHP scheme emits less carbon per unit than “clean” gas. Which, he suggests, is why the continental operators (Germany in particular) are building new coal-fired plants.

    That’s not an approach I had seen before.

    Somehow I recall Nye Bevan (24th May 1945):

    This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.

  • It is the extraction of oil or gas using lots of pumped water (i.e. fracking) that produces lots of waste water that needs disposal: more than in traditional oil wells.

    The article shows how the careless disposal of the waste water leads to earthquakes, even when the actual extraction is done under tightly controlled conditions.