British newspaper, The Guardian, is running a game-changer of a story that the European Union has re-branded gas as green energy. The uber pro-green national daily decries this a “Victory for gas lobby” and claims €80bn of EU innovation program money will now go to more shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.’
The respected International Energy Agency has been swift to declare this a new “golden age for gas” predicting that gas ‘fracking’ will now triple by 2035. Analysts see this as the defining moment when international policymakers irrevocably switch from pro-green concerns in favor of more pressing economic needs for cheaper energy.
Fracking is the process of pressurized extraction of natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking allows natural gas extraction in shale that was once unreachable with conventional technologies. One of the biggest advances in drilling technology is the innovative use of three-dimensional imaging to help engineers pinpoint the precise locations for drilling.
Also, by a process of horizontal drilling (along with traditional vertical drilling) precise injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids may be made into the shale beds. This opens new channels within the rock from which natural gas is extracted at higher than traditional rates. This advanced drilling process can take several weeks as boreholes go down more than a mile into the Earth’s surface. Extraction engineers encase the spent borehole with cement to ensure groundwater protection. Industry experts say there is low and acceptable risk of groundwater contamination from chemicals added to the fracking fluids. Some environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are furiously opposed to this EU U-turn insisting the fracking innovation can never be truly “green.”
The Frack Off website is proclaiming, ““Fracking is a nightmare! Toxic and radioactive water pollution. Tap water you can set on fire. Earthquakes. Runaway climate change. To produce expensive gas that will soon run out. So why are we doing it?”
The EU announcement coincides with the once pro-green Spanish government also abandoning the green energy lobby. In Britain shale gas exploration is at a very early stage. So far Cuadrilla Resources has conducted test drilling in Lancashire. But hopes are high that Britain can follow fracking successes in the United States where, according to the International Energy Agency, US energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide have fallen 450m tonnes over the past five years.
Both Cuadrilla and independent sources confirm there is possibly more than 200 trillion cubic feet of “shale” gas in the Bowland basin, which could result in a Lancashire gas boom creating 5,600 jobs at peak production.