By Paul Homewood
Anybody unsure about the safety of fracking should read this article in the Telegraph in 2013:
Wytch Farm in Dorset is in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But you would be forgiven for not knowing the largest oilfield in western Europe is even there.
Nestled in a pine forest near a nature reserve and on islands off Poole Harbour, the oilfield owned by French company Perenco has been quietly producing thousands of barrels a day since the late 1970s, by means of a form of fracking called ‘water injection’, also known as ‘water flooding’.
At one point the oilfield had the longest horizontal drill in the world and has regularly pumped water into wells to “fracture” the rock and force out oil and gas.
Academics say that this so-called “fracking” has been used on 200 wells across the UK over the last 20 years or so.
Now the controversial technology of ‘hydraulic fracking’ is making headlines around the world. In Balcombe, West Sussex, locals have staged weeks of protests, ending in more than 30 arrests.In contrast, the local community around Wytch Farm appear relaxed about the “discreet” operations happening in the heart of their community.
Tony and Kate Bryan, both retired, from Corfe Castle, the village two miles north of the oilfield, have been on one of the visits to Furzey Island to see the oil refinery in action.
Mr Bryan said occasionally you see a drilling rig poking above the trees or a “nodding donkey” on the coast but most people do not know it is there.
“We have never had any seismic impact that we are aware of and you have to get your oil from somewhere.
“It is all very well saying not in my backyard but it has been very well done.”
Most of the tourists eating ice creams and wandering around the National Trust castle were unaware that “fracking” is going on around the corner.
It certainly does not seem to have affected property prices. In Poole, which looks out on the main offshore activities of Perenco, properties go for millions. Purbeck Property, the local estate agents, said the proximity of an oilfield has not had an adverse effect – yet.
Dean Watts of Purbeck Angling is Chairman of the Carp Angling Protection Society, but he said no fishermen have yet complained about leaks into the groundwater.
He said there are footpaths, bridleways and even fishing ponds close to the main operations in Wytch Farm but it is still quite peaceful “you occasionally hear a whining noise but other than that you wouldn’t know it was there”, he added.
“It is a necessary evil. As long as it not going to affect wildlife or anyone in an adverse way then I say live and let live.”
In Wareham, which is a few miles from Wytch Farm, the concern seems to be more about a proposed wind farm in East Stoke and a massive offshore development off the Jurassic Coast
Even Frack Free Dorset admit that Wytch Farm has not caused environmental problems so far.
But they insist that the long term risk from hydraulic fracking is a serious concern as drilling for oil and gas in the area massively expands and more “shale gas” is discovered.
Peter Style, Professor in Applied and Environmental Geophysics at Keele University, said that fracking first happened in the UK in Lincolnshire in 1988.
He said fracking was mostly used in the UK to get the last out of old oil and gas wells.
“It is not a new technology, we have had 200 wells fracked in England and no one has even noticed.
“You cannot get a nicer place than under Corfe Castle in Poole Bay but no one is phoning up the Government to complain.”
Since 1902 2,152 wells have been drilled in the UK. There are currently 250 to 300 oil and gas wells operating in the UK.
Perenco refused to give details of fracking at Wytch Farm but admitted that hydraulic fracturing happened at the oilfield after it was highlighted in a Royal Society report.
“Well stimulation techniques, and produced water and seawater injection have been used at Wytch Farm for many years,” said a spokesman.
In the next few years, the UK is expecting the biggest acceleration of onshore oil and gas since the Second World War, with tax breaks already announced and 176 licences issued.
Environmentalists are concerned that the drive will push out renewables and risk pushing up carbon emissions.
Richard Davies, Professor of Energy at Durham University, agreed fracking has been going on in the UK for decades.
He said the risk is fracking for shale gas.
“The oil industry is correct in saying they have been fracking for some time. What is new is the widespread deployment and possible fracking for shale gas.”
Prof Davies explained that unlike fracking for conventional oil and gas, fracking for shale gas requires multiple wells and has only happened in Lancashire so far, where it caused a small earthquake.
Durham University has published peer-reviewed papers explaining that earthquakes and contamination of aquifers are unlikely with this sort of fracking.
However he did say that it could cause the “industrialisation” of the countryside because of the number of wells and the traffic.
In northern England alone it will require “thousands” of wells to extract just ten per cent of the shale gas reserves, he said.
“For me the fracking is not the problem, it is the number of wells and the traffic,” he added.
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
September 11, 2018 at 07:33AM