Tag Archives: fracking

Better than the alternatives

Bentonite dispensing

Adding “Bentonite” to a drilling fluid. Bentonite is a natural clay which, if you ate much, would make you constipated but it is not toxic.

The ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, ruled in Sept 16 that the Friends of the Earth (FOE) misled the public in a leaflet which claimed fracking can cause cancer. Despite this judgement, it is certainly true that there needs to be a watchdog on everything the shale gas industry does.  Fortunately we have one – it is called the Environment Agency (EA).  Now, it is clear that in this instance, and I have no doubt in many other of their campaigns, the FOE acted to promote their own interests in a way which was not based on evidence, in short, they actively fell short of honesty. It is also true that while there are some failings in the EA as a watchdog, it is one of the most precautionary regulators in the world.

There is another point to this and that is that the UK is not the USA and the British do have the best and safest technology in the world. Just to demonstrate, one of the British-designed drilling fluids is not toxic and you or I (I have offered) could drink it.  I would not advise drinking too much because the clay in it would cause constipation – but it would not poison the drinker.

For those who are concerned about shale, look at the facts and try to make an honest, evidence-based view. Will you conclude that shale gas is without fault or difficulties?  You would be foolish.  However, you might conclude that UK-produced shale gas is a lot better for the environment and ourselves than any and all of the alternatives currently available.  And we really do need more energy and we need it now.  Quite often in life, the choice is as with the politicians we vote for – maybe one might not wish to vote for shale gas but actually vote against the alternatives.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 14 January 2017

Dial 105

Euope ast might 2

Will the lights go out? What happens if they do?

There is an advertisement on at least one commercial radio station inviting us to dial 105 if we have a power cut. This implies that not only does the establishment know we are on the edge of power cuts on a large scale but they want us to prepare for it.  Now, I have colleagues who know far more about the national grid power supply than I do and they are quite certain that we are close to significant power cuts and, if all the relevant strains come on at once in a cold spell, then we may get a national shut down.  If we do, they some will be off for days rather than hours.  It will be inconvenient for most of us, will be very expensive for industry and cost lives.

Whatever we ought to do in terms of renewable power, the truth is that the quickest way, and lowest cost, to secure our power supply is to build gas-fired power stations. Other than nuclear (of which many of us have some reservations), gas is an almost totally clean burn. We area standing on enormous reserves of gas.  What does common sense tell us?

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 1 January 2017

Safe Shale ?


The lights WILL go out if we do not hurry up and do something.

Safe Shale 1; Integrity of the drill way.

I frequently get asked about the safety of shale gas exploration and its effect on land, groundwater and pollution. Well, here is a short discussion on drilling the top hole.

The vertical shaft of a drill down to shale gas is quite likely to be a kilometer, maybe two, or (in old money) a mile or so.  Maybe more. That, in itself, is not that much of a new thing.  Deep drilling for all sorts of reasons (such as geothermal drilling to bring “free” hot water to heat homes, offices and shops) has been going on, even deeper,  for a long time. (And geothermal drilling is often “fracked” and yet nobody complains about that!) What is different about drilling for shale gas is that when the vertical shaft has got to the depth that the geologist thinks is right, the drill turns, in a giant “J” shape, from being vertical to horizontal.  In the horizontal bit, the engineers want the hole to leak – inwards to collect the gas!

Common sense tells us that whatever the pollution risks are of leakage from a mile or so down back to the surface, they are very, very small.  In practice, it just is not going to happen for one very simple reason.  If it was going to happen, it would have done so already during the last few hundred, million years.

That still leaves the worry about the integrity of the vertical shaft. That certainly might travel through strata near the surface which might leak back up to the top, certainly it might drill through aquifers which might be used for human consumption; leakage certainly might cause pollution.  How likely is that “might” and can it be controlled?

Leakage of the vertical shaft after construction is known but it is rare.  After all, sinking just the vertical shaft is quite likely to cost over £10 million in the UK and, therefore, the investors and engineers are going to be quite careful.  The way of covering this risk is to pressure test the vertical shaft before turning to the horizontal drilling.  If it leaks, abandon it. In the UK. that is inflicted, independently, by law.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 27 December 16





Welcome to Followers and Visitors from http://www.safeshale.co.uk We shall be posting items here on shale gas, mainly Sundays and sustainable land management on Wednesdays.

For those who have visited this site in the past, but not Safe Shale, and are interested in shale gas exploration and production in the UK, you might like to see past blog entries at http://www.safeshale.co.uk

Welcome Shale Gas


There is a chapter on the safety of shale gas production in the UK and another chapter on the function of government.

Shale gas exploration can yield profits for farming, Reasonable charges can be made for access and storage but there are many active operations that can earn revenues, as well.  Materials have to be unloaded and moved, top soil removed, concrete and roads laid.  As staff come to site, then B & B, catering, waste recycling, road sweeping and host of services are necessary to keep operations and staff functioning.

If you feel that some guidance on how to handle a relationship and, if there are worried people in the local area, have a look at a series of blogs at www.safeshale.co.uk on how to manage the relationship.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 15 October 2016


Survival of farming the land


My latest book has just been released and it addresses some of the wider issues of human survival and puts shale gas into that wider framework of the use and care of land.  I thought you might be interested.

Population growth, food production and how crops actually feed, are inextricably linked and recycling urban “wastes” to produce fertilisers to grow food may yet be the saving grace in the crisis we as humans now face. However, understanding how to do it safely, and how “renewable” energy and shale gas fit in, are part of achieving sustainability rather than just short term survival.  Add a chapter on the function of government and, no doubt, this book tackles the issues head on with the technology (properly referenced to Scientific source data) and yet a practical approach to achieving progress.  “Survival – Sustainable Energy, Wastes, Shale Gas and The Land” by Bill Butterworth, published by Land Research, has just been released and is available in paperback from good bookshops or Amazon on the web as paperback (at around £10) or electronic version (at only £2.46) for computer or Kindle.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research  19 June 2016

Shale gas means Brussels is less important

Those who argue that there will be a recession if the UK leaves the EU, may be right for both the UK and the rest of the EU.  Certainly, there will be uncertainty for a while – so will there be if we stay in. The uncertainly if we stay in will be as to how long it will be before the EU will collapse under the weight of corrupt and stifling bureaucracy.        Brexit, however, will not bring a recession in the UK if we have shale gas. The Planning Committee of the East Yorkshire Council had the common sense and courage to give the green light for shale production and this means that Brussels and Mr Putin (there is evidence he funds the anti-fracking groups) have much less power over us. That plus less bureaucracy in the UK would breathe new life into the UK economy.

Bill Butterworth     Land Research Ltd    24 May 2016