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Analysis and Comment (36)

Is trouble brewing in the North Sea? Jo Christian Oterhals

Why an $80 barrel of oil is bad

The dramatic and unexpected 20% fall in oil prices since mid-June has caused alarm in Scotland, the UK and indeed worldwide. Why did oil prices slump to a four-year low of US$84 (£52) per barrel this week…
Better get our heads out of the sand and run. Peter Byrne/PA

Fracking boom could mean up to 12% more carbon emissions

The consistent message from those who would seek to exploit shale gas is that it has three distinct advantages over existing forms of fossil fuel energy: it is cheap, it has a lower influence on global…
Is the sun setting on West African oil? A platform in Limbe, Cameroon. VirginieVV

US fracking boom puts West African oil economies at risk

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US made a point of diversifying its sources of oil to reduce dependence on the Middle East. It was a strategic move which promised a huge boost to West African…
A different perspective on fracking: wells in the Jonah Field, Wyoming. Ecoflight

Without full disclosure of accidents and chemicals used, fracking risks remain unknown

The rise of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has ushered in an era of intense drilling that has been called the great shale gas rush. Fracking allows oil and natural gas to be extracted from horizontal…
While there may be gold beneath the surface, it’s hard to reach. Wu Hong/EPA

US-style fracking success far from guaranteed on British soil

Britain’s energy-hungry population is highly dependent on oil and gas, which powers around two thirds of the UK’s energy needs. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) projects that by 2030…
It depends if the price is right, it seems. Peter Byrne/PA

Fracking will be tried in the court of public opinion in 2015

There has been an anxious search for new sources of fossil fuels, and shale gas appears to offer Britain a key national resource. But the nation’s new-found hydrocarbon wealth has met with far from universal…
Frack the police: a protester is taken down at Barton Moss. Lynne Cameron/PA

Police violence at anti-fracking protests is about order, not law

In November 2013 at Barton Moss on the outskirts of Salford, IGas, a company specialising in onshore extraction of oil and gas, began exploratory drilling to test for coal bed methane and shale gas. The…
Australia has a possible path to 100% renewables – if governments and business can be persuaded to take it. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Renewable energy target can go all the way to 100% – if we let it

The political outlook for renewable energy is not great – and I’m not just talking about the view out of Joe Hockey’s car window. The Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to deliver 41 million megawatt-hours…
The WA Environmental Defenders Office was involved in the legal challenge to planned gas processing at James Price Point. Cortlan Bennett/AAP Image

Environmental legal aid slashed when Australia needs it most

When residents from the tiny town of Bulga won a three-year court battle to stop Rio Tinto expanding an open-cut coalmine beside them, it was hailed as a victory for David over Goliath. Yet the type of…
Is this a sunset, or sunrise, for fracking? danielfoster437

Shale gas: make polluters pay for the social cost of fracking

While the prime minister has shown unequivocal support for exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves, stating the country should “go all out for shale gas”, more cautious voices point to possible effects…
Will countries outside the US take on the risks of shale oil? Flickr/ Randy Udall

Shale oil: the boom heard around the world

The US is in the midst of an oil boom. Shale gas has grabbed much attention, and rightly so. But it is shale oil (a light, crude oil found in shale or tight sandstone, and also known also as tight oil…
Unlike Queensland, it’s very unlikely there will be fracking for coal seam gas in Victoria. Simon Townsley, QGC AUSTRALIA

Unconventional gas in Victoria: proceed with care

While New South Wales and Queensland have moved to exploit unconventional gas resources, Victoria maintains a ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for onshore shale gas and coal seam gas (CSG). Those…
Drilling in Balcombe and in Lancashire, pictured, has caused a frack load of fuss. Cuadrilla

Fracking earthquakes and flaming water: but not in the UK

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, reignited the row over fracking this week, when he insisted this method of extracting shale gas was no “great evil” and could act as a bridge to a “green…
The single well drilled in Balcombe caused more protest than thousands drilled in the US. Gareth Fuller/PA

As US shale industry falters, a UK fracking boom is unlikely

While the discovery of what appear to be substantial gas resources under UK soil is an intriguing opportunity for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the country’s energy companies, lessons…
The LNP wants to scrap CSG legislation. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Putting coal seam gas clashes on the election map

Coal seam gas (CSG) is fundamentally divisive. Proponents of short-term profits are pitted against those whose priority is to preserve the sustainable resources of agricultural land and scarce water. As…
Fracking would exacerbate problems with low water levels in reservoirs. John Giles/PA

Water supplies may struggle to cope with fracking demands

The drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of wells for oil or gas is a well-established technique and requires large quantities of water. During the initial drilling of the well, water is needed…
The Balcombe-eye-view of fracking. Tom Pugh/PA

Mad dash to frack Britain puts carbon targets in danger

Even for a relatively seasoned observer of the antics of government, the recent performance over fracking, crowned by the prime minister’s comments about fracking his backyard, has been a wonder to behold…
Protesters have sought to highlight uncomfortable truths. John Stillwell/PA

Shale gas is a necessary part of the renewables recipe

Energy Minister Michael Fallon’s recent comments about the impact of fracking on communities in the leafy Home Counties (“We are going to see how thick their rectory walls are, whether they like the flaring…
Lindisfarne Castle, Northumbria - one of many beautiful places in the “desolate” North East. Owen Humphreys/PA

Neither fracking nor anything else should divide us further

The recent comments from former government energy policy advisor David Howell, Lord Howell of Guildford, on the suitability of different parts of England for fracking amply demonstrate how off-the-cuff…
Broken plates? Thank your nearest shale gas well. pugshi

Can fracking cause bigger, more frequent earthquakes?

Injecting fluids into the Earth, whether to recover natural gas or to obtain thermal energy from the planet, can cause earthquakes. New reports that look at American fracking, deep waste-water injection…
Frack orf: fracking hasn’t had the same reception here as it has in the US. Georgie Gillard/PA

Laying down the law over fracking

Foundation essay: This article on the different international attitudes to fracking by Professor John Paterson, Chair in Law at Aberdeen University, is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation…
Queenslanders don’t like coal seam gas, but a smart government could change all that. AAP

First job for the new Queensland government: fix coal seam gas

Three little words strike fear into the heart of at least 40% of Queenslanders: coal seam gas. These three seemingly innocuous words have managed to divide a state, and become the hottest topic in the…
Shutting down shale gas is a short-cut to reducing emissions. alienscapes/Flickr

Methane makes shale gas a current climate danger

In the US, as in Australia, debate about the merits of alternative gases has been heated. In the US the contentious gas is shale, rather than coal seam. But at least one source of conflict is the same…
Coal’s heyday is coming to a close, but is gas a long-term solution? Guy Gorek

The future of gas power: stepping-stone or snare?

The past few years have seen the rapid expansion of the coal seam and shale gas industry. Combine this expansion with the recent introduction of a price on carbon here in Australia, and you end up with…
Coal seam gas mining can create 5 million litres of “produced” water per well. Jeremy Buckingham MLC

National Water Commission calls for a closer look at fracking

Last week, the Federal Government’s National Water Commission (NWC) delivered its third biannual assessment of the national water initiative (NWI). And for the first time, the NWC is looking seriously…
Farmers are worried about their land and water, but governments want their gas. AAP

Food or fuel: how will governments solve the coal seam gas dilemma?

Food security and energy security are paramount to the survival and growth of Australia. Food security so that we may feed ourselves (and a hungry world), and energy security for transport, heating, lighting…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (5)

Fracking harms biodiversity

Fracking has a range of negative impacts on biodiversity, research has found. Erik Kiviat from Bard College found that fracking…