Fracking has led to a greater reduction in carbon emissions than all the world’s wind turbines and solar panels put together, the Council of Europe heard last week.
Speaking at a meeting of the council, which promotes co-operation between all European nations, Chris Faulkner, chief executive of Breitling Energy, explained how shale gas has led the way in reducing carbon emissions in the U.S.:
“Fracking has succeeded where Kyoto and carbon taxes have failed. Due to the shale boom in the US, the use of clean burning natural gas has replaced much more polluting coal by ten per cent. In 2012, the shift to gas has managed to reduce CO₂ emissions by about 300 megatonnes (Mt).
“Compare this to the fact that all the wind turbines and solar panels in the world reduce CO₂ emissions, at a maximum, by 275 Mt. In other words, the US shale gas revolution has by itself reduced global emissions more than all the well-intentioned solar and wind in the world.”
Oil and Gas Online reports that Faulker also called on Europe to follow America’s lead, saying that if other nations are serious about reducing carbon emissions, they should look beyond renewable energy:
“Many countries in Europe, and across the world, have similar opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, and to experience the same economic benefits.”
“These are not opportunities governments should overlook, or discount, as carbon reduction targets will not be achieved through renewables or any other current energy generation technology.
Faulkner also criticised opponents of fracking, saying that their criticisms are not based in fact:
“Opponents of fracking and shale exploitations cite various risks. Yet a million and a half wells have been fracked in the US since 1947 and 95 per cent of all wells in the US are fracked today. It is a very safe method of exploration and production. Fracking occurs at several thousand feet below freshwater aquifers. It is virtually impossible for any of the fracking fluid to climb back up through the rock formations between the shale gas deposits and the aquifer.”
He then went on the praise the UK, which he said was the only European country to take shale exploration seriously, although he criticised shale industry for failing to sell itself correctly and engage with local communities to assuage any fears they may have.
“The UK is the only country in Europe which is progressing with shale exploration,” added Chris Faulkner. “The rest of Europe is watching the UK very closely to see what happens.
“The UK government is making every effort to get this right, albeit without much help from the shale industry which has spectacularly failed to properly engage with governments and, more importantly, with the public at large.
“The handful of companies operating in the field have not made any real effort to engage with local communities around sites, enter into proper discussions with local councils, or discussed fracking with environmentalists, allowing them free range to influence public perceptions using inaccurate, misinterpreted or exaggerated information mainly from the US experience.
“The industry has also failed to come forward with any suggestions for compensating landowners and local communities, seemingly leaving it to government to regulate.”
Several fracking areas in the UK have become sites for protests by environmental groups who remained convinced that shale exploration is dangerous. In May, it was alleged that protestors at the Daneshill drilling site in Nottinghamshire had turned to violence, including physically attacking staff working at the site.
A 58-year-old woman was arrested in connection with an assault on the site manager. Another female protestor allegedly screamed at a security guard: “We are going to kill you!”
John McGoldrick, chief executive of exploration firm Dart Energy, said: “We have recently witnessed an escalation in non-peaceful protest. Site personnel have been threatened with violence – death in one case – verbal abuse, racial abuse and now physical abuse.
“There is no way that the protest movement can claim it is making a peaceful protest. These abuses are despicable and cowardly.”