Saturday, 14 September 2013

Diagram How Shale Extraction Can Contaminate Water

Methane in UK groundwater research overview

Thanks To

House destroyed by methane explosion at Loscoe

This article was written by the The British Geological Survey, which is a part of the Natural Environment Research Council (
NERC) and is its principal supplier of national capability in geoscience. They have some concerns over ground water and shale gas extraction. They have several good articles please browse their site.
Shale Gas and Ground Water
iHydrogeology, Shale Gas Source Rocks and Aquifers
Shale Gas FAQ's
New Shale Gas Resource Figures - Central England

Methane in UK groundwater research overview

Methane (CH
4) is an important greenhouse gas and a common trace component of groundwater.
We are currently undertaking a national survey of baseline methane concentrations in groundwaters across the UK. This work will enable future changes to be measured, which is of relevance to current issues such as possible shale gas extraction.
The BGS has been studying methane in UK groundwaters since the 1980s to investigate:

Groundwater methane contribution to total atmospheric emissions

Using baseline methane concentrations for the main groundwater supply aquifers in the UK, Gooddy and Darling (2005) estimated that water supply groundwater sources contribute only 0.05 per cent to total UK methane emissions (up to 3.3 x 10-4 Tg/year).
In terms of a global budget, the groundwater methane input was estimated to be two orders of magnitude smaller.

How does methane get into groundwater?

Methane in groundwater is derived from two main sources:
  • biogenic methane, which is bacterially produced, and is often associated with shallow anaerobic groundwater environments, such as peat bogs, wetlands, lake sediments and landfills, although it is detectable in nearly all groundwater.
  • thermogenic methane, which is formed during thermal decomposition of organic matter at depth under high pressures, and is often associated with coal, oil and gas fields.
In the UK most methane in groundwater is likely to be biogenic in origin, although thermogenic contributions may be locally important where gases have migrated from depth or there is slow release from previously deeply buried, low permeability, organic-rich rocks.
Dissolved gas and stable isotope analysis of groundwater samples can be used to identify the different sources and potential origin of methane.

Baseline concentrations in UK groundwaters

Sampling dissolved gases in groundwater with an evacuated flask.
Understanding the 'baseline' concentrations of methane in UK groundwaters can help us to assess future methane survey or incident data.
Measurements of potable waters from the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic carbonate and sandstone aquifers reveal methane concentrations of up to 500 µg l-1 but a mean value of < 10 µg l-1.
Aquiclude and thermal waters from the Carboniferous and Triassic have concentrations in excess of 1500 µg l-1 (Darling and Gooddy, 2006).
BGS scientists are building on our previous work and surveying methane concentrations (and other chemical parameters) in groundwater in a range of UK aquifers.

When does methane become explosive and create a potential safety hazard?

Methane becomes an explosive hazard at concentrations of 5–15% by volume in air.
Assuming complete outgassing from water, this requires a minimum dissolved methane concentration of 1600 µg l-1.
This figure is considerably above the general methane baseline (see above), but concentrations of up to ten times higher have been found in tunnels drilled in organic-rich shales.


Contact Dr George Darling for further information

Wednesday, 11 September 2013



This coming Wednesday, September 11, the plenary vote on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) takes place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The report being voted on contains two really important amendments - 31 and 79 (point e) - that we need a majority of MEPs to support if we are to make it very difficult for the frackers to operate Europe. These amendments call for mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments to be carried out for BOTH the exploration and production phases of ALL unconventional fossil fuel projects.
You can read these two amendments at
Please write to your MEP today requesting they support these amendments and follow up with a phone call if you can. If you would like a template letter to send to your MEP and his/her contact details, please email me at
Remember that a requirement for mandatory EIAs in Austria sent the frackers packing. We can do the same across Europe if these amendments pass.
There has been HUGE lobbying by industry to oppose these amendments, as mandatory EIAs represent additional delay and, as a consequence, additional cost, for the industry.
If we make our voices heard, we can win this! We won Round 1 at the Committee stage in July so let's repeat that victory and beat the frackers!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Step By Step Process of UCG Licensing From The Coal Authority.

We have contacted the Coal Authority for a clear step by step guide to UCG Licences.

We now have a clear structure to how things work, What we need to now do is follow up on each step and learn the regulations. For example in the letter below they say

 Environmental Impact Assessments will be part of the planning application  process whilst environmentalconsents and the monitoring of these will  be regulated by the Environment Agency
But this doesn't actually state who is doing the Environmental Impact Assessments, nor what the regulations are, only who regulates them. We want a guide that clear labels who is doing what. So we will follow up on questions raise and produce a very comprehensive guide.

You can view application and 
guidance notes here



Dear No UCG Warks,

I refer to your enquiry and attach the Coal Authority
s guidance notes for applicants for underground coal gasificationlicences for your information.  You should note the following :-

· All licences for underground coal gasification granted by the Coal Authority to date are conditional.

· A conditional licence allows the licensee to evaluate an underground coal gasification project in an area for an initial conditional period of normally 3-5 years (maximum 8) which can only be extended if the licensee can demonstrate substantive progress on the project.

· A licence is for underground coal gasification only which is regulated by the Coal Authority and does not involve any fracking.  A Coal Authority licence does not permit shale gas or any other conventional oil and gas extraction.

· With a conditional licence no underground coal gasification operations can take place until the licensee has satisfied the pre-conditions set out in the licence which include the acquisition of all the other necessary rights and permissions to carry out the operations.  These include planning consent; environmental permission and the consent of the Health & Safety Executive.  The licensee will also have to secure the consent of a landowner for any surface installation and satisfy the Authority that the finance is in place to carry out the operations.

· Exploration is permitted under an associated exploration licence granted by the Authority but once again this is dependent on other rights being in place. Before any exploration operations take place the licensee has to secure a supplemental exploration agreement from the Authority when site specific issues are addressed and the licensee has to demonstrate that all the other rights to sink the borehole(s) are in place.  These rights include any environmental and Health and Safety consents.

 In terms of responsibilities :-

Planning permission is the responsibility of the local planning authority.  If they refuse planning consent then an appeal can be made under planning regulations and this can result in a public inquiry held by the planning inspectorate.

The safety of any operation is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive

 Environmental Impact Assessments will be part of the planning application process whilst environmentalconsents and the monitoring of these will be regulated by the Environment Agency

The closure of wells will be addressed under the Coal Authority Licence and Lease, the planning consent and the borehole regulations of the HSE.

Site restoration will be a matter for the
 operator and the surface landowner and regulated by the planning authority.
I hope that this answers your query?

Simon Cooke

Picture (Device Independent Bitmap)
Simon Cooke
Principal Manager Licensing & Permissions

The Greens - European Free Alliance - Fracking Talk

The Greens - EFA

Long but worth a watch excellent talk on risks of fracking and extreme energy.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Naughty boy receives coal (at our expense) | openDemocracy

The government is giving away the rights to up to a billion tonnes of coal to a company owned by an ex-Conservative party fundraiser. Rather than filling his pockets, couldn't this revenue source be used for the public good?
Flickr/oatsy40. Some rights reserved.
The coalition government is providing a former Conservative Party fundraiser’s new company with licences which secure his company the rights and interests to billions of tons of the nation’s coal for UCG processing. UCG stands for underground coal gasification – a process to drill wells to set fire to coal underground and extract the gas by-products – both onshore and offshore. 
Official reports in 2009, 2011 and 2012 on UCG pilot studies in India, America and Australia resulted in major water contamination with highly toxic carcinogenic chemicals, Benzene and Toluene, (contamination which one private company covered up for 2 months) and the EU trial ending in disaster when they could not control the technology resulting in an explosion and the trial being abandoned. Just a few weeks ago an independent scientific panel in Queensland advised the state government against the development of a UCG industry until the firms involved can demonstrate the ability to put out the underground coal fires the process creates.

Algy Cluff, the founder of one of the companies recently handed multiple UCG licenses for both onshore and offshore by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, actually stated last week the technology is not proven offshore . Yet, he is about to embark on a UCG offshore test in Scotland. And when we say offshore, this does not mean the North Sea – the test is to be carried out in the Firth of Forth.
UCG licenses are also being issued for the Thames Estuary, Swansea Bay, the Dee Estuary and the Humber Estuary – as well as the North and Irish seas - when the technology still poses risks of major contamination with UCG carcinogenic chemicals as well as explosions and subsidence.
Onshore licences have also been made available for Warwickshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Cumbria and Lincolnshire with Algy Cluff claiming the technology was "proven onshore” – despite the Queensland decision.
The people of Warwickshire and Fife are up in arms as they have only just found out about Algy Cluff’s plans to burn billions of tonnes of coal underground in their area to extract gas. So who exactly is Algy Cluff and what experience does he have in UCG?
Algy Cluff made a fortune in North Sea oil in the 1970s and has been....

Continue reading Mel Kelly's article here, a brilliant read!

Naughty boy receives coal (at our expense) | openDemocracy