Fracking: Committee on Climate Change report review by Paul Mobbs

After three months delay, and amidst the post-Chilcot furore, DECC have decided to publish the Committee on Change’s report on unconventional oil and gas exploitation in Britain.

The report and government’s response available here — <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/committee-on-climate-change-report-and-government-response-on-the-compatibility-of-uk-onshore-petroleum-with-meeting-the-uks-carbon-budgets>

On a quick reading it’s possible to say that the CCC have completely ducked the issue of fugitive methane emissions. Yes, they refer to some recent research studies on the issue, but as part of their calculations they’re still using the data from “reduced emissions completion” studies in the USA.

Recent peer-reviewed studies on this data has shown that it is flawed because the methane sensor used doesn’t work under all test conditions — and the data from the Allen study, the standard data source used, demonstrates that it was not sensing high methane releases for some of the time.

The problem with the sensor has been known publicly for about 12 months, and within the industry for much longer. In fact the failure of the measuring equipment goes some way to explaining the difference between “inventory analysis”

studies used by the industry, and the recent studies of actual gas concentrations which discovered high methane emissions.

All-in-all then, the report is a move on from the blinkered approach of DECC’s 2013 Mackay-Stone report. It does have some interesting conclusions — such as the fact that current oil and gas regulation standard in Britain can’t meet the emisisons ceiling necessary to meet the UK’s carbon budget.

However, due to its failure to reflect the most recent studies on fugitive emissions form the US, its analysis is deeply flawed. It relies upon data which is know to be significantly in error from actual emissions in order to arrive at its conclusions.

Therefore the CCC’s report fails to adequately identify the hazards to the climate from unconventional oil and gas exploitation in Britain.

 

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