The Guardian struck it rich in their ongoing opposition to fracking on Wednesday when geologist Chris Cornelius, one of the founders of Cuadrilla’s shale operation in the North West, threw shade at the chances of the industry re-opening.
The geology in Lancashire isn’t conducive, he said. It’s too expensive, investors won’t fund it, it won’t lead to “a meaningful supply of new gas”, the regulatory environment is oppressive, and there’s no social license for it.
It’s true the anti-frackers have polluted the environment with fake-news stories of “flaming faucets” and being “thrown out of bed” by earth tremors 2.9 on Richter (a level that is barely discernible on the surface). The clean-up of the information environment will take decades.
Chris Cornelius may or may not be right in his various assessments, though they are all out of his area of expertise. The industry has advanced since his time, the regulatory environment can be changed, the law against illegal protest behaviour can be tightened, provision for national pricing might be introduced. Time will tell.
The certainties that he – and most anti-frackers – express are no better than opinions (“A dangerous fantasy . . . cheaper than renewables . . . do nothing to cut bills” – Ed Miliband.)
In the matter of investment there is a pipeline of cash ready to flow, not least from Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS.
Cornelius’ one area of expertise is undermined by Francis Egan, current CEO of Cuadrilla, who wrote to the Guardian rebutting his geological assertions:
“Mr Cornelius left Cuadrilla more than a decade ago and has not been involved in the coring, fracking or flow testing of recent wells by Cuadrilla and other industry players, and does not have the most recently available data. His knowledge base is more than a little dated and we completely disagree with the conclusions he consequently draws.”
The Guardian declined to publish the letter…