Trustees are legally bound (Geordie Pottinger)

Investment decisions by the Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), as presently constituted, lie with the newly elected councillors for Shetland Island Council (SIC) as SCT trustees, ex-officio.

Newly elected SIC councillors can vote whichever way they please on any subject, commensurate with their own ideas and political opinions, irrespective of their intrinsic merit.

However, they do not enjoy the same freedom of decision while acting as SCT trustees.

As appointed trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust it behoves them, legally, to take investment decisions in order to make the best returns possible while, at the same time, protecting the trusts’ funds. This, inevitably, involves risks, but these risks are tempered by sound advice from investment advisers.

Rather than being vilified, the former SCT chairman and present SCT management should be commended for directing the course of investment in the partnership of Viking Energ windfarm. Not only has this investment already made spectacular returns, but has the prospect of, if followed through to fruition, of ensuring that Shetland will, finally, by being connected to the national electricity grid system, be guaranteed to have a reliable supply of electricity, indefinitely. The further prospect of developing other sustainable clean energy systems in Shetland will help to ensure a sustainable Shetland into future years.

Of course, Sustainable Shetland, so called, is against this prospect, but what do they have to offer instead? We all know what they are against, but what are they for? They would appear to want to keep the status quo, i.e fossil fuel burning generators with a few small wind generators thrown in here and there for good measure. Fine – until oil and gas runs out, then what – a nuclear power station? I doubt very much if many people in Shetland would want one of them, neither fission nor fusion, in their backyard.

So, how exactly does Sustainable Shetland propose that a reliable closed electricity grid be provided in Shetland when the oil and gas have gone – or don’t they care about the long term future for succeeding generations? With 800 members along with 2,738 objectors to the windfarm, not to mention the “majority” of the Shetland population in their camp, you would think that at least one would be able to come up with an acceptable alternative to the Viking Energy windfarm. I really am looking forward to hearing what it is. Maybe I’ll even change my mind, Billy – but don’t hold your breath.

Geordie Pottinger


Add Your Comment
  • Alan Skinner

    • April 30th, 2012 14:21

    I would point out to Mr Pottinger that the “spectacular returns” are entirely theoretical, and based upon a valuation model that has made certain assumptions, which may or may not come to pass.
    Furthermore, as per Mr Goddard’s briefing note to the trustees dated 4th October 2010, the Trust will have to provide £62m (it is unclear whether the £62m includes the £3.4m aleady spent, and the £6.3m currently requested, so the Trust’s exposure could be over £70m) which is approximately 35% of the Trust’s total assets. This is an outrageously reckless concentration of risk in one investment, and suggests that the trustees have been so blinded by the promise of fool’s gold that they are prepared to completely ignore their fiduciary responsibilities. If there is a cost over-run, the Trust’s potential naked exposure is frightening.

    Alan Skinner – Candidate for the North Isles

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 30th, 2012 15:48

    I am sorry to hear Geordie Pottinger, saying what he has said, if this is the same Geordie Pottinger as i know, I am truly disgusted by his remarks, there is absolutly nothing in writing to prove what returns there might be, are we going to get power into our grid, the answer is a big no, All that Shetland will become is one big industrial estate, What will we lose, our Landscape, Wildlife, Tourism, and goodness knows what else, We will also lose in the region of £60/70 million of our Charitable Trust cash, which could have been spent on more of what the population require, can do no see Geordie Shetland is being used for all the wrong reasons, to line the pockets of Multi National Companies, would you like one of these Monstrosities sitting in front of your house, I think not, so dan Geordie get da pipe going and have another think about what you are saying.
    Sandy McMillan

  • John Kryton

    • April 30th, 2012 18:29

    Why are you sorry Sandy, does it ruin your theory about “true breed Shetlanders”.
    Well said Geordie, I wish I could express myself in such an eloquent manor, you should have stood for the council.
    To Alan, you claim the spectacular returns are entirely theoretical, well this applies to your argument to the contrary. If we follow Geordie the returns could be spectacular if we follow you the returns will be nil. “He who pays the piper calls the tune and reaps the profit”.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 30th, 2012 18:44


    From your letter,

    “So, how exactly does Sustainable Shetland propose that a reliable closed electricity grid be provided in Shetland when the oil and gas have gone..etc?”

    I understand from this that you are basing your point on the notion that oil and gas supplies will run out in the near future. Is that correct?

    I have already provided evidence elsewhere that this proposition is demonstrably false.

    If you are not prepared to research technical issues before writing you would be well-advised to avoid making sweeping assertions which are readily disproven, like the one in question.

  • Geordie Pottinger

    • April 30th, 2012 20:28

    John Tulloch, yes, I did read your letter but dismissed it as being irrelevant to my point.

    I don’t have to make an argument based on a “premiss” (sic), false or otherwise. I only have to point out the facts as they stand. It is for Sustainable Shetland to put forward an alternative to the Viking Wind Farm which they have singularly failed to do.

    My standpoint offers the prospect of diversifying industry in Shetland as against Sustainable Shetland’s status quo of declining indigenous industry and lack of prospect for future generations.

    So, I don’t have to research into “Resurging North American Oil Production et al ” or look at “thorium nuclear reactors ..readily scaleable” or otherwise. I’ll leave that to techno-phobes and climate change deniers.

    Geordie Pottinger,

  • Alan Skinner

    • April 30th, 2012 20:57

    In response to Mr Kryton, I would support SCT’s involvement if they were risking say 10% of the portfolio, provided the majority of Shetlanders support the project. That would reduce our stake in VE from 45% to 15%.The point that I am trying to make, but have obviously not succeeded, is that the majority of the present group of trustees have fallen in love with the possible investment returns, which is a fatal mistake in investment, and are risking a disproportionate amount of the trust’s assets.That is a clear breach of the fiduciary responsibility that they owe to all of Shetland residents, who are the beneficiaries of the trust. Risk management is essential in successful investment.

    Alan Skinner – Candidate for the North Isles

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 30th, 2012 21:20

    John you have proved nothing there is as much evidence on the web to prove you so wrong, anyone can copy and paste “proof” to make a point, even as in your case an unconvincing and dangerous point.

    The world could still have oil reserves that would fill 800 million barrels, with about half of that in the Middle East. Which means supplies to the West could be totally reliant on the current political climate there. Because we use oil to manufacture many materials, including plastics, we use oil at a much faster rate than either natural gas or coal. People have been expecting oil to run out within the next few years since at least the 1990s. No doubt it is currently getting scarcer, and as a result more expensive and eventually too expensive to generate electricity. Current estimates suggest we will not actually run out until well after 2025 but may become a commodity we cannot afford well before that.
    Most of the coal deposits have not been tapped yet and the decline of the coal mining industry in the UK means that the coal seams still there are currently lying undisturbed. If we carry on using coal at the same rate as we do today, we could have enough coal to last well over a thousand years making coal the only fossil fuel to last more than several hundred years. However, as other fossil fuels run out, particularly oil, the use of coal may increase, reducing that time span considerably.
    Governments around the world realise that we are approaching the ultimate crisis in terms of oil supply and there is a global movement to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we use. If we can find alternative energy sources, it would not matter if oil, gas or coal ran out or not. The issue of global warming and climate change is also an important reason why fossil fuels have really fallen out of favour. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning and using fossil fuels could be contributing to global warming and causing disruption to the weather patterns all over the world.

    There are plenty of alternative energy sources that are renewable or in constant supply such as wind, wave and tidal power. Most intelligent people are now realising that a massive switch to these types of power source will be required in the very near future. Strangely it seems to be human nature that the urgency to make this happen will not be great enough until it is either too late or techno-phobes and climate change deniers wake up to the truth.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 30th, 2012 21:36

    The oil and gas will be hear long after the PROPOSED WINDFARMS, Krypton if do wis a true breed Shetlander do wid hif kent Geordie wis a Councillor, The life span o da Turbines is only around 25 years, the Shetland climate will probably take five years+ of,
    Sandy McMillan

  • Bert Morrison

    • May 1st, 2012 1:17

    Okay, lets take Sustainable Shetlands advice and pull SCT investment out of Viking Energy and play it safe. What then? Do we really believe that SSE and partners are going to scrap a project which; using the language of that great eco warrior Donald ‘Boeing 757’ Trump may be “The greatest producing wind farm in the world”. With the worlds most efficient Burradale windfarm as its pilot, why will SSE scrap the idea and go home? Lets not be fooled, every effort will be put in to see Viking to fruition whether SCT are onboard or not. Too much has already been invested. If Viking goes ahead without SCT investment and is as successfull as its partners are predicting, Shetland can thank Sustainable Shetland.

    John Tulloch has a point – hydrocarbons aren’t going to run out anytime soon, but as the worlds population steadily climbs from 7.1 Billion today to a UN estimate of 9.3 Billion by 2050 – will it be affordable to the average person? Have we already not had a small taste of escalating energy prices (and this is in the midst of a huge down turn in the worlds economy) – imagine what energy prices are going to do when the worlds economy regains its strength and the wheels of industry start turning again. Renewables are not the answer for total energy security, however it is a vital part of the future ‘energy mix’. I look forward to John disproving my thoughts.

  • ian tinkler

    • May 1st, 2012 12:44

    Mr. Bert Morrison in answer to yours. There is absolutely no guarantee that the Viking project will ever go ahead, no one can say with certainty. The profit forecasts are completely speculative and based on wildly optimistic projections which may prove fictional, again no one can say. What I can say with absolute certainty, is that if the project does go ahead, there will be, multiple legal actions from all those overshadowed by turbines. There will be a multiplicity of reasons to launch such actions. I for one will help anyone whose quality of life is damaged or health threatened by this wind farm in any legal way available to me. It will be a very brave or stupid investor who would expect to make easy monies out of Viking Energy. I can see this can of worms rapidly turning into a financial disaster to eclipse all of the SICs and STCs previous spectacular records of financial debacles. Just let SSE go it alone, just bring them on, without the goodwill of all Shetlander’s they will be well minced. As for a green and Shetlander friendly alternative; “At fraction of the cost of Viking, and none of the risks, we could equip every home in Shetland with solar panels and or small individual turbines: This would free Shetlanders from power bills and keeping all funds in Shetland for Shetlanders Ian Tinkler Candidate Shetland west

  • John Kryton

    • May 1st, 2012 13:20

    McMillican I did not say anything about what Geordie was I said he should stand for the next council. I’ve worked in Shetland long enough to know McMillican is probably a descendant of a Leruck Scottie so not exactly a full true breed Shetlander eh.
    Wind farms can be replaced and replaced to go on for decades so they are hardly going to be outlived by whats left of the oil reserves are they.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • May 1st, 2012 20:54

    World’s liquid fuel supplies – this is from a 2010 presentation by Glenn Sweetnam of the US Department of Energy.……970c-popup

    It’s not that we are running out of fossil fuels, the issue is that it is no longer possible to increase the rate of production at a rate that can keep up with demand growth. The Peak Oil people have long said that the impact is firstly and overwhelmingly economic.

    Second, we simply cannot burn all the fossil fuels available, and maintain a habitable environment.

    In that world context, a place like Shetland with almost infinite renewable power on it’s doorstep will prosper – indefinitely when oil is gone (and that’s a while yet). I have no doubt of that. IF the naysayers can be faced down.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 1st, 2012 21:17

    Bert Morrison,

    Thank you for your measured, considered comment which contrasts pleasantly with the ill-informed blustering of people like Geordie Pottinger and Gordon Harmer.

    For the record, I am not against renewable energy in general; there will always be situations in which it is perfectly sensible and economical. Nor do I feel entitled to have a strong view about the wind farm since, unless I return to live in Shetland, I will experience neither the projected benefits nor the well-catalogued drawbacks. I am nevertheless extremely sceptical of King Alexander IV’s fantasy of 100% of Scottish energy coming from “renewable” sources.

    I do want Shetland to do well and to make decisions for valid reasons which is why I can’t stay silent when I see a lack of evidence supporting propositions, outright falsehoods dressed as quasi-religious “facts” or downright political chicanery. If Shetlanders want a wind farm they should have one, for the right reasons.

    In the last few years, new technology has boosted US shale gas production to a point at which companies are shutting down gas wells because the price is so low. US gas prices are currently around half to one third of the UK’s and a quarter of Europe’s. American gas import terminals are being converted to export terminals. American chemical companies are bringing production plants back from the third world to benefit from the cheap cost of energy and feedstock (yes, Gordon, gas can readily replace oil as chemical feedstock and fuel for engines!).

    Chinese shale gas reserves are even bigger than America’s and they boast production will overtake the US within 10 years.

    UK gas reserves have recently been estimated at a staggering 1000 trillion cubic feet and the government has given the go-ahead for further careful exploration. France Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, India, etc all have large reserves and it’s inconceivable that these resources will not be exploited. Assuming even 10% recovery the impact on prices will be, as they say, “game-changing.”

    The International Energy Agency’s “World Energy Outlook 2011” predicts we are entering a “golden age of gas” when gas will be both plentiful and cheap. Here’s a few bullet points from the text to whet your appetite;-

    “  Key drivers of the GAS Scenario Widespread development of unconventional gas  Lower gas prices  Gas targets in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan  Reduced growth of (conventional – JT) nuclear energy  Increased deployment of natural gas vehicles”

    A spin-off from the new gas technology is its use in producing shale oil of which there are around 5 billion barrels in the US’ Bakken Shale, alone – for starters!

    Then there is “fire ice” (methane clathrates – frozen methane beneath the sea bed and tundra) which the Japanese are currently pioneering with experimental production in the Sea of Japan. “Fire ice” reserves, alone, are believed to be greater than all other fossil fuels combined and it is thought to exist in significant quantities west of Shetland.

    Even with today’s current high fossil fuel prices, renewable energy is much more expensive than fossil fuels, that is the reason for the very high subsidies paid to encourage renewables investment (2-3 times the price of fossil fuel equivalent).

    UK gas prices are likely to fall and if they follow the US, then it follows that renewable energy will be in the range of 4 to 9 times more expensive than energy produced from gas.

    Don’t take it from me look up the I.E.A.’s “Golden Age of Gas” – their figures will only bear out with a steep drop in the gas price.

    And don’t forget, if EVERYONE uses “renewable energy,” EVERYONE will have to pay for “renewable energy” – through their electricity bills and taxes because EVERYONE will be “subsidising” EVERYONE else.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • May 1st, 2012 23:58

    Mr Kryton, Its the destruction to the Landscape, Wildlife, and the people in the vacinity of these monstrosities, I for one do not want to see the shetland Isles change its appearance in any form, I do not know where you hail from, in my case my roots on the McMillan side go back at least six generations, on my mother side go back to the time of the Vikings, or even longer, so as you see i have quite a long established family history with Shetland, Shetland has been the home of McMillans for generations, this is one reason i would like our Shetland stay as it is, with no interferance from any sooth moothers.
    Sandy McMillan

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 2nd, 2012 20:05

    Here are two of the methods of retrieving gas that John Tulloch advocates, both have devastating effects on health, environment, and property. Devastating effects that are irreversible and this climate change denier would sooner head of down this road before building a wind farm. Well John I hope they find Fire ice at the head of Loch Long and shale gas in your back yard.

    “Fracking,” and the entire process of shale gas extraction, is not the solution to our energy challenges, as the oil and gas industry portrays it to us; instead, it is scraping the bottom of the geological barrel, bringing unacceptable health, climate, and environmental consequences while delaying and distracting us from developing energy policies to ensure our children’s future.
    Our scientific understanding is inadequate for responsible risk management. The environmental and health consequences of shale gas drilling are hard to measure, but pervasive and potentially irreversible. Proposed regulations address only those substances for which we already have criteria. The chemical mixture in “fracking fluid” is only one of many sources of environmental contamination; abandoned capped wells, after economic production ends, will be hazards for millennia to come–far longer than all human experience with concrete and steel.
    The industry’s campaign of disinformation has hijacked public dialog. Citizens can’t realistically appraise “risk-benefit” decisions when they are shouted-down by phony claims of imagined economic security and “energy independence,” ( John Tulloch ) and while their actual experience (deteriorating health, destruction of property values, diversion of water and crop-land) is mocked and trivialized.

    “Fire Ice”.The clathrate gun hypothesis is the popular name given to the hypothesis that rises in sea temperatures (and/or falls in sea level) can trigger the sudden release of methane from methane clathrate compounds buried in seabeds and permafrost which, because the methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas, leads to further temperature rise and further methane clathrate destabilization – in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 2nd, 2012 21:30


    I repeat I don’t have a strong view abut the wind farm, I just can’t abide nonsensical arguments, evidence-free falsehoods and political “jookery-packery”.

    Incidentally there is already a large oil import facility on Loch Long with a pipe to Grangemouth and a shale gas production well-head is very small in comparison.

    Amazingly, among your “ill-informed bluster” I actually found something I agree with you on;-

    “Citizens can’t realistically appraise “risk-benefit” decisions when they are
    shouted-down by phony claims of imagined economic security and “energy

    You are quite right about that.

  • Shuard Manson

    • May 3rd, 2012 2:45

    I count ANYBODY who lives here as a Shetlander and quite a few who have left for pastures new too, whether I agree with them or not. Mr McMillan, if you wish to use small minded parochialism as an argument. You don’t have an argument.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 3rd, 2012 7:30

    Correction: For “oil import facility on Loch Long” please read “oil terminal on Loch Long” – it’s nothing like Sullom Voe but it’s a fair size and clearly visible from Arrochar.

  • Ali Inkster

    • May 3rd, 2012 8:27

    Sorry Gordon but fracking has been around in the oil industry longer than I have and I’ve been doing this job for 25 years, and apart from a few instances where mom & pop companies in the USA have fracked shallow formations without doing any risk assessments on the likely outcome it has been trouble free.
    Yes if you frack a formation that is shallow and close to the water table you may get problems and that is where all these scare stories have originated, and that is exactly what they are scare stories.
    Like “peak oil” a scare story that has helped keep the oil price high, so one the oil industry has been happy to let run.
    The shale gas that every one is going on about is situated deep in the earth’s crust and as such is nowhere near the water table and fracking will have no effect on the water table unlike the conventional reserves fracked in the US.
    As for the chemicals being toxic yes they are but so is pond water and like pond water I would not recommend drinking it
    I wont give you a load of web sites to look at because for every one I link to there is another that will state the opposite, but you can take it from me our grandchildren and great grandchildren have nothing to worry about in the instance of fossil fuel shortages.

    Now lets get back to the wind farm and why I think it is a bad idea for Shetland.
    Lets look at the rhetoric coming from the wind farm supporters.

    Its going to make us millions just like the oil, well maybe it will but most likely it won’t. But it will satisfy mad ecks demand for the power companies to produce x% of power from renewable resources so SSE can’t lose, why we are even going to pay 45% of the build cost and let them use our much greater wind resource for the same pittance they pay down the road win/win for SSE then.
    It is going to be built on peat a natural carbon sink releasing much more of that nasty CO2 that we keep hearing so much about more than it will ever save considering that it will need conventional (fossil fuel) back up running 24/7 just in case the wind drops slightly.

    We have a 50% share so we will have a say in how it is built and run, NO WE DON’T we have a 45% share meaning we will pay 45% of the costs and be outvoted by private concerns looking out for their own bank balance.

    This project is ripping the heart out of the Shetland community putting fantasy profits before the welfare of good folks that just want to live their lives without being blighted by a massive industrial project in their midst.

    Shetland will become a centre for excellence for the renewable energy industry, WILL WE? did we become a centre for excellence for the oil industry? Did we even get that many jobs from the oil industry? considering our geographical position in relation to the oil fields. no we got thrown a few scraps from our own table and we are supposed to believe it will be different this time.
    So folks when you go out to vote today think of your friends and neighbours and what this wind farm will do to them, and not the pie in the sky fantasies of a bunch of charlatans that will spend YOUR MONEY on PR exercises but will not open up the books to public scrutiny.
    God help us all if it ever goes ahead.

    Now lets get back to the oil and gas around and even under Shetland, If we push for more autonomy or even outright independence we could insist that the oil companies set up bases in Shetland to service this resource this would provide jobs (extremely well paid jobs) for our children for years to come not just in engineering but in the basic services. A cabin steward/ess gets paid around £185/day and that is the lowest paid person on the rig, they only work 6 months a year offshore, a deck labourer (roustabout) gets over £200/day £36,000 a year far higher than the average wage up here, and these are starting positions it only goes up from there.

    Did our council secure these jobs for us when oil came did they hell.
    The industry servicing oil and gas is worth £billions and Shetland only sees the merest of crumbs yet the council seems to think we have done rather well from it all, that is why I have no faith in them getting us anything like they claim from this wind farm.

    Instead of throwing all our eggs in one basket lets take a step back have a referendum which will take a bit of time and see how things develop before flying headlong into the precipice from which there will be no turning back.

  • Lindsay Wiseman

    • May 3rd, 2012 12:05

    Shuard Manson, you should re-read John Kryton’s comments to Sandy McMillan on the 1st May re being a Shetlander before you accuse Sandy of “small minded parochialism”.

  • Douglas Young

    • May 4th, 2012 7:29

    Investment thus far, £3.2 million. Returns? Minus £3.2million.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 4th, 2012 19:17

    Ali fracking is hardly trouble free as the locals in Lancashire will testify to when earth tremors caused by the fracking process shook their houses recently.
    A controversial gas drilling operation that triggered earthquakes in Britain is set to be restarted but with tighter controls on the process.
    The company involved has accepted stringent recommendations from Government-commissioned experts who say hydraulic fracturing – known as ‘fracking’ – should be allowed to continue at the Preese Hall well in Lancashire.
    If shale gas is to be part of the UK’s energy mix we need to have a good understanding of its potential environmental impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts.
    John Tulloch if you cannot abide such nonsensical arguments why do you contribute such nonsense and think the rest of us are idiots. You oil import facility is small in comparison to Sullom Voe
    One of the provisos is that even a tremor too small to be noticed above ground should result in an immediate shutdown, with compulsory remedial action before a resumption of drilling.
    The independent report also calls for careful monitoring of the site using arrays of seismic sensors, and steps to ensure excess pressure cannot build up beneath the ground.
    Fracking involves injecting high pressure water, sand and chemicals into shale rock to release trapped gases some of which is released in to the atmosphere.
    Ali if you were up to date with your research you would know that the natural carbon sink of peat has in places been found to be in reverse and peat is giving off carbon. This must be as a result of burning fossil fuels over the years some thing you and John both seem to advocate for the future therefore having a much worse effect than the disturbance of building a wind farm.
    As far as mad eck is concerned I agree with you his pipe dream is a just that a pipe dream that will backfire on him in the long term.
    There is enough evidence to prove that the Viking wind farm ( when sorted out so as not to infringe on property ) will succeed and will provide substantial rewards for all involved ( including the Shetland population ).
    I don’t understand your remarks about the council failing us as the ZCC fought to establish the Zetland act. This act that was unprecedented by its forethought and proactive approach to giving a community financial retribution for disturbance caused by oil development.
    As far as jobs go there is a traveling workforce in Sullom Voe in the hundreds because there are nor enough locals to fill all the positions available.
    The Viking wind farm is going to happen so lets accept that and all work together to make it less invasive on some individuals and more profitable to us all.

  • Ali Inkster

    • May 5th, 2012 5:20

    Gordan, I’ve felt bigger tremors from the trucks arriving with the fracking gear than I have ever felt during the actual frac, please continue to use google and I will continue to go by my own experience.

  • Mark Counter

    • May 5th, 2012 21:53

    Ali here are a few facts about fracking that did not come from Google but from someone who spent three years fracking in the states. Anyone who is prepared to be a spokesman for fracking and on the other hand is opposed to windfarms needs to get a better grip on reality.

    Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

    How does hydraulic fracturing work?
    Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

    What is horizontal hydraulic fracturing?
    Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

    What is the Halliburton Loophole?
    In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

    What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?
    In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.

    What is the FRAC Act?
    The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.
    How deep do natural gas wells go?

    The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

    How much water is used during the fracking process?
    Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

    What fluids are used in the fracking process?
    For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

    In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?
    The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

    What is done with the waste water?
    Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

    What is a well’s potential to cause air pollution?
    As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

  • Ali Inkster

    • May 7th, 2012 5:04

    A wise man once said “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, well I won’t claim to be a wise man but for the modern era it should surely be a little knowledge and an internet connection is a dangerous thing.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 7th, 2012 17:13

    I am pleased you pointed out that link Ali, it has a very educational animation which describes fracking to a tee in all its environmentally destructive glory.
    Come to think of it while I was debating the wind farm with Ian Tinkler you joined in and told me how factual the google links Ian was using were. Ali its actually ok if you disagree with me you don’t have to go to such lengths to prove how wrong you are.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 7th, 2012 19:51


    Contrary to your assertion above I don’t think you are an idiot and I also think you are at heart wanting the best outcome. Set aside our differences for a moment and consider this;-

    If you line up with people who put forward false information don’t be surprised if your own contributions are disregarded along with theirs.

    I think this is one of those occasions when you have gone into print without thinking through what you are saying.

  • Ali Inkster

    • May 8th, 2012 0:10

    Gordon the site that the “facts” came from belongs to a political group with their own agenda, just because the information on it agrees with your point of view does not mean it is fact.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 8th, 2012 12:46

    Listen to the news on the radio today John and Ali it backs up every thing I say.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 8th, 2012 18:55

    Apparently, Lord Smith (Lab), head of the Environment Agency has told the BBC that his organisation will not oppose fracking in the UK.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 9th, 2012 6:14

    An the rest of it John, there are a lot of could’s and if’s in there as well as controlling the environmental problems that Ali insists are not there.

    But fracking has been blamed for the pollution of underground and surface water supplies, as well as causing minor earthquakes.

    Lord Smith told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he would not stand in the way of fracking in the UK, as long as certain requirements were met, arguing that “it could be part of the answer” to the UK’s energy demands.

    “The source of a domestically available gas supply would, of course, be potentially very beneficial for our energy needs. It could provide energy security, which we don’t necessarily have when we import gas from abroad. It could be affordable,” he said.

    Lord Smith said natural gas “has to be drawn out of the ground effectively and safely”.

    He said that “means worrying about the way in which the drilling takes places, it means worrying about making sure the methane is captured rather than discharged to the air and it means making sure that none of the contaminated water gets into the ground water that sometimes can fill our water supplies”.

    The process would have to be monitored and regulated “very rigorously”, he said.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 9th, 2012 9:51


    Proper regulation of ALL industrial activities is entirely right and proper and shale gas is no exception – didn’t you read Ali’s comment about how rigorous the risk assessments and control of production are?

  • Derick Tulloch

    • May 9th, 2012 9:59

    “Onshore wind industry provided around 8,600 jobs and was worth £548m to the UK economy in 2011”

  • John Tulloch

    • May 9th, 2012 11:49

    An editorial on UK energy policy in the “The Wall Street Journal” comments;-

    ” Mr. Cameron is touting £4.7 billion of renewable investments in the last year that are “supporting 15,000 jobs.” What the Prime Minister didn’t say is that those jobs come at a mean cost of £313,333 per employee.”

    Who paid for that? We did – at a rate, I guess, of around £235 per “home!”

    And renewable energy isn’t even scratching the surface of replacing fossil fuels yet.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 9th, 2012 18:15

    Correction: The Wall Street Journal article referred to by me above is behind a paywall however it is also available at;-

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 9th, 2012 21:22

    John, Ali only mentioned shallow fracking without risk assessments creating problems. Anything which involves extracting oil or gas from the bowels of the earth should be risk assessed out of site. This was not done at Preese Hall hence the earth tremors and the suspension of fracking activities until conditions imposed, only after an inquiry. A classic case of locking the door after the horse has bolted, luckily we did not have an onshore Piper Alpha incident.
    John if fracking can be done 100% safely with no short or long term harmful consequences then bring it on, but I am sceptical.

  • Ali Inkster

    • May 10th, 2012 10:28

    Gordon you are missing the point and that is fracking has been going on for years.
    And an earthquake of magnitude 1.6 which may of been caused by the fracking is hardly worth the furore that has been made about it when you consider this reports of the UKs largest earthquake in 25 years
    “a few books fell of shelves” “it was like a truck going past”
    If it wasn’t for the seismograph then nobody would even have known it had happened, and the doomsayers would never of known there was something to get all righteous about.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 10th, 2012 17:22

    Easy for you to say Ali you don,t live there, the fact that it happened could mean more and worse to come. As I have said before fracking is scraping the bottom of the geological barrel, bringing unacceptable health, climate, and environmental consequences while delaying and distracting us from developing energy policies to ensure our children’s future.
    Our scientific understanding is inadequate for responsible risk management. The long term environmental and health consequences of shale gas drilling are hard to measure, but pervasive and potentially irreversible. Proposed regulations address only those substances for which we already have criteria and reactions we understand.
    As a final point you have in your last sentence shown a very irresponsible attitude to something that did affect a lot of people in the Blackpool area. A situation if reversed would show an extreme cavalier attitude to wind farm objectors fears.

  • Geoffrey Ritch

    • May 11th, 2012 13:12

    “As I have said before…..”

    Don’t you mean as John Detwiler and Marcellus Shale Protest have said before Gordon? If you are going to present other peoples thoughts as your own, at least give credit to the original thinker.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 11th, 2012 17:10

    A bit petty Geoffrey, if you read what I copied in a previous comment you would know I was repeating that, try and keep up.

  • Geoffrey Ritch

    • May 14th, 2012 9:09

    Thanks for setting me straight on that then Gordon! For some reason I don’t seem to be finding it necessary to ‘try and keep up’ with your input on this subject.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 14th, 2012 12:56

    Geoffrey, if you don’t seem to be finding it necessary to ‘try and keep up’ with my input on this subject, why do you feel it is necessary to comment in such a petty and elitist manner?

  • John Tulloch

    • May 14th, 2012 17:52


    Using retorts no more makes a debater than it makes a scientist however I understand they are excellent for obtaining oil from shale rock!

    Perhaps you’ve missed your vocation?

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 14th, 2012 22:38

    John the use of a retort when one is not a scientist or the best of debaters is a last resort. To use a retort to extract oil from rock is scraping the bottom of an oily barrel or to put in context, also a last and desperate resort.


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