Recently, anti-fracking activist Alan Tootill took it on himself to produce an illustrative map of the Fylde showing what he suggests will be the likely spacing of 100 shale gas well pads should Cuadrilla eventually progress to developing the Bowland Shale. But he’s been very naughty in his misrepresentation, as you’ll see dears.
“Dear Aunty, is it true that this is how a fracked Fylde could look in the future?”
In short, poppets, no it’s not.
Mr Tootill – who, I might add, is no expert on fracking – may well have taken the title for the most egregious misrepresentation of the impact of shale gas since Frack Off first used an image of the Jonah gas field in Wyoming to suggest that it’s what Lancashire will one day look like.
He has produced this map at a 5 km scale using Google Maps, which he says is indicative of the scale and spread of the 100 well pads Cuadrilla says it may one day need to produce 10% of the gas trapped in the Bowland Shale.
Whilst he may well be right about spacing (Aunty suspects that only Cuadrilla really knows at this stage) he has deliberately attempted to negatively influence public opinion and frighten people by portraying it the way he has.
The blue dots that Mr Tootill has used to identify the spacing of 100 well pads will inevitably lead some readers to assume that’s how much space they will take up, dears, but it’s far from accurate.
Using the 5 km scale, Aunty’s best guess is that his blue dots are approximately 0.5 km in diameter, giving them an area of 0.2 square kilometers. 0.2 square kilometers, cherubs, is about 20 hectares. A shale gas pad, on the other hand, will be about 2 hectares in size according to UKOOG, the oil and gas industry body.
Which means that Mr Tootill has exaggerated their size by a factor of 10.
Helpfully, the Fylde is already home to an onshore gas well that is broadly comparable – the one in Elswick – so let’s take a look at that to get a better feel for what shale gas development may look like at scale, shall we cherubs?
The map above is broadly the same as the Google Maps image that Mr Tootill has used, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s rather bland and meaningless. So let’s have another look using the satellite version. Can you see the well pad in Elswick at this 5 km scale below? No?
Perhaps at the 2 km scale? Still no?
Surely you can now see it at the 1 km scale?
At o.5 km scale?
Or this 0.2 km scale?
Really, dears, you still can’t recognise it? OK, here it is again at the 0.2 km scale but this time I’ve highlighted it for you in red poppets.
Tiny, really, isn’t it? And easily lost among all the rural buildings and farm structures nearby, many of which are actually much bigger.
Of course, that’s what it looks like from above. What does it look like from the ground?
Well, from the nearby road, it looks like this:
And on site, not much more than this really:
But, there’s something else to consider too, which Mr Tootill has rather deceitfully not mentioned and that’s the fact that these 100 well pads won’t all spring up simultaneously; instead, they will be developed incrementally over several years, probably in discrete clusters to keep plant mobilisation costs to a minimum.
According to the IoD report, Getting Shale Gas Working, 100 shale gas well pads would be developed over 12 years, with activity ramping-up in the fourth year and remaining at 10 pads per year for the next 8 years. After which, construction and completion activities would fall back and the sites would get on with quietly supplying gas into the national distribution network.
All in all, my loves, the impact will not be anywhere near as noticeable as Mr Tootill would have us all believe with his 10x exaggerated blue dots.
Until next time xxx