Frack attack! - Hodder Education

Simon Oakes
Frack attack!
Shale gas and fracking
KS5 Specifications and qualifications
AQA: ‘types of energy’ and‘patterns of energy supply’
Edexcel: ‘increased energy insecurity’
OCR: ‘the global energy mix’
WJEC: ‘the sustainability of energy supplies’
IB diploma: ‘changing patterns of energy consumption’
Frack attack!
An overview
Natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the
high-pressure penetration of fluid into shale-rock sites, known as plays.
Fracking produces shale gas, an unconventional fossil fuel.
Technological advances helped fracking become cost-effective in the mid-1990s.
The energy mix of the USA has been transformed by shale gas.
Some predictions show the USA as the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer by
2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The UK government wants to promote shale-gas production, because North Sea
gas production is in terminal decline.
In France, fracking has been banned due to health concerns.
Frack attack!
How is it done?
At drilling sites, the water, sand
and chemical mix is injected
vertically and horizontally to
depths of 3 km.
The process triggers tiny
explosions that disintegrate
the hard shale to release
methane gas trapped inside.
The gas flows out to the head
of the well.
Enormous amounts of waste
water are generated by the
Frack attack!
Three big fracking issues
be damaged by fracking.
Nasty effects include
methane leaks and filthy
us with climate
change mitigation.
could provide energy
security in the short and
The low cost of shale
medium term.
gas encourages
governments to
Millions of gallons of used
fracking fluid must be
abandon renewable
energy solutions.
disposed of.
Shale gas is a fossil
fuel and will not help
The local environment can
flow-back water.
Researchers found that
some of the 260 fracking
chemicals used in the USA
are known carcinogens.
With peak oil fast
approaching, shale gas
The Fukushima explosion
left people feeling scared of
nuclear power.
Is this the right
Energy pathways to
Middle Eastern oil fields
course for sustainable
could lose their strategic
importance, reducing
geopolitical tensions.
Frack attack!
The view from the UK
The British Geological Survey estimates the
UK has 1,300–1,700 trillion cubic feet of
shale gas.
Exploration is led by Cuadrilla and IGas. Both
companies are interested in northwest
England, where the Bowland Shale holds
400–500 tn cu ft.
Large reserves lie below southeast England’s
Weald basin too. It’s a highly-populated area
of high property prices. Local opposition to
exploratory drilling can be expected. Protests
have already erupted in Balcombe.
Frack attack!
Who else has shale gas?
Frack attack!
The final verdict?
Supporters of fracking argue that we face a greater threat from coal-burning
power stations — a new one comes online every week in either China or India.
Increased use of shale gas, rather than coal, will at least reduce the
carbon intensity of global GDP growth.
Shale gas could help ease the transition to a low-carbon economy, serving as a
bridge fuel until renewable energy sources begin to deliver.
journalist Michael Brooks argues that there are two important decisions to
make. First, do we trust the regulators to do a good job in minimising the
environmental impact of fracking? Second, do we want to be part of the
generation that decided not even to bother trying to meet reductions in carbon
Frack attack!
Essay writing advice
What is meant by ‘increased use of shale gas’?
Will it be a major or minor part of the energy mix?
Does the statement suggest substituting coal with
shale gas, or using shale gas instead of renewables
or nuclear? A good answer will question the scale
of increased use suggested by the statement.
Best in whose view? Citizens? Governments?
Businesses? Environmentalists who are concerned
with climate change? From what other different
perspectives can we look at the question? A topband response will provide a clear account of the
different stakeholders and their views.
‘Increased use of shale gas is the best way to meet
global energy security concerns.’ Discuss.
This is the key concept the essay is based
around. So what does it mean? And what
timescale do these ‘concerns’ relate to?
The next decade, or the next century? This
is something you should be thinking about
early on in the planning stage.
The ‘discuss’ command requires a balanced
answer, putting forward views in support of
and against the statement. At A2, you should
aim for a conclusion that agrees or disagrees
with the statement (rather than hedging your
bets and ending with‘maybe it is, maybe it
isn’t, as there are costs and benefits’).