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I will edit and organise this page with useful information about fracking as I receive your feed back. Elizabeth (07543281999,,


Mediamanipulation has made it difficult to fix the terminologies in order to have a proper debate, so here are some scientific input and our questions to Infrastrata

The film: Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, Senior Policy Advisor at the National Toxics Network, explains the latest medical research relating to unconventional gasfields and human health. Presentation at Kyogle Gasfields-Free Community Celebrations, northern NSW, Australia, 23 November 2013

(See also film with Professor Kevin Anderson on the start page)

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Email from their PR departement

Jan 6 2014

Dear Elizabeth,

It was very nice to speak to you earlier and thank you for taking the time to call and confirm the facts about Wytch Farm and the UK regulatory regime. Here is the information I promised to send to you:

Here is a link to Perenco’s statement about Shale Gas fracking: The key wording is: “It [Wytch Farm] is a conventional oilfield extracting oil (with some associated gas) from sandstone and limestone oil reservoirs. There is no known shale gas or coalbed methane in Perenco's licence blocks in Dorset (shown in orange) nor are there any plans to seek any such opportunities.”

Here is the link to the DECC website which explains the UK regulatory regime and also the role of the independent well examiner in carrying out risk assessments for proposed new wells. This applies to all wells (conventional and unconventional). The Regulatory Roadmap powerpoint presentation gives a good overview of the regulatory regime. Further details of the role of the independent well examiner are given on this company’s website:

You will find the paper by John Pucknell on different oil and gas industry techniques referenced in the background-material-for-general-public section on this page but here is the direct link also: The water injection technique that I spoke to you about (referred to as “water flooding” in this paper) is very different to the hydraulic fracturing technique used for “very low permeability reservoirs, shale gas and oil” (also described in the paper).

I hope this helps!



Infrastrata's expert Paul Foster writes to us re. the planned well in Swanage:

· The primary target for the well is a sandstone with pore spaces between the grains of the rock where the hydrocarbons are trapped within a geological structure, in this case known as the Purbeck Anticline.

· Unlike hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which is more in the news at the moment, where the shale rocks are fractured under pressure with water to release the trapped hydrocarbons, hydrocarbons within sandstones or limestones (known as “conventional” reservoirs) can usually be pumped or flow to the surface unaided. Water in the pore spaces is produced with the hydrocarbons and this water may be separated from the hydrocarbons and reinjected into the reservoir, which helps to recover a higher percentage of the hydrocarbons in the pore spaces. Such production from sandstones and limestones takes place nearby in Dorset at Wytch Farm (under Poole Harbour), Wareham and Kimmeridge Bay.

Paul Foster

Here is our new email to him:


I forward your reply to Tina Scotney back to you and I would like to ask, if you could send us pictures of the subterrain which is planned to be explored here in Purbeck showing the position of the aquafer, the sandstone and the shale rock, as you expect it to look like. We already know from our geophysicist, that we do not know the shape of the subterrain, before we look. It can be random and unpredictable.

And please also explain how you can state that the means of exploring the gas will be predictable. As far as I read online, it's as follows:

So if we were to generalize, perhaps over-generalize: what's the difference between shale gas plays and tight gas plays?

Shale gas Tight gas
Grain-size Mostly mud Substantially silt or fine sand
Porosity up to 6% up to 8%
TOC up to 10% up to 7%
Permeability up to 0.001 mD up to 1 mD
Source Mostly self-sourced Mostly extra-formation
Trap None Facies and hydrodynamic
Gas Substantially adsorbed Almost all in pore space
Silica Biogenic, crypto-crystalline Detrital quartz
Brittleness From silica From carbonate cement

I have tried to indicate where the average is, but there is a space in the middle which is distinctly grey: a muddy siltstone with high TOC might have many of the characteristics in both columns; the most distal facies in the Montney are like this.
Why does this matter? Broadly speaking, the plays are developed in the same way: horizontal wells and fracture stimulation. The difference is really in how you explore for them.

In Balcombe trucks going into Cuadrilla's site, were not marked. How will we know, if chemicals are transported into a site here in Swanage for the process called "stimulation"? By stimulation I mean that chemicals (toxic and radioactive) are pumped down to enhance the release of the gas from the rock/sandstone.

- - - end of our new email

So, it appears that there is no such thing as either tight gas or shale gas
It's always somewhere 'in between' and so it could be likely that "stimulation" would be required from time to time to make the exploration well profitable. Again, how do we control this?

Here is another link explaining the difference between tight gas and shale gas. We are waiting for another reply from Paul Foster and we will include it here as soon as we have it.

Tight gas and shale gas

tight gas

Tight gas is found trapped in impermeable rock and non-porous sandstone or limestone formations, typically at depths greater than 10,000 feet below the surface. The viability of sandstone reservoirs is determined by their porosity, or the open space between grains, and permeability, or how easily fluid or gas moves through the rock. In some cases, the gas can be found in small, isolated zones within 20 feet of each other, but due to the density of the rock formation, are inaccessible via the same vertical well.

The United States has been producing tight gas for more than four decades, and it now accounts for approximately 40 percent of the nation’s unconventional gas output.

shale gas

Shale is one of the Earth’s most common sedimentary rocks. It is a fine-grain rock composed mainly of clay flakes and tiny fragments of other minerals. Shale can be a gas reservoir, but only formations with certain characteristics are viable for development.

Thermogenic (from the Greek word meaning ‘formed by heat’) gas forms when organic matter in shale is broken down at high temperatures, often a result of burial deep underground. The gas is then reabsorbed by organic material to trap the gas within the shale.

Shale gas is the most commonly known unconventional gas. The United States has experienced a shale gas revolution, in which shale gas production increased from 11 percent of overall U.S. gas production in 2008 to more than 20 percent in 2010, and it may approach 50 percent by 2035. Globally, initial studies have identified nearly 700 shales in 142 basins around the world.

OUR COMMENT HERE: Please read about all the serious problems related to shale gas exploration on the other pages of this website.

Our expert says
The statement from 'about natural gas' is correct, except that the claims over its eventual contribution from Shale Gas look unlikely to be met as the figures were based on the five best plays!

The reply from Paul Foster is ambigeous - there is no firm statement on whether California Quarry application is 'conventional' or 'tight' - he is merely telling you the difference between the two but not saying anything about the actual application!

If that is his response to your questions, especially as he is well aware of concerns over Fracking, I would tell him that and press him to define whether his application is for 'conventional' or 'tight' oil/gas exploration.

Author of the free book Fracking in the UK Alan Tootill writes on his website

Toni Harvey: When DECC commissioned the report, we were focused on shale gas. It came somewhat as a surprise to us, because we thought that Bowland shale was going to be very deeply buried and entirely in the gas window, but there actually is some Bowland shale in the oil window, which is less deeply buried. So again, back to this figure of 42, the light orange is the Bowland shale that is in the oil window, and the dark orange is the Bowland shale that is in the gas window. Because most of it was in the gas window and we had not scoped out the report to do an oil estimate, we stopped at gas. DECC has now commissioned the BGS to do a report on the Weald basin in southern England, because that basin has not been buried as deeply and is likely to be mostly liquids. In that case, we will probably come out with a shale oil estimate, and we might not go to the effort of doing a shale gas estimate. Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: And you have no initial idea of what that might be? Toni Harvey: No, we are still doing the seismic mapping, log analysis and core rock evaluation. There is a lot of work to be done."

And Alan Tootill writes to us in Swanage
A query - looking at the County web site today there is a screening opinion decision document dated TODAY confirming no EIA required. (and - oddly -another dated September with the application). What is also a little odd is that that both documents mention only drilling into a gas reservoir, and not oil and gas exploration, as flagged in the planning application.
"The proposal is to drill an exploratory well into a traditional gas reservoir that is known to exist out to sea east of Durlston Head. If the gas reservoir is found, the proposal is then for a six month evaluation phase, before the site is restored.
I'm no geologist, but it seems there is more to the application than finding the "conventional" gas reservoir in sandstone. The planning and sustainability statement mentions at least twice the prospecting also of Jurrassic rock. The Dorset Jurassic rocks include shales (eg Lower Lias at Kimmeridge). So I think you are quite right to be concerned that this application is a trailer for shale oil/gas fracking.

Another reply from Paul Foster:


I have now had a response to your email from Andrew Hindle at InfraStrata.

Firstly just to clarify further the earlier email to Tina, if hydrocarbons are encountered testing will not involve hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) of the rocks.

The attached figure shows a summary of the geology below the Isle of Purbeck area, within the Purbeck Anticline. These intervals are well known and outcrop along the Dorset and Devon coastline. The figure highlights the ‘conventional’ sandstone and limestone reservoirs, the target of the well as it is drilled onshore to offshore. The approximate depths of these rocks are also shown. These reservoirs produce oil and gas nearby at Kimmeridge Bay, Wytch Farm (under Poole Harbour), Wareham and Waddock Cross. In the case of the Kimmeridge Bay Anticline in the west of the Isle of Purbeck there has been production from limestones 500 metres below sea level for over 50 years (since 1961).

The aquifers in the area of the proposed well are within approximately 100 metres of the surface. This Purbeck Limestone interval will be drilled through and cased with steel and cemented in place before proceeding to drill through the deeper potentially hydrocarbon bearing intervals in the well.

On traffic movements, the figures given in the Traffic Assessment report are correct and have not changed. The numbers given in my reply to Tina were a summary of traffic movements during the different phases of the project.

Paul Foster

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Our new questions to Paul:

Dear Paul,

I appreciate that the testing phase will not involve hydraulic fracturing of the rock. However, it's the next phases that concerns many of us here in Swanage. I would like to see financial scenarios for exploring the resources found (which most likely will also include a part that is shale gas) with and without involving the method of hydraulic shale fracking.

I note that you are not clearly commenting on the research that I sent you, which shows that the subterrain is always a mix in between the characteristics of tight gas and shale gas. The 1-dimensional geology picture you have sent is interesting. However, it is the 3 dimensional image (which we do not have) that I am referring to, when I state that it's unpredictable what the layers look like in the subterrain. And so, I logically conclude that unless the planning application is much more accurate and also include different scenarios, it is hard to see through what means of production would be feasible/acceptable for InfraStrata in the future - and we, the locals, find it hard to trust that we know what it is that we are giving a go ahead here on our beautiful hill.

What we are really concerned about, is seeing this project carry on without having seen the intention clearly stated. Once the drill rig is there on the hill, and we already have the damage - visually, traffic wise and otherwise, we are aware that the situation concerning the planning can 'be reversed' from what it is now. We the locals, who have already paid through our taxes for the testing phase, will by then have to argue, why the gas cannot be released by means of hydraulic shale fracking, the method which many of us can see is promoted so vigorously.

What would keep InfraStrata from using the method of hydraulic shale fracking, if that turned out to be the most profitable?

Kind regards
Elizabeth Thomsen, Swanage BH19 1LW




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