The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Should we frac in theNorth York Moors?

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

You've probably never heard of Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation.

But I expect that you have heard of "frakking" or "frac"?

That's because those folks with a "not for shale" bias have worked out that the word "frakking" sounds nasty and evil.

And they know they're on to a good thing in convincing British people not to develop our Nation's unconventional natural gas resources.

A Question of Paradigms

Now then, when you've got an anti-shale World-view ("paradigm") that resources are finite, and soon to run-out; if that paradigm is confronted by conflicting evidence, you can only do two things.

1   You can alter your World-view to the new reality; or

2   You can try - somehow - to make the new reality fit your World-view.

So after 50+ years of telling us the Malthusian tail that "peak-energy" has passed; and we'll soon run-out of hydrocarbons; those folks with an anti-shale agenda are confronted by the new reality that we've got more natural gas available than ever before.

"How can this be" those folks might ask?

Frakking and Directional Drilling

It is because the two smart techniques of Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation (HFS) - "frakking" - and Directional Drilling have allowed for a game-changing transformation of energy recovery.

We can now exploit clean natural gas locked in shale and coal-seams below Britain; and in such vast quantities that even ten-years ago were considered unattainable.

My own paradigm - I'll admit freely - is that smart and clever people, using their brain power are the "Ultimate Resource" in solving all problems.

Think how Alan Turing and the other brilliant British cryptanalyst's broke into Hitler's Enigma codes - seemingly impossible - but achieved by clever people using brain-power!

And I believe that clever people will always discover new and better ways to solve environmental "limits to growth" using human ingenuity.

HFS and Directional Drilling show exactly how the ultimate resource of human ingenuity has, and will continue to succeed in finding and developing new sources of cleaner energy for a brighter future.

That's what I call sustainable development.

Imposing Artificial Limits to Growth

But those folks with an anti-shale agenda have another answer to this new dilemma of boundless unconventional gas.

Because of their depressing paradigm of a World with finite resources, their answer is to call for a moratorium on "frakking"; and to blanket ban the exploitation of new sources of British natural gas.

Only by banning the exploitation of new sources of energy can those folks with an anti-shale agenda selfishly ensure that gas does, in fact, become "finite"; and force reality to match their paradigm.

Using that extreme psychological sleight of hand; they can then force upon us all the reality of dwindling resources to match their depressing view of the World.

The problem, of course, is that the unconventional gas that lies below the surface of Britain is not "finite" in any meaningful way; but if the push to ban its exploitation succeeds, then energy supply will indeed "run-out" over time.

And then we'll all really be stuffed!

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part One

Listed below are my own reasons for supporting Britain's drive to exploit our unconventional natural gas resources using HFS and directional drilling.

1.  In order to remain a Sovereign Nation; with the economic, political and social capability to determine our own destiny; it is vital that Britain develops unconventional sources of gas; these will free our Country from the enormous risk posed by a reliance on energy supply from the Russian's.

2.  Unconventional energy sources - shale gas and coal-seam gas (CSG), and to a lesser degree oil - are readily available for exploitation below the British mainland in vast quantities.

3.  Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation (HFS) is not a new technique.  It is a long-established technology with a history of use in the UK, America and Australia going back at least 50-years.

4.  The environmental and worker-safety hazards posed by HFS are well-known and easily managed using current technology and existing hydrocarbon management planning techniques.  And technology will continue to improve in the future; bringing ever safer operations.

5.  When compared to the huge economic and social benefits created by the jobs and investment from unconventional gas, the tiny environmental and worker safety risk posed by HFS is negligible. 

6.  The specific risk to surface-waters and ground-water aquifers - as highlighted by opponents of HFS - is, in fact, negligible.  The risk is also easily managed using current Well drilling, frakking and Well-completions techniques.

7.  Modern directional drilling, when combined with HFS means that Wellhead locations at the surface can be located several miles from the underground fracture zone; meaning the necessary surface infrastructure for each Well can avoid ecologically important lands or urban areas.

8.  The chemicals that are used in the HFS process would typically be found under the kitchen sink or in the bathroom of nearly every home in Britain, and in all hardware stores and most hospitals; meaning they're not dangerous when used properly.

9.  The sand that is used during HFS operations as a "proppant" is either regular silica sand (similar to the sand you'd find at the beach at Whitby) but selected for its purity, specific grain-size, and absolute roundness; or it is a manufactured inert clay ceramic made for ideal size and roundness.

10. When compared to existing coal-powered electricity stations, the use of shale gas and CSG create the opportunity for clean-burning, low-emission electricity generation.

11. The surface "land take" for a typical shale gas or CSG Well is very small; and Wells in production are unobtrusive and not particularly noisy.

12. Contrary to what opponents of unconventional shale gas would say, not a single property in the UK or elsewhere on Planet Earth has ever been damaged by an "Earthquake" resulting from the use of HFS.

13. Again, contrary to the "Not for Shale" Agenda, the jobs and prosperity that the exploitation of new sources of unconventional gas bring to any area means that overall community wealth increases; and local home owners will likely see good increases in property values.

14. All things being equal, the price paid for electricity resulting from "gas to power" projects should become cheaper following our exploitation of unconventional sources of natural gas.

15. Finally, I'd suggest that the wealth generated from the future  exploitation of unconventional gas makes our country more - not less - able to protect our wonderful natural environment and National Parks.

What Should We do?

My own feeling is that local communities around Britain that are smart about unconventional natural gas have an historic chance to band together for real local benefit.

Communities should come out in favour of unconventional gas projects; but demand a better deal for "royalty" payments from the gas-field operators and the Government.

In America, where land-holders own the mineral rights to their properties, the energy businesses have turned thousands of owners and farmers into multi-millionaires through royalty payments.

In Britain, communities and parishes should band together to maximize the payouts coming to the local community with a pro-frakking stand.

Money from royalty payments to local communities could be used for a wide range of community-development initiatives; job creation for young people, libraries, walking and cycling routes, history interpretation, environmental protection schemes - all sorts of projects could be funded from royalty payments from frakked-gas.

It is in everyone's interests for Britain to develop our unconventional natural gas resources using frakking technology.

The downside environmental risk is negligible and easy to manage; and the upside social, economic and political benefits - sustainable development - stand to be enourmous.

Or we can all just sit-by and let the Russian's supply our energy-needs.

As the Ukrainian people have just discovered, we'll need good luck with that one...

Happy April the 1st.

Western Australian Frac Regulations

Graham Marshall - Friday, February 14, 2014

Western Australia is thought to contain around 20 per cent of the World's recoverable shale gas reserves.

So the process of Hydraulic Fracturing (so called "frac" or "fracking") of shale to release the gas is likely to become a widespread practice in coming years.

In response, the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum (WA DMP) has released its new draft Regulations for Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation to address water monitoring and gas well management.

The draft Regulations are open for public comment through to the end of May 2014.

Overall, more than 780 wells have already been fracked in WA since the first frac-job on Barrow Island in 1958.

It is thought that commercial exploitation of shale gas in WA is 5-10 years away.

2013 Unconventional Resources and Exhibition

Graham Marshall - Monday, October 28, 2013

SPE is hosting a international conference for industry players to discover and learn about the latest technological advancements in unconventional oil and gas.

The 2013 SPE Unconventional Resources Conference and Exhibition will be held at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Queensland Australia from 11-13 November 2013.

Over 100 papers are expected to be presented in more than 20 technical sessions and e-poster presentations covering:

• Advancements in Petrophysics;

• Delivery of mega-projects;

• Exploration areas and evaluating stimulation effectiveness; and

• New standards for reserves work in practice and on sharing unconventional resources industry experience.

For further information and bookings, telephone 61 7 3308 3000.

Fuel Security Report Highlights Need for Fracking

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, April 03, 2013
A report commissioned by NRMA Motoring & Services concludes that Australia could come to a standstill within three weeks if there was a major disruption to the country’s liquid fuel supply. 

The Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security report was prepared by Air Vice-Marshall John Blackburn (retired) and highlights the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and fuel.

The report calls on the Australian Government to develop an effective fuel security plan to deal with extraordinary disruptions to supply.

Such disruptions could occur as a result of war, economic turmoil, or natural disaster. 

NRMA Motoring & Services highlight that 85 per cent of Australia’s transport fuel comes from overseas crude oil and/or imported fuel. 

Almost 95 per cent of the road transport network relies on imported oil. 

Austrlaia has about three weeks’ worth of fuel before the country would come to a standstill. 

This fact alone could cause concern within the Australian Government.

Australia simply could not function without liquid transport fuels. 

The Australian Government must undertake a thorough analysis to identify and understand the risks that could affect our liquid fuel security. 

Only then can the Government make proper decisions to ensure an acceptable level of national resilience. 

The NRMA believes that Australia needs a fuel security plan to: 

+  Reduce our dependence on overseas fuel supplies by sourcing local supplies and safeguarding our refining capabilities; and 

+  Develop and use non-oil based alternative fuels or other resources available in Australia such as LPG and electric vehicles. 

The NRMA commissioned Jamison Group of transport and energy experts has developed two comprehensive plans to end our dependence on imported oil and secure our own transport energy future. 

At the Risk Tool Box, we also highlight the need to transition to unconventional fracked oil from oil shale available across Australia.  This could be a real game-changer, just has it is in the USA from oil shale in the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Uttica.

Anti-fracking Movement Tactics

Graham Marshall - Monday, February 25, 2013

Anti-development eco-mentalist groups in the USA are showing the latest tactic to slow down the development of natural resources for human benefit.  And we're likely to see more of the same moronic action here in Australia.

They're creating  mountains of cardboard boxes of public comments in response to the latest gas-drilling guidelines proposed by New York's environmental agency.

The vast majority of the 204,000 letters that anti-drilling groups submitted to the EPA are the result of social media outreach and meetings at libraries, community centers and churches where organizers would hand out form letters and stamped envelopes.

They use stamped envelopes and sample letters that you just sign and mail to the EPA.

Sensible people with an interest in promoting human welfare through energy- and job-creation should understand and dismiss this pointless tactic as a misrepresentation of actual sentiment and realize it is just another green tactic to stall development by drowning regulators in an ocean of wasted paper.  And government time-wasting over approvals for major projects is bad enough already here in WA.

If nothing else, however, it does demonstrate how the anti-gas drilling movement in New York is able to mobilize people based on fear and scare tactics, and simple down-right lying about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which hasn't even begun in New York state.

DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said the department has 30 to 40 employees at its offices going through the comments, the majority of which are form letters.

But remember, wile anti-fracking groups produce hundreds of thousands of valueless comments, the gas and oil industry has produced thousands of high-paying jobs.

And we're proud to be part of that!

Risk Tool Box Awarded Major Contract

Graham Marshall - Friday, February 15, 2013

We're pleased to announce that the Risk Management Tool Box has been awarded another major contract to continue the work we've been doing in the North Dakota  Bakken unconventional oil field for the previous several years.

The contract runs for the whole of 2013 and we start working in ND again from Monday 25th February.

This scope of work recognized the Risk Tool Box as Australia's leading HSE practioner in regard to drilling and completions and fracture simulation (so called "fracking") in unconventional shale oil and coal seam methane.

And contracts of this size demonstrate the continued sustainability of our risk management business - now in our 5th year of operation.

JSA Training Program Results

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, February 06, 2013

We've recently completed a JSA training program with 100 workers in an oil field belonging to a new customer.

Our new customer required that we collect feedback from their employees and contractors to allow them to evaluate the success of our JSA training program, prior to a wider roll-out of the program in the field.

Enclosed here is a JSA feedback report which shows how the workers thought about the JSA training program and the comments that they made on their feedback forms.

The name and location of the customer has been removed, but otherwise all results and comments are as they were collected.

We'll let you decide if this group of 100-field workers thought our JSA training program is any good!

 

Annual Report for the Risk Management Tool Box

Graham Marshall - Saturday, December 29, 2012

The shareholders of the Risk Management Tool Box Pty Ltd are pleased to publish the Business' Performance Results for 2012.

We know that open and honest talking with our stake-holders is important to building trust and earning respect.

We therefore openly provide information about our business, including reporting our performance against our annual targets.

2012 was another excellent year for our business.

Although there has been a gloomy global economic climate, our continued focus on the core business needs of our cornerstone customers ensured we've weathered the storm. 

In 2012 we benefited from our business' continued presence in the economic powerhouse of Western Australia, and our recognition of the future role of "unconventionals".

Our strategic focus on the needs of our key customers in "unconventionals" in the three "boom" areas of WA, coal-seam gas around Roma in the Surat Basin in Queensland, and in the "black-gold" boom in the Bakken in North Dakota, USA has kept us 100% busy throughout 2012.

Key accomplishments for the Risk Tool Box in 2012 include:

•  Co-winning with Hess Corporation, the Society of Petroleum Engineers' (SPE) and APPEAs Global Safety Innovation Award for 2012;

•  Broadening our knowledge and understanding about risk management requirements in unconventional oil and gas - particularly around "completion operations" and "frac";

•  Exceeding cash-flow and profitability targets;

•  Continuing to run a debt-free and cash-flow positive business for another straight year;

•  Meeting our tax obligations to the ATO;

•  Developing and commercialising our Hazard Observation Program with field-based trials with Eni (Australia);

•  Continuing our program of charitable donations throughout 2012;

•  Not recording any lost-time injuries;

•  Continuing to publish our Risk Tool Box safety blog as a free industry resource on a daily basis; and

•  Having a lot of fun along the way!

Unfortunately, we did not meet all of our targets. Performance was not as good as we had hoped in the following areas:

•  Our 49% shareholding in Eveleigh Consulting Pty Ltd (formerly trading as An Mea WA) has once again proved a great disapointment - with $0 delivered against our investment by Steve Williams and Sean O'Donnell, the management team of that business; and

•  We have not been successful in recruiting the people we need to grow the training-arm of our business;

But, despite those minor setbacks, we will continue to focus on our strong relationships with existing clients in Santos, Hess, Shell Development Australia and Fremantle Ports.

We will also continue to leverage the strengths of our staff in delivering high quality work from our offices in Perth to:

•  Consolidate and grow relationships with existing clients; and

•  Diversify our client base in our target industry sectors of oil and gas, particularly those involved in "unconventional" hydrocarbons.

Growth will be delivered by maintaining our office in Perth, and enhancing our training program with new customers.

Our strategy for 2012 has delivered value to our shareholders. It’s great to continue to return strong profitability and to reward the hard work of our staff by once again paying profit-based bonuses in 2012.

We are very confident that our continued presence in Perth, Roma (QLD), and in the Bakken, and our current focus on "unconventional" hydrocarbons means we're on the leading edge of the breaking wave in energy supply.

We are excited about our future and our growth plans are realistic and sustainable.

Pump Jacks in Synch

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Here are a couple of nice photographs of pumping units in synch with each other.  The effect is rather magnificant! 

Hope you like them.

 

Australian Gas Technology Conference and Exhibition

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 28, 2012

The Australian Gas Technology Conference will take place between the 25th and 27th July, 2012 at the Perth Conference Centre in Western Australia.

The AGT Conference has been developed by a select committee chaired by The University of Western Australia, Energy and Minerals Institute.

The AGT Conference includes presentations from Chevron, Woodside and Shell and the program includes sessions on:
 
• Gas Technology;
 
• Innovation;
 
• Unconventional Gas and Energy Security;
 
• Resourcing Skills Shortage; and
 
• Geosequestration.

 

 


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