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The Fruits of Fracking
Shale Passes a Big Transatlantic Milestone…

…and unfortunately for the UK, it’s not about Britain exploring its own sizable reserves of shale gas. No, the only way our neighbors across the pond are going to get their hands on shale gas these days seems to be if we ship it to them. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen next week when the first cargo of American LNG arrives in a Scottish port. Reuters reports:

Chemicals giant Ineos will be importing ethane, obtained from rocks fractured at high pressure, in a foretaste of larger deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from shale set to reach Europe in 2018.

The shipment of ethane, used to make plastics, anti-freeze and detergents, will arrive in Scotland’s Firth of Forth on Tuesday, accompanied by a lone Scots piper at sunrise, the company said.

There’s an unmissable bit of irony in the fact that the UK’s first shale gas cargo will be unloaded at a Scottish port. After all, Scotland has placed a moratorium on fracking itself. Those aren’t unrelated, either: the company importing this shale-derived ethane would surely like to source it more locally to avoid the shipping costs, but popular and political opposition is making that impossible in Scotland today.

As North Sea oil reserves dwindle and the costs of decommissioning the massive rigs plumbing those offshore fields mount, Scotland and the rest of the UK is going to need to take a hard look at its domestic energy options. Once it does, it won’t take much time to come to the conclusion that shale hydrocarbons can and should play an important role in shoring up British energy security in the 21st century.

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  • Blackbeard

    “As North Sea oil reserves dwindle and the costs of decommissioning the massive rigs plumbing those offshore fields mount, Scotland and the rest of the UK is going to need to take a hard look at its domestic energy options.”

    Welcome to the 21st century: voluntary energy poverty.

  • Andrew Allison

    You missed the point. The loss of North Sea oil revenue makes Scotland utterly dependent upon handouts from England. The SNP, of course, would happily consign Scotland to penury in exchange for complete power. If the Scots go along, they’ll get the government, and economy, they deserve.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Scotland under the SNP = North Korea with less interesting cuisine

      • Tom

        No. The SNP isn’t nearly competent enough to pull off something like that. Think Venezuela with a Scottish burr.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Not so sure….Sturgeon could probably teach Lady MacBeth a thing or two….

          • Tom

            Sturgeon has never been in the position of actually having to exercise power, so far as I know. I suspect she would be a less-competent Obama.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Ah, but this isn’t about governing, it is about seizing power….in that I see Sturgeon as frighteningly competent.
            Note: I agree with you regarding her ability govern, in that she is just like Obama. With that said, however, it is largely beside the point…the damage will be done.

      • rheddles

        Obviously you’ve never tried the haggas.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Actually I have (see my comment to Andrew, above)

        • Josephbleau

          we speak of Haggis but ignore the beauty of Loch Fyne oysters and Oban Whiskey. Rice, Potatoes, Corn, and Herring were invented to keep the poor alive to serve the sasinachs.

      • Andrew Allison

        Not any more. The last time my wife and I were there we were very impressed by the food. Of course, whether the 99%, i.e., not SNP-mucky-mucks, would be able to afford the food in an independent Scotland is questionable. In N. Korea, the issue is the absence of food of any sort.
        As an aside, a friend of a friend in Latvia who visited the US said that the food was so bad she’s going to take her own next time.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I still have nightmares about a haggis I had in the airport at Glasgow (very long and funny story actually….)
          I have never been to North Korea, but my understanding from several close contacts who have is that if you are in the privileged class (what the old Soviets would refer to as the nomenklatura) you eat reasonably well. Of course this is typically the way of things in communist dictatorships, if you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend Paul Hollander’s wonderful book “Political Pilgrims” for some illuminating insights into the phenomenon…
          So Latvians don’t care for American food? Where was she visiting?

          • Andrew Allison

            When was the last time any food purchased at an airport was representative? We quite enjoyed our Haggis.
            Don’t know where she was visiting, but my wife was in the FL Panhandle last year and couldn’t find any good food (we’re, admittedly, foodies). Our local favorites are French, Italian, Japanese (sashimi), Chinese, Thai and Indian [grin], and we really enjoyed the food in the Baltics.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Airport food is almost always awful, but Glasgow in general (and haggises in particular…grin…) are wretched. Granted, this particular experience was almost 40 years ago, and I have little doubt that things there have improved. I had some truly amazing French cuisine the last time I was in Edingurgh about 7 years ago at a place called La Garrigue. If you have the opportunity, check it out!
            I am something of a foodie myself (I have been on a sous-vide kick recently….am building a second one now!), but it is rare that I cannot find at least something decent to eat. The Panhandle isn’t a really great environment for food, but I am surprised that some of the less adventurous seafood options weren’t available at the very least. Ah well…
            I hope you won’t mind me asking, but where are you located? I am in KC, which frankly shocked me when I first moved here as the food selection is quite good…

          • Andrew Allison

            The Panhandle seafood received particular scorn.
            We live in mid-Carmel Valley, six miles inland from the coast — rural, but within easy reach of all that the Monterey Peninsula has to offer. As an aside, despite record CO2 levels, this summer has been 3.5 degrees BELOW normal temperature in central coastal CA.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I used to work out of Monterey, what a beautiful area….
            KC has nice people, great food, and is as ugly as your area is beautiful….sigh…

        • Jacksonian_Libertarian

          I see the food isn’t so bad that she doesn’t want to visit the US again. I would think if visiting America was so onerous she would go to some place else where she’s never been, rather than repeating an American visit.

      • Josephbleau

        Kimchee vs Haggis. I am an ethnic Scott who is so happy my ancestors were “cleared” from the highlands by the evil king.

        • f1b0nacc1

          A very close friend of mine (a Scot) tells me that a Haggis is God’s price to the Scots for the loveliness of their women…

  • Pete

    Sure, export LNG to Europe — as long as the pay.

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