January 02, 2013

Shale in context

Shale guru Nick Grealy is making some predictions for the next few years, putting shale in context - which is international. There will be huge supplies of shale oil and gas, and "changes in demand that will go further than transportation, generation and process industries".

He suggests that European Greens who don't become pragmatic about shale will go down to defeats that will be enough to make them irrelevant.

We're only at the first baby steps of shale, he claims. "We are on the cusp of a technology led energy revolution that will make the Internet look like peanuts."

Even the EU will have to come round, says Nick. How quickly? Stop dawdling, says Matt Ridley:
In the time it has taken Britain’s Government to decide whether to allow a fifth exploratory shale gas well to be drilled in Lancashire, and from the same standing start, the same investors have drilled 72 producing wells in Argentina. That the country of Watt and Stephenson should look a potential cheap-energy gift horse in the mouth in this way is staggering to this jaded optimist.
Government should step back as far as possible from regulation, he urges. History shows bureaucracy stifles innovation and progress.

So look at what Douglas Carswell calls his "random list" of things that show the world is getting better.

He lists internet broadband (the big one - disintermediation in all sorts of ways, from shopping to science); less deference; mobile cameras (a big deal?); 24 hour supermarkets; good news from Africa; Britain is less boozy (apparently); cheap travel; and a cleaner environment.

What part did the UK government play in any of these? Perhaps it had a role in the last one. But as to the rest? Maybe government is less able to influence the big trends than we (and they) think.

In the case of shale the government can continue to do harm by delaying the time when we start to get the benefits here. But it won't be able to do anything at all about the exploitation of shale worldwide and the changes it will unleash.

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