UK fracking firm produces first shale gas

UK energy company Cuadrilla said it has extracted a small but “encouraging” amount of shale gas for the first time since resuming fracking in Britain less than three weeks ago. (AFP)
Updated 03 November 2018
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UK fracking firm produces first shale gas

LONDON: UK energy company Cuadrilla said Friday it has extracted a small but “encouraging” amount of shale gas for the first time since resuming fracking in Britain less than three weeks ago.
The 11-year-old private firm has borne the brunt of protests for trying to test whether fracking — a process in which water and chemicals are used to blast apart rock formations — can unlock natural gas deposits in the UK.
The method has transformed the global energy market but is only developing slowly in Europe.
“The volumes of gas returning to surface at this stage are small,” Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said in a statement.
“However it provides early encouragement that the Bowland Shale can provide a significant source of natural gas to heat Lancashire and UK homes and offices and reduce our ever growing reliance on expensive foreign imports.”
Government data show natural gas being used to meet around 40 percent of Britain’s power and nearly 90 percent of its heating needs.
But UK gas production rates have been falling and it became a net importer of the fuel in 2004.
Firms such as Cuadrilla are hoping to step in and begin meeting some of the demand that is now primarily being filled by energy-rich Norway.
Cuadrilla produced small amounts of shale gas at the same site in 2011.
It was then forced to halt operations because two small earthquakes were soon registered in the northwestern part of England where its operations are based.
It resumed work on October 15 after adopting more stringent safety and regulatory measures that environmentalists said were still insufficient.
The company has since been forced to briefly halt drilling on three occasions because minor tremors began being detected deep underground.
Cuadrilla stressed at the time that none of them could either be felt or cause physical damage on the surface.
“This Preston New Road site is being monitored to an unprecedented level,” Egan said in Friday’s statement.
Greenpeace UK chief John Sauven called the fracking announcement a blow to campaigners’ efforts to win government backing for alternative fuels such as wind power.
“It is truly bewildering how little fossil fuel companies need to offer in order to get whole-hearted, full-throated government support, and how much clean technologies can offer and still be blocked,” Sauven said.
Cuadrilla said on its website that tests from 2011 suggest it can produce 6.5 billion cubic feet (185 million cubic meters) of gas from the Bowland Shale well over 30 years.
The figure corresponds to about five times the volume of gas produced in Britain last year.


Tesla recalls more than 14,000 cars in China over Takata airbags

Updated 18 January 2019
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Tesla recalls more than 14,000 cars in China over Takata airbags

  • The US giant has already announced the recall of some Model S vehicles as part of a global industry-wide rooting out of parts made by Takata
  • The affected vehicles in China are Model S cars made between February 2014 and December 2016

SHANGHAI: Electric-vehicle maker Tesla will recall 14,123 cars in China over airbags that contained a part made by now-defunct Japanese manufacturer Takata, the Chinese market regulator announced on Friday.
The US giant has already announced the recall of some Model S vehicles as part of a global industry-wide rooting out of parts made by Takata, which went bust in 2017 after its airbags were blamed for a number of deaths.
The affected vehicles in China are Model S cars made between February 2014 and December 2016, the State Administration of Market Regulation said.
It said the cars’ passenger-side airbags were equipped with an ammonium nitrate propellant made by Takata, which was at risk of breakage that could result in the ejection of debris.
Tesla will replace them, it said.
Tesla declined comment on Friday, but an announcement on its website said the “recall of the front passenger airbags in 2012 Model S vehicles began in January 2017, was extended to 2013 Model S vehicles in January 2018, and is now being extended to 2014-2016 Model S vehicles in January 2019.”
Tesla does not announce how many cars it sells in China overall.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on hand earlier this month for the ground-breaking of a factory outside Shanghai, which the company says will eventually have an annual production capacity of 500,000 and is geared toward meeting growing Chinese demand for electric vehicles.