Critique of ‘What is Fracking’, written by Dr Tim Thornton

(By Ken Wilkinson BSc and 12 years experience as an engineer on oil rigs. comments in red italics)

Available on


Incorrect. This is nothing like what is proposed, anywhere in the UK. Wellpad spacing of 5km with 2.5 km laterals (horizontal wells) mean a very small surface impact. If there are 20 or more wells on a pad, all the better. Huge amounts of gas from a small pad that will produce for decades.


Incorrect. There will be no flaring at KM, as there is an existing pipeline network to do a ‘green completion’

Any flaring anyway is done in enclosed high efficiency low noise burners that emit water and CO2 and nothing else. Required by EA.


Incorrect.  See any number of ‘Facts about Fracking’ leaflets from UK Govt. Also this training PPT for the EA indicates this has been designed for UK onshore shale industry specifically. and this link


Incorrect. There is a dedicated shale gas team set up, and inspection and licencing is done with a joint arrangement with the HSE.


Really? So how did the 8 wells in Kirby Misperton get drilled with no one noticing?


Incorrect.  Chemicals are required to be ‘non hazardous’ and they have to be declared. That has always been the case, with all drilling information, for decades in the UK. You are looking at the US experience that is totally different. See para 4 of


True,  re heavy metals but they will not impact anyone! Gases cause nerve damage? Really? Which ones? Total gas security is required. That is why the disposal of these materials is so heavily regulated. Do you really think it will be dumped in a river without licence? No other industry can do that?


And it has been used safely in industry for decades.


You do not appear to understand the difference between a barrier leak and an integrity leak. Currently in the UK out of 8500+ wells, none are leaking. See


None noted in EIAs done for other companies. All indicate ‘low or insignificant impact’


‘Given the methane leaks, the overall carbon footprint of fracked gas is worse than a coal power station’

Nonsense. This is based on the dated Howarth study, funded by the anti-lobby. See a proper review of risks on

There are many other studies that have shown leaks in the US to be a reducing problem.


Poppycock. Check with Lee Petts of Remsol. There are many ways to clean up the fluid, prior to disposal under licence. Much will be reinjected anyway, on the next frack job. Disposal has to meet requirements of the EA licencing.


Incorrect. You clearly do not have a clue about seismic surveys, well logging, measurement while drilling etc. Are you not aware that microseismic monitoring is carried out? That measures the underground progress of a frack job in real time. 


So it’s a good job that the various agencies (HSE, EA, BGS,  HPE, DECC etc) have looked at this in great detail and in all aspects. There are risks with anything, but these have been looked at and are low risk.

It’s also good that these risks were all identified by the Royal Academy of Engineering report into shale gas. See

Similarly the Scottish Govt also had an expert review, as have dozens of other US States, all of Europes geological societies, the European Science Advisory Council (EASAC), etc .


Many may well believe this, but that research has all been done. See above.


The experts say it is safe, the science has been done. I gather you have had some of this advice from the discredited and out of touch ex professor and B and B specialaist David Smythe (retired 18 years). See

And a review by a current expert in the field, Dr James Verdon.


There is a lot of other well documented information on many aspects of concern in


Critique by

Ken Wilkinson BSc Hons Manchester University 1971/74. Oil rig engineer, (Wireline) for Schlumberger and Halliburton for 12 years.(74 to 89 with a break). I was the most senior engineer in my last post, dealing with problem wells and customers.