Friday, September 19, 2008


How to Prospect for Oil

Check if your garden’s on fire
Crude oil is the fossilised remains of tiny animals and plants who snuffed it millions of years ago. Over aeons the layers of organic material were compressed by overlying rock and sediment to create the thick treacly substance that BP and Shell etc. turn into motor lubricant, calor gas, scratchy jumpers, and petrol. Wherever oil is found in abundance it seeps up through the earth to form tar pits. These sometimes burst into flame spontaneously.

Borrow a vibrator
In the absence of a blazing inferno by your garden shed, you need to find good source rock: like the classic oil-bearing limestones, clays, and shales. If the terrain looks hopeful, then you have to test it: by directing sound waves through the earth. You can use a truck mounted ‘vibrator’: bit bigger than the girlfriend’s. Or you can explode small charges and monitor the results. Like a lawsuit from the neighbours.

See if she gushes
No matter how promising the results of your seismic tests, the only sure way to find out if there’s a recoverable reservoir of oil is by drilling. First off you sink a borehole. Then you send down a ‘sniffer’: a sort of hi-tech nose. If these work out it’s time to install a proper well and pump. This type of independent oil exploration is called ‘wildcatting’ and in the US it’s reckoned one in ten wildcats produce a ‘bonanza’ - a seriously profitable oil strike. A gusher.

Move to Bournemouth
Although 70% of the world’s million billion barrels of oil are located in Arabia, do not despair. You can always try Dorset. Yep, believe it or not, the UK has a small but lucrative onshore oil industry, much of it in the southern English chalk and limestone belt, much of it privately owned. Wytch Farm, in Purbeck, is western Europe’s largest onshore oilfield. Nearby Kimmeridge has had a ‘nodding donkey pump’ for decades. Oop North the West Firby oil fields of Lincolnshire make a shekel, likewise the gas fields of Pickering, Yorkshire.

Buy that private jet
Should you hit lucky, and get a licence from the Secretary of State for Energy to run a wildcat in your nan’s allotment, you’re in the bucks. Even a tiny independently-run oilfield like Goodwith, in Sussex (the Kent-Sussex Weald has been producing oil since 1895), is said to be good for 300 barrels of oil a day, for another fifteen years. Now, a barrel of Brent Crude fetches about £70 in the market. You do the math.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Warming Down

Oxford Street, central London, yesterday. NOT.

A Change in the Climate?

Sometimes it takes enormous changes to shift a scientific paradigm. Sometimes these changes are accompanied by religious and cultural strife - even violence. Just think of the brutal passions that surrounded Galileo, and the shift to a Copernican, heliocentric view of the solar system.

And then there are the times when an established scientific theory just turns, overnight, into a joke. And everyone laughs at the naked emperor.

It is possible the great scientific paradigm of the moment - climate change, or global warming, has reached just such a jocular moment. Right now a team of brave men are busy kayaking their way to the North Pole, as part of the Polar Defense Project.

Their aim is to show how the ice is now so thin - dissolved by global warming - that the entire pole is navigable. Their noble campaign is, naturally, just a tiny part of the huge crusading consensus that surrounds the issue of warming: this global warming theory is so established it wins Oscars for its documentary makers and huge budgets for its scientific evangelisers, while governments across the world kowtow to its power. Meanwhile, any dissenters are regarded as mavericks - or worse. Some of the most aggressive "warmists" have threatened to imprison oil company executives just for being oil company executives.

Only trouble is the guys in the North Pole kayaks trying to prove there is no ice just got stuck. In ice.

OK, this could just be seen as bad luck. Let's face it, they're in the North Pole, in canoes. You might expect a bit of ice. Unless you were the most dogmatic of the Global Warming Wahabbis.

But this evidence now sits alongside a whole range of data that, at the very least, question the tenets of the Taliban of Temperature Increase. Look at Britain's summer. England has just experienced its cloudiest, dullest August almost since records began. Ireland's had the wettest summer in a century and a half. Sun spot activity is now at an all-time and unprecedented low - a phenomenon usually associated with dangerous global COOLING.

That's right, global cooling. And funnily enough global temperatures have, in the last ten years, actually flatlined, or even cooled. Not something you often hear mentioned by the Wee Free Presbyterians of Warmism.

Perhaps it is time for a paradigm change, or at least a little paradigm Questioning?