Reports on Wales Online talk of fracking in Wales being killed off for decades by the low oil price.

This is excellent news, especially for Wales. However, read the article carefully and you will see the it is also a call to arms for Ryedale on two grounds:

• Prof Jones is probably right in saying that the oil price needs to rise to $120 a barrel before it becomes economically viable to frack. Whilst oil at $30 pb will delay fracking, nothing remains the same for ever. Yes, supplies of energy from clean sources will rise, keeping the oil price down. However, its also true that ‘the cure for low prices is low prices’. Demand will rise and the price of oil will recover (indeed WTI rose 20% in three days last week) and fracking will become economically viable, a view held by Aberystwyth University economist Peter Midmore

• Prof Jones goes on to say that fracking in Wales is not viable for economic and political reasons. He then states that, even though it might be five or ten years away, ‘I would imagine the North of England would see the bulk of initial fracking in the UK’. Prof Barron talks about the use of new technologies for extracting gas and oil, which could really turn Ryedale into a giant test bed

It seems to me the article is a powerful warning not to be complacent. This could be a long war, characterised by sudden bursts of activity between long periods of inactivity – a dangerous breeding ground for apathy, complacency and dropped guards.

There is also an opportunity to be imaginative here. The battle cry of Dad’s Army’s ARP Warden Hodges is ‘Put that light out’. If low energy prices will keep fracking at bay then, in the spirit of Walmington-on-Sea, every unnecessary light we turn out, every trip in the car we don’t take, every degree we don’t heat the house, every old light bulb we replace with a low energy LED light, every piece of equipment we turn off rather than leave on standby, every new piece of home insulation (and I believe grants are still available) has a negative impact on energy demand (and a positive impact on household bank balances). The contribution of a single household will be minimal. The impact if everyone does it could be significant.

(Photo credit: Wales Online)