Every story paints a picture

Oliver Valves sounds like a minor character from a Goon Show episode  In fact, it’s a manufacturing firm in Cheshire.

The Telegraph asked the boss for his thoughts on yesterday’s budget statement. He liked less corporation tax and more help for exporters.

Then he got on to energy:

“While the Prime Minister is talking rubbish about wind farms, I’m also really pleased the Chancellor is talking of shale gas. If you drill part of Lancashire, you can have enough gas and oil coming out of shale extraction to run Britain for the next 65 years, so why are we mucking about with wind farms?”

Lordy. And he has the cheek to accuse the PM of talking rubbish.

At first I thought these were the opinions of yet another all-round business person whose natural over-optimism had been stimulated by the tall tales told by the shale fairy.

Then I checked out his business and realised he is simply talking his book. Oliver Valves sells stuff to the oil and gas industry.

Shale is the perfect pitch for suppliers. Rapidly-depleting wells lead to frenzy of drilling and piping as gas companies run faster and faster just to maintain production. Crap economics for the producers but great business for their supply chain while it lasts.

By all means give shale gas in Lancashire a try. But don’t make us laugh by trying to pretend that punching a couple of holes will put Britain straight for 65 years. More like 6.5 years – even if Lancashire and many other places get punctured like pin cushions.

Still, if there’s a prize for summing up the shale gas canard in 100 words or less, the Telegraph piece should make it on to the short-list.

Sadly for all of us in advanced industrial countries, the high oil and gas prices that make shale economic in the short term are slowly killing demand for oil and gas. In turn, that is slowly killing our iteration of high tech industrialisation.

You’d think we’d be trying all the options. Wind farms included. But hell no. It looks as though we’ll ride the technologies we know all the way to the bitter end.

Final scene from Dr Srangelove

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