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Shale Gas Use and Implications

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shale gas and its implications

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There is a perfect statement to describe the current demand of natural resources all around the world. That statement is: when giants collide. We need natural resources in order to preserve and improve our current living conditions. Until the moment when green energy will become more viable in economic terms we must accept the current domination of oil and natural gas. Because natural gas and oil are the cornerstone of our current activities the players which control them can also alter our economic conditions (remember the OPEC decision after the Yom Kippur War), and even structural or behavioural changes which can occur inside the main players can affect the entire world – at a certain point in the past a conflict in Nigeria decreased Shell’s production by 10 percent.

Many books and articles are talking about oil and they use apocalyptic tones, predicting in this way the end of oil. But recently a new kind of player emerged on the natural resources “market”. I am talking about shale gas. There many interesting questions and disputes around this type of resource.

Also Read: Protests in UK over shale gas test drilling

What is shale gas?

Shale gas is a type of natural gas. This type of gas can be found in different rocks like: sandstone, limestone and shale rocks. Each type has different characteristics. For example, sandstone rocks usually have high permeability while shale rocks have very low permeability. As a conclusion, exploiting the gas from sandstone rocks is cheaper than from shale rocks. Shale gas can also be labeled as unconventional gas because in order to use it or to get to it you need more elaborate production method. All around the world the current method is the hydraulic fracturing.

What is hydraulic fracturing?

This is a very technical process and in order to fully understand it, you must have a strong background in this kind of activity. In plain English this method can be explained like this. Because every geologic formation is unique also each fracturing operation has unique traits. The basic idea of this method is that in order to extend tiny cracks from a sedimentary/limestone/shale or sandstone formation you are using a combination of water, sand and chemicals like methane at very high pressures. Shale gas is an unconventional source of resources because is “stored” in the rock itself.

There is a huge risk when we are talking about hydraulic fracturing because of the possible pollution of drinking water from methane and all the other chemicals which are used during the process.  Another problem is the fact that when fracturing is used in order to exploit shale gas deposits small intensity earthquakes are generated by the huge pressure of the compound which is injected. These micro-earthquakes can combine themselves with the natural occurring movements of Earth crust and they can trigger a large-scale earthquake.

Another phenomenon can occur during this process – it is called the flow-back phase and is the moment when the fracturing fluid is returning to the surface. As mentioned before this fluid contains methane. This substance can act as a greenhouse gas so it can accelerate the global warming process.

Another issue is the amount of water used in this process. Water is a scarce resource and using water in arid regions to exploit shale gas damages the water supply capabilities of that area – local communities are affected.

The United States and shale gas

Natural gas is very important for the US – ¼ of the country’s total energy comes from natural gas so the economic implications of natural gas are very important. At this moment according to the EIA shale gas accounts for 30 percent of total US natural gas production. Shale gas comes with certain economic advantages or economic gains: lower prices, an increase in the number of domestic jobs (for example in the last years 200.000 direct or indirect jobs were created by this industry only in the United States).

Another important advantage is that shale gas usage is increasing, enhancing US national security by reducing dependence on foreign sources: Middle East is a volatile region and a good example here is the moment when Barack Obama decided to move near Syria some battleships – the Brent and Crude oil prices climbed very fast on the international stock markets. Another good example is the moment when Russia stopped gas deliveries to Ukraine a few years ago. If we are looking at the problem of natural resources through the lenses of security, oil and natural gas can be used as leverage or even diplomatic weapons and no rational player will accept to enter in this kind of game.

On March 31, 2011 Barack Obama said that the recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves – perhaps a century’s worth of shale gas! If we are looking at this statement from a temporal perspective he is right: in 2001, the shale gas production represented 2% of the total natural gas production in the United States and now we are talking about 30 percent. The Haynesville shale was negligible in 2008 but now the same shale field offers 8% of the entire shale gas production from US. Now imagine the improvements in technology in 10 – 20 years. The current 30 percent share will definitely increase!

The world needs stability, craves for balance. We, as a society we need more and more in order to evolve, in order to satisfy our increasing demands and our planet is a finite space. This is the root of the problem and there are two possibilities. Either we pollute and develop now in a very rapid pace in order to discover better, safer and cleaner technologies, either we stop from our current expansion. Which side are you on?

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Environment

Saving the Planet? It Is a Local Issue

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When we get caught up in common environmental issues, we start to think that it’s a bigger problem, that is down to centralised areas and big cities. And while urban areas are expanding, the route to sustainability as a solution comes from an approach beyond urbanism. Because urban areas bear the brunt because they have more CO2 emissions and larger carbon footprints, the thing to note in this respect that saving the planet is not necessarily a large-scale issue. In fact, it is a local issue. 

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The largest cities require urban developments, and this is a part of modern life. But when we go back to the 1990s, when sustainable city initiatives began emerging, we can see where the argument for the compact city began. This can have a positive impact on sustainability in a variety of ways but also improves greenhouse gas emissions. But this is where smaller communities can become invaluable. 

Smaller communities have more power in many respects. From the perspective of local councils, it can be easier to incorporate an initiative that benefits the community, rather than having to go all the way to Westminster. Now, it can be easier to sign up for a local initiative, such as a solar community, rather than having to get permission from a higher power. And from the perspective of a community, it is far more controllable.

Saving the planet in an urban sense is about changing the infrastructure, which can take years, if not decades. However, smaller communities are able to utilise the location for the benefit of their immediate surroundings. This is something very important to note. Whenever you want to make a significant impact, be it in charity, or in the environment, it starts at home. As saving the planet is a local issue in this respect, it’s far easier to communicate the message. Smaller communities are in close contact. This means the message is easily spread. Throw into the mix community meetings, and how businesses look to develop on local issues, rather than spearheading initiatives overseas or in big cities, and it provides a tactical methodology to help on a small scale. 

When you combine this with the fact that smaller organisations such as schools, naturally have a lower carbon footprint, this is the perfect opportunity to teach the younger generations how they can positively impact the world. Saving the planet is a local issue. We have to remember that if we are to make any impact, we have to look after our own. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t rely on large organisations or big cities to do the job, but if you want to do something right, do it yourself. 

Saving the planet is something that we can control from our own home. From the practices that we preach to the examples we set, saving the planet is about keeping it close to home before you start to spread yourself far and wide. If every small town started to look after its own carbon emissions, this would pay for the country, and the world, several times over.

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Integrating Waste Management To Improve Business Productivity

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Recently, governments have increased their incentives on business to employ environmentally friendly methods in their production lines. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that businesses are working round the clock to ensure that they adhere to the regulations.

Business waste management requires a collective effort from all the stakeholders. The employees and customers need to be sensitized on the importance of environmentally friendly practices to boost their eco-performance. 

Reduce Wastage

Production in business usually has many wastes ranging from energy wastage, residues, or solid wastes. You need to assess your production plan from purchasing, production, documentation, and packaging. Once you have assessed, identify the key areas that you can work on to minimize usage and wastage.

Packaging

It would be best if you considered using biodegradable packaging materials that will reduce paper wastage. There are packaging materials that you can use that will help you cut on paper and plastic wastage. You can also choose to bulk purchase of materials needed to reduce the amount of packaging paper you will have.

Electrical Systems

In the past, electrical wires were manufactured using cloth wires to enhance insulation, longevity, and safety in the workplace. You easily damage the wires during daily production activities, and its disposal could create large volumes of unnecessary plastics. 

Though you can recycle these wastes, the costs incurred compared to the systems’ service is a loss to the business. However, this industrial practice has been discontinued and restructured to alternative uses due to technological advancements.

Energy Sources

Using Renewable Energy Sources also plays a significant role in reducing energy wastage. There will be fewer emissions into the environment, and you will also reduce the energy costs you use. The employees need to be sensitized on efficient energy management practices like switching off machines and lights that are not in use, proper usage of specific equipment, and immediate repair and service of machines once they break down.

Building and Construction

Contractors involved in building and construction have included energy and environmental management in their practice. Several businesses have taken the liberty to redesign the buildings to use efficient energy sources and recycled materials. This development is a step in the right direction of environmental management.

Solid Wastes 

The wastes in the business need to be properly disposed of to observe hygiene and cleanliness. Poor garbage disposal techniques will endanger the health of the employees and the immediate community.

It would help if you employed recycling techniques like water treatment plants in the industry to reduce the toxicity of the waste. The types of strainers, baskets, and traps used in the water treatment plant play a significant role in the quality of the process equipment.

To ascertain the water treatment plant’s quality, you need to take a keen interest in the types of weaving employed in its manufacture. Be sure to investigate if the weaving matches your purpose of the plant and your content of waste. 

Waste management is a gradual process that has its profitable returns. It helps you to cut down on some costs and increases productivity. 

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How To Save Water At Work

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When you’re at home, you know how to save water and do better for your house. Living in a green way is easy at home, but what about at work? When you are not the owner of a business premises, it’s not always easy to be green. However, there are things that you can do as a business that will ensure that you are analyzing your water efficiency and you can then reduce the water use in your workplace.

Below, we’ve put together some of the best ways that you can conserve water in your workplace. You can continue your green efforts in the workplace this way!

Get Your Management Team On Your Side

If you are planning to start water conservation efforts at work, you need the rest of your management team on your side. They need to be happy to work with you and ensure that your water conservation efforts are successful. If you’re working as one team, you’re far more likely to save the planet a little aggravation and you can successfully prevent flooding, too.

Research 

You need to know the best ways to conserve water, and we’re willing to bet that you haven’t looked at whether you can get permission from your landlord about installing water tanks from  watertankfactory.com.au/water-tanks-dalby/. You need to research what you can and cannot do in terms of saving water in any way possible. 

Put Together A List

You need to know why you are saving water and what it will be for. Filtering rainwater for free, drinkable water in the office is a genius way to keep employees cool. You can also use it for the external garden of your business, as a way to flush the toilets and you can also use it to clean the floors. 

Know How You Already Use Your Water

How does your business consume water? Where is it mostly used through the working week? If you can ensure that you are using your water properly, you will be able to encourage your staff to do the same thing. Conservation only works when everyone is on board!

Bring In The Experts

Do you have leaky faucets? Are you dealing with pipes that are broken or cracked in any way? Any of these things can cause your water payments to shoot right up. Bringing in the experts to assess your current water systems and evaluate your pipework is the best way to ensure that you are saving water. You can stop the waste when you have someone in to assess what you are dealing with.

Save It

By buying rainwater tanks and saving the rainfall, you can use less of the water from the faucets and the pipes in the building. You can add a good filtration system and this will help you to get rid of the nasties in the water and reduce the contaminants that you could be facing.

Water conservation is not just for your house. And now you know how to get it right!

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