AND FINALLY: Scottish shale save the whales

Shale gas exploration and hydraulic-fracturing – a ‘well’-proven and ‘well-established’ hydrocarbon process – has a bad reputation in the ‘green’ press.

But Graham Dean, of Reach CSG had a major piece of ‘good shale news’ which could help restore the industry’s reputation.

When a handful of Scottish energy pioneers invented the world’s first ‘shale age’ in West Lothian in the 1850s, they also lit the fuse that sparked a global oil industry as Scottish technology and know-how was exported to Oil River Creek in Pennsylvania. And the rest – Standard Oil, BP, Shell, etc – is history

But the Scottish shale industry also save the whales because it was refined into paraffin for lighting, and – as the industry developed – into motor and aviation fuel (the Pumpherston refinery was known as being the home of ‘Spitfire fuel’ during the second world war).

For example, the ‘America’ was built in 1865 by Stephens of Dundee for D. Bruce, manager of the Dundee Seal and Whale Fishing Company. In 1891 while hunting in the Davis Straits and off Newfoundland, she caught 20,000 seals and, in another hunt, landed 135 tons of whale oil.

Almost overnight, the largely-Dundee based Scottish whaling industry collapsed as whale oil fell from £50-ton to £20; hence the legend: Scottish shale oil saves the whales.

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