rashbre central: September 2022

Wednesday 28 September 2022


I used to advise some energy sector clients and this inevitably means hanging around in corporate entrance lobbies waiting to see individuals. One that particularly struck me was a lobby showcasing fracking and the extraction of oil from sand. I seem to remember it was a Canadian story and the walls of the room had a few pictures. 

Recently, I've seen Jacob Rees-Mogg break cover to smooth over the fracking story with oleaginous contempt for any challenges.  I remember being dismayed by those original lobby pictures I saw, so I wondered what 'levelling up' stories would now be applied to the UK. I see one right wing newspaper is saying how great it is that the north of England has so many fracking opportunities. The potential appeals to  'Red Wall' country?

The Cuadrilla maps don't quite tell the whole story though. By looking at a geo-survey of aquifers and shale it is possible to see that the target zones could drop right into the rich Tory heartlands of the south-east. One of those red squares appears to land on Guildford. Hold that thought.

I remembered the lobby depicted activity around Alberta, so I thought I'd take a look at how things are going. Here's a picture of the effect around an oil sands bitumen recovery site.

An example mine would produce 260,000 barrels per day of bitumen at its peak, cover 24,000 thousand hectares and — during its 41-year lifespan — tap into reserves in the neighbourhood of 3.2 billion barrels. 

The bitumen requires processing to turn into oil, although some places directly burn the bitumen to generate power. It is all a messy business. 

I haven't mentioned the shale gas yet, which is a euphemism for methane/methanol and is the other main target of the frackers. Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – is the process used to extract shale gas. 

Deep holes are drilled down into the shale rock, followed by horizontal drilling to access more of the gas, as shale reserves are typically distributed horizontally rather than vertically. Fracking fluids containing sand, water and chemicals are then pumped at high pressure into the drilled holes to open up fractures in the rock, enabling the trapped gas to flow into collection wells. The drillers explain that it entirely safe, aside from the occasional accidental fire.

From there it is piped away for commercial use. Methane is 25 times more toxic to the environment that carbon dioxide, so we don't want any of it to escape.  

This is another messy business and incorporates a few extra pipes and gadgets.

If all goes well, then there's money in that there Red Wall. 

If it goes wrong, we could see a few earth tremors or even some light flooding of the landscape - just like in Alberta.

A steady flow of oil leaking from the ground across four well sites includes the latest covering up to 40 hectares, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator. No one knows how to stop the leaks, which are ongoing.
Above ground the search for sites continues...

But Rees-Mogg insists it is all okay.  Is this what was meant by levelling?

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Insider knowledge?

A long time ago, when I was learning about economics, the pound to dollar was around 1: 2.40. Some may recognise that a cent was equivalent of an old LSD penny.

Recently, when I was changing money to go to Greece, I noticed that the pound had almost reached parity with the USdollar and that it was bouncing along at the same conversion rate as the €uro.

We've seen a record setting descent after the new Conservative Party budget. There, I've said it. Budget - although by not calling it a budget the Chancellor manages to avoid fiscal scrutiny. That's a Borisovian trick, if ever there was one.

What if a few hedge funds shorted the pound? (In other words, forward sold large quantities of currency they didn't have hoping to pick it up cheaply before their debt was called).

Unhinged Liz decided to host a dinner for hedge fund managers a few days before the KamiKwasi budget.  

With the massive hints provided, hedge funds with remarkably close links to the UK government made shed-loads of money. 

Everyone else was gobsmacked, to use an economist term. £45 billion in new borrowing for new tax breaks in a curious bid to revitalise an economy facing recession.

Someone likened the trickle down philosophy to hanging from a cliff waiting to be rescued yet the money being provided to the rope-making companies.

More a case of fall-down rather than trickle-down. No wonder one of her victory tweets said she was ‘ready to hit the ground on Day One’. Ouch.

I suggest the puppet-masters will use her to make the UK into a casino for the elite. The recent all-in currency play is merely a taste of the structural changes being discussed to turn UK into an international deregulated tax haven. 

Truss may have run for cover over the last few days (guilt or gilt?). There is certainly room for her in the icey hidey-holes that the previous PM used. It is probably easier than having to explain how the new debt will be absorbed. 

Let the Bank of England bond-buying commence.

Monday 26 September 2022

green policy disposal

The sun may never be enough to charge an electric car (eg optimistically 10 hours sun  at 3 kWh, compared with a car's capacity of over 60kWh), but I'm more suspicious of a government that creates green policies and incentives and then quietly disposes of them.

1 - Removal of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) incentive for solar panels. I did just scrape in to this one, which pays me for solar generation as well as export. The paperwork to get started as a micro systems generator was spectacular. The replacement scheme (Smart Export Guarantee) has low incentives for export, which were hardly generous in the prior scheme. Oh and the SEG scheme requires a smart meter as well.

2 - Smart Meter. I have a smart meter. I checked its spec and it is SMETS1 upgradeabkle to SMETS2. Most electric companies won't admit it though, and some used it as an excuse to not switch me to their cheaper tariffs. They say I need to have it replaced. It is a scandal that the UK spent 13.8 billion on smart meters, yet they mainly don't work. I am now with Octopus, who proved in a couple of days that my meter was fully smart.

3- Excuses used by other electricity providers: 'we can't switch you to a low tariff because of government policy' and other such bunkum which has stopped me for more than a year from getting a dual tariff system (eg Economy7 style). Thank you Octopus for fixing this.

4 - Taxing me at 20% VAT for use of electric vehicle charging when away from home, yet I can get 5% when on my own supply.

5- Removing the incentive to get a wall charger for an Electric Vehicle.

6 - Removing the 'discounts' to get an Electric Vehicle.

7 - Creating complicated 'type verification' to qualify for a Congestion Charge 100% discount in London. Three documents required including one from the car manufacturer. It is bonkers.

8 - Creating two separate applications for ULEZ charge reduction and Congestion Charge reduction in London. If I didn't apply for each, the default is that I pay both daily charges.

I think fracking will deserve a separate post.

Sunday 25 September 2022

charging the Tesla electric car

I've been keeping track of my mileage and running costs for fuel since I've had the electric car. 

Fascinating - I've had to become an anorak on pricing unit charges of electricity and their wild variations. 

I've travelled some 2,355 miles now and it's enough to gain an initial impression of the car and its range capabilities.


1) No range anxiety. It always adds an en-route stop if it thinks it will run dry and also predicts the remaining battery capacity to the end of the journey.

2) Several free charges - notably Westgate near Oxford and Tescos. And all Tesla Destination Chargers! https://www.tesla.com/en_gb/destination-charging

3) I always carry the spare Type 2 connector cable because often the free chargers are 'untethered' (ie don't have a connector) I also notice that many Tesla owners don't know how to charge from an 'ordinary' charge point and I've seen at least a dozen cars not charging because they've not been properly connected.

4) My practical full range is around 330 miles. Enough to get from Exeter to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Penrith or York. To Newcastle it is a one stop refill at Hilton Park Services near Birmingham.

5) Since I switched from British Gas to Octopus Intelligent, I have drastically reduced the cost of a recharge at home. A 0%-90% charge is £5.40 and a more typical 20%-90% charge is £3.78! That is much less than a tank of petrol or diesel. British Gas proved massively unhelpful (and expensive) whereas dealing with friendly and faultless Octopus exceeded my wildest expectations.

6) Octopus Intelligent works seamlessly with the Tesla App to manage the charging and to schedule it to the equivalent of 'Economy 7' times - although it will also spot other cheap periods in the day. I can also override the 'no charge' periods and get a charge at any time, if needed. from the Octopus App.

7) The convenience of the Tesla Supercharger helps justify the relatively expensive cost of a refill from one (albeit still cheaper than petrol). They charge at around 500 miles per hour. So a full charge is around half an hour. 

The Tesla car calculates how much it needs to get to the next destination, with a reserve safety factor. That is the most economical way to use the Supercharger, and some of the refill times are as little as 5 minutes. 

And there is that opportunity to experience the Tesla auto-park in reverse into the charging space.

If I go for a coffee, then a full refill might cost £20. But it is still much less than a gasoline top-up. And some of the refill stops (eg Holiday Inn) give discounts to Tesla drivers!

As we have a petrol car and had a diesel, I've shown comparative costs below. Both internal combustion engine cars can take £100 of fuel, but I've shown the scaled back costs to a range of 330 miles, which is the typical maximum I get from the Tesla.


The kWh capacity of my Tesla is actually higher than I've stated (82kWh), but I have set it to the more commonplace 72kWh.


By way of a comparison, the charge rates are roughly as follows:

  • UK Household mains plug:  9-10 mph (never used - really for if stuck somewhere)
  • Tesla Wall Charger: 32 mph (ie at home - and every day gives a full charge)
  • Public Locations  32 mph
  • Fast public chargers 50 mph (ie the 22kW chargers)
  • Tesla Destination Charger 32 mph (free)
  • Supermarkets 32 mph (sometimes free)
  • Tesla Supercharger (150kW-250kW)  300-500+ mph   (great for long distance)

The only connectors I've used are the ones on Tesla chargers and the blue Type 2 cable I carry in the car.


And how realistic are the range estimates? For Tesla - driving in 'Chill Mode', I'd say -'very'. I assume if I was driving in 'Sport' I'd get (10%-20%?) less.


Tactically, when I've been visiting someone, I've stopped on the way to recharge to '80% full', so that I'm at their place with an almost 'full tank'.


I know, it is probably too much information. And your mileage may vary, as they say.


Saturday 17 September 2022

Unexpected jab

A current post today. I'm mainly backfilling the last few weeks at the moment, but something quite interesting happened today. 

My iPhone reminded me that I was supposed to visit the surgery to get a flu jab. I'd forgotten about it because we're only just back from our Greek Idylls. 

Panic stations as I race out to the car, to go to the surgery. I start driving and realise that the iPhone has already downloaded the route into the car's satnav. The car knew where to take me without me doing anything. Now that's a new experience.

Then I get to the queue. I'd booked what I thought was an early appointment - to avoid backup, but so had everyone else around here, so there was a four deep queue running back along the pavement from the surgery. 

Then the magic of British queuing kicked in. We were all talking to one another, just like on t'telly at the moment. It may not have been THAT queue, but we had similar sentiments.

The thirty or so minutes I had to wait passed in a flash and I was soon inside, jabbed and ready to go.

Saturday 10 September 2022


Somewhat hilly with a single route into the town, with its alley-like paths and myriad shops. Finally, to a bayside beach, complete with cool, clear waters. Further inland it was jarring to see at least two dried river beds, both 100 metres wide.

Friday 9 September 2022


One of those annoying poolside pictures. Pass the cocktail.

Thursday 8 September 2022


The only head of state I've known. Total discretion yet my admiration for her private signals of opinion.

Wednesday 7 September 2022


Experimenting with the nearby airport. A ten-minute taxi ride and then a four hour flight to a land of 33C sunshine. It's been worth the wait.

Tuesday 6 September 2022