Fracture the price of oil to understand why gas is still high
Your correspondent Mike Lillico called fracking a new American technology. This is a common misconception. He is adopting the Luddite media’s shorthand for “We hate business” though he does not think that himself. Mr. Lillico is a pretty sharp and sensible fellow and his comments are sound. But the public should not be taken in by ill-informed leftist propaganda. Fracking is being promoted as a scare word. It should not be.
Fracking technology has roots going as far back as the tail end of the 19th century. After WWII it started being used extensively. Millions of wells have employed the method across the globe since then. It really is old hat.
What is new is the development of deep well horizontal drilling. It is an amazing technology that presently allows deposit veins to be followed sideways for nearly two miles. Sensor technology creates smart paths, as opposed to simple blind linear routes, to be followed enabling cost effective exploitation of the resource. It accurately follows nature’s twists and turns miles below the earth’s surface. This is all the result of a highly sophisticated machine tool industry, advances in chemical testing, sonar imaging and analysis and much more. This marriage of many sciences has produced a great uptick in oil production much centered for the time being around the center of the modern oil industry, Texas.
Of all the necessary components of a successful fracking well, fracking itself is the oldest. It is your grandfather’s hotrod. There is R & D promising more to come. Majorca is lucky to be getting into the oil game on the crest of this explosion of efficiency and wealth creation, even at today’s low wellhead prices. If Spain really wants to cash in on the benefits of low transportation and energy costs it should consider lowering taxes. When you look at the sluggish decline of the per liter price at the gas pump you will find that taxes are the problem not oil extraction or refining.
Island Falls, Maine USA
An Open Letter to the Balearic Ministry of Tourism
Dear Tourist Board,
You are no doubt aware of the articles, editorials, and numerous letters which have appeared in the Majorca Daily Bulletin over the past few weeks regarding winter tourism and flights. I have personally been responsible for a number of these and, contrary to what you might think, I do not take any pleasure in sitting at my computer and writing these letters. I would much rather be out walking in the sunshine or, if it is raining, sitting in one of the few cafes which remain open, sipping coffee and talking with friends.
I feel compelled to write to you because it seems that everything that needs to be said regarding tourists and winter flights has been said through this newspaper, but unfortunately nothing seems to have changed, nor are there any indications of change. I am not an expert in tourism nor am I an expert in economics but my basic arithmetic is on a par with the average twelve-year-old. Apart from that I am just an ordinary person concerned with the future of Majorca as a tourist destination.
I am unable to understand all the statistics which you regularly quote, many of them seem to contradict each other, therefore I have resorted to a simple method of finding the relationship between summer tourist numbers (the seven months April to October) and the winter five months (November to March).
Using the UK as my basis, because all the correspondence in the MDB refer to the UK, I find that there is an average of 60 flights per day from some 20 UK airports in summer (most during the period mid June to mid September) and an average of only 3.5 flights per day from just 5 airports in winter.
In terms of visitors, and using an average of 153 passengers per flight (a reasonable average for the type of aircraft used by the airlines on this route), this equates to just under 2 million visitors in summer and just 80 thousands in winter. Accepting that a number of passenger from the north of the UK are obliged to travel via Barcelona, the average number of winter visitors is probably close to 100 thousands. So, we now have 95% of visitors arriving in summer and only 5% in winter.
Malta, a small island to the east of Majorca and very popular with the British, has similar winter weather to Majorca but attracts more visitors from the UK, over 180 thousands.
Malta is only one tenth the size of Majorca with very little to offer in the way of winter activities. There are no mountains for walking, the roads are not suitable for cycling holidays, there is only one golf course and it does not have a wealth of National Parks. What it does have, like Majorca, is much better winter weather than the UK and in addition it has an average of nearly 8 flights per day from 13 UK airports rather than Majorca’s 3.5 flights from only 5 airports. Also the great majority of the 160 hotels, the restaurants and the bars stay open throughout the year. It also has its own government owned airline, Air Malta.
The split between summer and winter visitors to Malta is 67% summer and 33% winter. The split for Majorca is 95% and 5%!!
Malta does not offer a great deal in the choice of winter activities whereas Majorca has a whole range of choices; and of course freedom of choice is a basic principle of democracy and freedom.
Malta I presume, like Majorca, attends the usual rounds of Travel Trade Fairs to meet up with other tourist boards and airlines to bring them up to date with any changes from the previous years. This, looking from the outside, seems to be all that the Mallorca Ministry of Tourismaccomplishes, apart from churning out reams of statistics.
Malta on the other hand advertises on TV and in the UK newspapers and magazines. Surely if you want potential visitors to make Majorca their choice, they must be made aware of all the options open to them through a concerted advertising campaign with all interested parties.
The days of the ‘charter holidays’ have gone when mum collected an armful of brochures from the High Street travel agent, took them home and poured over them with hubby in the evening and decided to which sun, sea and sand destination they would spend their meagre two weeks annul holiday with the kids.
Now, as a result of the widespread use of the internet, advertising on multi channel TV and in the general media, potential visitors demand choices for their increased four weeks holidays each year, often taking two or three holidays plus city breaks.
Yes, the sun, sea and sand is still an important factor, but the more active people, older couples, families with older children or singles are looking for something different and something they can organise themselves. To ignore this potentially lucrative market by staying locked into a ‘charter era’ mind set, is to put Majorca in a precarious position regarding its rightful place as a top summer destination and to deny its full potential for winter holidays.
In order to keeps this letter relatively simple, and recognising my lack of understanding of the workings of the Tourist Board, I have used generalisations and ‘ball park’ figures to explain my points.
In view of the foregoing I would be most grateful if you would respond to the following questions which cause me most concern:
l Do you discuss the possibility of using the media of northern European countries, including the UK, to advertise Majorca as both a summer and an inter destination?
l Do you have consultations with the hotel groups regarding the possibility of opening more hotels during the winter period? The number would of course depend on the number of direct flights from Europe during this period and the number of visitors requiring hotel accommodation.
l Why do you need a 250 square metre stand, as quoted in the MDB, at travel trade fairs when you are preaching to the already converted regarding summer holidays but making no mention, it would seem, of winter holidays?
l If the UK low cost airlines will not provide extra flights in winter, is the idea of creating a Majorca/Balearic airline still a possibility? If this is so then what progress has been made by the MES (spokes person Biel Barcelo) study group which has been looking into such a venture since early December of last year?
So please Tourist Board, tell me that I do not need to worry and that all is in hand for a comprehensive advertising campaign for both summer and winter. Please tell me that all will be revealed next week, or next fortnight, or next month or within the next three months. Please tell me that I can lay down my pen, or rather cover up my keyboard, and write no further letters on this subject.
If I find if necessary to write further letters it is only because I care about Majorca, care about the economy here and care very much about the people of Majorca.
A personal update on the Driving licence Fiasco
This actually started a couple of weeks or so ago with lots of conflicting information about the situation regarding foreign driving licences.
I do a lot of late night driving, frequently get spot-checked and really don’t have time to be the guinea pig in the test case that the Citizens Advice Bureau seem itching to bring.
Therefore, a visit to Calvia Town Hall to find out more information on the driving licence situation was in order.
I was advised, very definitely advised, that I wouldn’t have to renew my licence, but would have to register it. They made an appointment for me for this week, thank you very much, sorted.
So I turned up at Traffico 15 minutes early for my appointment on the first floor.
Surprisingly, I was the only customer in the room, and even more surprisingly, having been told I had to wait till my number came up on the screen, had to I only had to wait 5 minutes for the girl to press the button to call me to her desk. She told me I needed to go to the next floor up.
On the next floor I saw a young lady who looked at my licence and told me that, due to the fact that the time between the start date on my licence and the expiry of some of the sections was more than 15 years, I had to replace my licence with a Spanish one.
This meant getting a medical, there were several medical centres nearby who would do it more or less straight away.
This medical is not exactly stringent. I saw one poor old guy shamble out of the doctor’s room and thought, “By heck, if he can pass, anyone can.” It turned out, he was the doctor!
Forty five minutes, and sixty euros later, armed with a piece of paper that basically said I was able to fog a mirror, I returned to Traffico and remade my appointment.
A further twenty minutes of, “Your appointment is on the first floor.” “They sent me up here.” “You don’t have an appointment.” “This is my appointment.” “That is for the first floor.” “I’ve just been there, they sent me up here,” a different guy finally agreed to look at my licence again.
His exact words when he did were, in English, “This is a European licence, it has an end date, you don’t have to do anything. Go home, drive your car, be happy, Bye Bye.”
Even by Spanish bureaucracy standards this was shocking.
A few rounds of, “I have just paid 60 euros for a medical that you now say I don’t need, “*Shrug*” If I don’t need this, why was I told I did?” “Shrug*”
Eventually the woman who had told me I needed it came over; they walked away and started arguing.
Then a third person joined in the arguing. After 5 minutes of heated conversation and pointing at my original licence, he came back and started filling in forms.
He was obviously angry; no-one needs to use rubber stamps that forcefully! smile emotion 10 minutes and another $23.00 later it was done.
They still have my licence, I have a stamped photocopy to show the police while I’m waiting 4 to 8 weeks for my shiny new Spanish licence to arrive.
“What happens if I have to go to the UK in the meantime and need to hire a car?” “Shrug*”.
So, what are the conclusions?
Did I need to get my licence renewed, or even registered?
Did the guy who told me I didn’t need it doing just want to finish early, safe in the knowledge that there wouldn’t be any repercussions on him personally if I got fined?
To be honest, I have no idea.
I do know that, given the option to start the whole thing again, I wouldn’t.
Total cost of licence, medical, car parking and petrol, over €90.00, not to mention the time and the hassle, against what I believe is a possible €200.00 fine, I’d take my chances.