UK Academy of Engineering Study: Fracking is Safe

A refreshing report has been issued by the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society that says, in essence, hydraulic fracturing should be expanded in that country and when it’s properly regulated, fracking is perfectly safe. Issued earlier this month, the 76-page report is titled “Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of hydraulic fracturing” (a full copy is embedded below).

Here’s the opening two paragraphs, which pretty much sum up the tone and findings of the report:

The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’) as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation. Hydraulic fracturing is an established technology that has been used in the oil and gas industries for many decades. The UK has 60 years’ experience of regulating onshore and offshore oil and gas industries.

Concerns have been raised about the risk of fractures propagating from shale formations to reach overlying aquifers. The available evidence indicates that this risk is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres. Geological mechanisms constrain the distances that fractures may propagate vertically. Even if communication with overlying aquifers were possible, suitable pressure conditions would still be necessary for contaminants to flow through fractures. More likely causes of possible environmental contamination include faulty wells, and leaks and spills associated with surface operations. Neither cause is unique to shale gas. Both are common to all oil and gas wells and extractive activities.*

For many years MDN editor Jim Willis worked with and for Brits. He loves the Brits and has a soft spot for merry ole England. He especially loves their plain-spokenness when it comes to issues like fracking.

Take time to read through this report. In particular, take note of the cool graphic on page 11 that shows the recoverable amount of gas by shale play for the entire world.

*See page 4 of the embedded report below.

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