UK Gives Fracking the Green Light

It seems a lot of today’s news is about fracking, so here’s one more story about fracking—not Marcellus or Utica related—but important all the same. Our ultra-environmentally conscious friends from across the pond have decided that fracking is a safe technology. Take note Vermont!

From a press release issued by British Gas:

This April, a report published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said that hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, for oil and gas was a safe process and should continue – providing proper safety measures are taken. Fracking uses a blend of water and sand to create tiny fractures in the shale through which natural gas can escape. By exploiting the world’s potentially vast shale gas deposits, it’s hoped that fracking will help make domestic and commercial gas and electric more affordable and cut consumption of dirtier coal.

In the United States, the use of shale gas has pushed gas prices to 10-year lows, and companies are actually preparing to export the excess levels of fuel. Estimates of the amount of shale gas in the UK vary widely. According to independent UK energy company Cuadrilla, the potential resources in Lancashire alone could amount to 200 trillion cubic feet – an amount that could supply the whole of the UK’s gas needs for more than five decades.

"Provided safety standards are observed, shale gas could unlock significant new infrastructure investments, help meet our carbon reduction goals and create many new jobs around the UK," a representative of the Confederation of British Industry said in response to the government’s fracking report.

Fracking is in many ways less likely to pollute drinking water than other more conventional forms of gas drilling, because it happens so far from the groundwater, with so much rock in between. This isn’t always the case with shallower wells and more traditional gas exploration.

Shale gas exploration is also seen by some as a positive force in the battle against climate change, since the gas releases less carbon into the atmosphere than coal when used to produce electricity. In fact, it’s hoped that fracking can transform the outlook for UK energy. Estimates project the techniques used in shale gas development will all but assure a clean and affordable natural gas supply for generations to come – creating new jobs and enhancing the nation’s energy security.*

*British Gas (May 17, 2012) – Fracking Given Green Light in UK