UK Lifts Fracking Ban

Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 07:12 PM gHale

Fracking is coming back to Britain as its government lifted its ban on the controversial mining process.

Companies can now continue their exploration of shale gas reserves, but Energy Secretary Edward Davey said the decision was subject to new controls to limit the risks of seismic activity.

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There was a halt to fracking last year after two small earthquakes in Lancashire, northwestern England, where Cuadrilla Resources was exploring for shale gas.

The process involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals into shale formations deep beneath the Earth’s surface, causing the fracturing of the rock and the release of natural gas.

It has proved controversial across the pond in the United States, where supporters say it provides cheap energy but critics fear the potential for chemicals to seep into the drinking water supply.

The new controls imposed by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change include a requirement to carry out a seismic survey before work starts.

Firms involved must also draw up a plan showing how they will limit the seismic risks, and monitor seismic activity before, during and after the exploration.

Cuadrilla Resources said Thursday’s decision marked a significant step for Britain’s future onshore gas industry.

“Today’s news is a turning point for the country’s energy future. Shale gas has the potential to create jobs, generate tax revenues, reduce our reliance on imported gas, and improve our balance of payments,” chief executive Francis Egan said.

Egan said they could practice fracking “safely and sensibly” in Britain and there are huge reserves to exploit.

The company believes there is about 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under the ground just within its license area in Lancashire. To put that figure into context, the United Kingdom uses about 3 trillion cubic feet of gas a year, Egan said.

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