Report to UK government backs fracking

Apr 17, 2012 By ROBERT BARR , Associated Press

(AP) -- Exploratory work to extract gas by hydraulic fracturing in England should be allowed to resume even though the technique has caused earth tremors, a report commissioned by the government said Tuesday.

Cuadrilla Resources is using the technique, commonly called fracking, at a prospecting site in northwestern England.

The consultants' report, which reviewed earlier reports by the company, recommends that fracking should be halted temporarily if there is a tremor greater than magnitude 0.5 on the . Cuadrilla has said that is acceptable.

On April 1 and May 27 last year, tremors of magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5 caused alarm in northwestern England but didn't cause structural damage. Cuadrilla's work was halted after the second tremor was linked to fracking.

The government will announce its decision following a six-week consultation period.

"If shale is to be part of the U.K.'s energy mix we need to have a good understanding of its potential environmental impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts," said David MacKay, chief scientific adviser at the and .

"This comprehensive independent review of Cuadrilla's evidence suggests a set of robust measures to make sure future seismic risks are minimized, not just at this location but at any other potential sites across the U.K.," MacKay said.

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water, sand and chemicals under pressure into wells to open cracks which release gas. Cuadrilla has reported 50 fracking-induced tremors at its drilling site, including the two that were felt by people living nearby and several 0.5 magnitude events.

Cuadrilla estimates that the Bowland Basin prospect site in Lancashire contains as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. Even a fraction of that represents a significant .

"We are pleased that the experts have come to a clear conclusion that it is safe to allow us to resume , following the procedures outlined in the review," Mark Miller, chief executive of Cuadrilla.

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the environmental group's concerns include potential air and water pollution as well as tremors.

"There should be a full scientific assessment of all the impacts of fracking," Atkins said. "A short consultation on one of the problems is completely inadequate."

In the United states, released by fracking has risen from 8 percent of total natural gas output in 2007 to nearly 30 percent in last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Consumers have benefited, through lower home-heating and electric bills, but fracking still faces strong opposition.

Explore further: Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

English tremors blamed on shale 'fracking'

Nov 02, 2011

(AP) -- The only company in Britain using hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from shale rock said Wednesday that the controversial technique probably did trigger earth tremors in April and May.

S.Africa extends freeze on shale gas drilling

Aug 18, 2011

South Africa's mining minister on Thursday said no decision will be made on controversial shale gas prospecting until next year with an existing moratorium extended by six months.

Duke study offers 7 safeguards for hydraulic fracturing

Nov 17, 2011

A new report by Duke University researchers offers several health and environmental measures for North Carolina lawmakers to consider as they debate legalizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Hundreds attend EPA hearing on Pa. gas drilling

Jul 22, 2010

(AP) -- Hundreds of people are attending a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing in southwestern Pennsylvania on a controversial natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

US asks firms to reveal gas extraction liquid

Sep 10, 2010

The US environmental regulator on Thursday asked gas companies to reveal what chemicals are used in deep extraction, addressing concerns by residents that their drinking water is being contaminated.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

11 hours ago

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

18 hours ago

( —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

( —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

( —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...