In a move that might not please people eagerly anticipating
the arrival of Earth Day, an independent report recommended that
hydraulic fracturing could resume in the U.K.
Hydraulic fracturing - more widely known as fracking - was
temporarily banned in the country after a company's operations
caused two minor earthquakes. However, it looks like fracking
might resume in the country shortly following the report
commissioned by the U.K.'s Department of Energy and Climate
Change that found operations should be allowed to recommence
provided that "robust" precautionary measures are taken.
of seismic activity associated with hydraulic fracking operations
is small, and the probability of damage is extremely small. We
suggest fracking can continue under our recommendations," report
author Brian Baptie of the British Geological Society said at a
Last April, fracking operations conducted by Cuadrilla
Resources Ltd. allegedly caused a tremor measuring 2.3 on the
Richter scale. The following month another one - recorded at 1.5
- was observed. The report recommended that a quake of 0.5 be the
threshold level for when operations should be halted. Such a
tremor would be significantly below the level that would cause
Over the course of the coming weeks the U.K.'s energy ministry
will be accepting public comment on the report and then it will
determine the future of shale
exploration in the country.
The ministry's decision on fracking operations will be
significant as the industry could prove to be a major boon for
the U.K.'s energy needs.
reports that estimates of onshore shale gas reserves in the
country are 200 trillion cubic feet, but that figure pales in
comparison to recent estimates that offshore reserves could total
1 quadrillion cubic feet.
"There will be a lot more offshore shale gas and
resources than onshore," Nigel Smith, a subsurface geologist and
geophysicist with the British Geological Survey (
), told Reuters. Smith added that offshore reserves could
actually be 10 times the size of onshore ones.
The U.K. has a substantial history with developing offshore
conventional gas in the North Sea, so Smith believes the country
is well positioned to develop potential unconventional gas
The increased shale estimates in the U.K. come shortly after
Poland - which was once viewed as Europe's potential shale gas
powerhouse - saw estimates of its reserves vastly downgraded.