Fracking row continues as UK shale gas drilling recommences

16th October 2018 | Commercial Energy

Exploratory shale gas drilling will begin today in the UK for the first time in seven years. However, already this morning protesters have tried to prevent shale gas firm Cuadrilla from recommencing “fracking” at a site in Lancashire, England. Operations at the site near Blackpool have been at the centre of a legal row for several years between Cuadrilla and opponents to shale gas, who claimed that drilling at the site was not safe because the process of hydraulic fracturing – the blasting of rocks with jets of water to release gas inside – caused seismic disruption.

But that row came to an end on Friday when a judge ruled that there was no reason why exploratory drilling could not start again. Shale gas advocates say that any reserves found in Britain would reduce the current need to import gas from the Middle East and the US.


Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said on Friday that he was “delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire. If commercially recoverable, this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK”.

This morning, Egan told BBC Radio 4 that “irrespective of how well renewables are performing in the electricity sector, we are going to need natural gas. And surely developing it in this country is better than bringing it in from the Middle East or across the Atlantic. He added that a UK shale gas industry could create “thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of jobs”.

But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas told the same programme that shale gas was “a whole new fossil fuel industry at exactly the time when scientists are telling us that we need to leave around 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

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