Gas fracking to start in England this week after seven-year halt

PRESTON: Shale gas developer Cuadrilla Resources expects to start gas fracking in northwest England this week, seven years after its first attempt to hydraulically fracture a well led to earth tremors, public protests and an overhaul of regulations.
The process, behind a surge in US gas production, involves fracturing rock deep under ground using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to encourage the flow of hydrocarbons from shale, a dense and tightly-packed sedimentary rock.
It has drawn criticism from the public and campaigners concerned about the environmental impact of fracking and the pollution caused by fossil fuels. Protests against the practice led to work at Cuadrilla’s site being halted in 2011.
But the government, keen to cut Britain’s reliance on gas imports which soared to more than 50 per cent of gas supplies, has tightened regulations and earlier this year gave consent for Cuadrilla to go ahead again. Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan said that fracking of two wells and associated work would test gas flows.
The industry’s future in Europe may hinge on the outcome. Although fracking has grown rapidly in the United States, it has not been proved viable in Europe despite several attempts, including projects that failed in Poland five years ago.
Fracking has been banned in France, Germany and several other European countries.
Cuadrilla’s well will be the first fracked horizontal well in Britain and the results will be watched by shale explorers such as IGas, Egdon and Third Energy, as well as majors like Exxon which was unsuccessful in Poland.
The plans could also be delayed by an injunction hearing due on October 10. Environment group Friends of the Earth said the injunction was sought by Bob Dennett, a resident in Lancashire, the English county where the project located.
The hearing “will decide whether the injunction is upheld or whether fracking can commence whilst there is an outstanding judicial review over emergency planning procedures at the site,” Friends of the Earth said in a statement.
The British Geological Survey estimates shale gas resources in northern England alone could amount to 1,300 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, 10 per cent of which could meet the country’s demand for almost 40 years.— Reuters