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This Nation Could Finally See A Shale Breakthrough

This Nation Could Finally See A Shale Breakthrough

One of the biggest questions in energy is: where on Earth will be the next place to perfect shale drilling?

And late last week, we got some strong indications.

The place is the U.K. Where new rules for drill permitting may give shale oil and gas exploration a major lift.

The U.K. government said Thursday it plans to fast-track review and approval of permits for shale drilling. Addressing one of the big issues that has held back development of the sector in the country. Related: Who Is Leading The Charge In Energy Storage?

Currently, shale applications across the U.K. must be submitted to local municipalities. Which then rule on the final permit for drilling.

But many of those local governments have been failing to act on applications. Letting the permitting drag out, rather than making a decision on what has become a contentious issue in many parts of the country.

The national government believes this is unacceptable. And said it will identify municipal groups that fail to act on permits within a 16-week time frame -- and then take over these orphaned applications, to ensure they are processed in a timely manner. Related: Where Is Oil Heading? New Reports From IEA, OPEC, And EIA Provide Clues

For drillers, this is potentially great news. Allowing them to remove a roadblock that has stymied drilling here.

It may also lead to a greater approval rate for applications. Allowing municipalities to "pass the buck" to the government -- which has already shown strong support for shale gas development as an energy security measure. Related: Better Times Ahead For Oil, If You Can Believe It

All of which may now place the U.K. in the lead for the first spot outside the U.S. to achieve economic shale production. With the country already having well-proven geologic potential, and also hosting a strong oilfield services sector of the kind needed for successful shale drilling.

Watch during the coming months to see how many applications will be kicked up the decision making chain. And whether this touches off a round of new approvals -- and new drills spudded.

Here's to timely review,

Dave Forest

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