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British Government Seeks Shale Investment

The British government unveiled a new plan on July 28 to jump start the fledgling shale gas industry. The government will accept bids from oil and gas firms after putting into place what it says are rigorous environmental protection standards.

The United Kingdom has long been a substantial producer of oil and natural gas, but much of that up until now has come from its offshore oil fields in the North Sea. With its North Sea assets mature and declining, the British government is looking for alternative sources of energy.

The U.K. needs more energy supply, but due to concerns about climate change, is wary of increasing its dependence on coal. The government has offered support for new nuclear power, including a guaranteed price for a proposed nuclear power plant in southwest England to be constructed by EDF. But, that plant won’t come online until 2023 at the earliest.

The U.K. has been a global leader in wind power, having installed the most offshore wind capacity in the world. But, offshore wind still only makes up a small percentage of the nation’s electricity.

Shale gas, the British government hopes, could hit a sweet spot for its energy needs. It could provide domestically produced energy, reduce emissions relative to coal, and boost the stagnant economy. And with geopolitical events in Ukraine highlighting the need for Europe to improve its energy security, the British think shale gas can be a winner.

But fierce environmental…

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