The British government instituted an immediate moratorium on fracking after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority said the consequences of seismic activity associated with fracking are difficult to predict.
The BBC recalls fracking was suspended in August, after the only company licensed to frack, Cuadrilla, reportedly caused a quake of about 2.9 magnitude in Lancashire. Since then, the OGA has been tasked with estimating the possible effects of such seismic activity. The authority concluded that the effects of fracking on seismic activity were difficult to predict and quantify.
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, no more fracking licenses will be issued until energy companies “can reliably predict and control tremors", which effectively means the ban will be indefinite.
At the same time, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said the moratorium will be temporary, “until and unless” fracking is proved safe. Again, this means it will be a while before Cuadrilla or anyone else fracks a well in the UK.
The Daily Mail quoted Leadsom—a staunch supporter of fracking—as calling the ban disappointing.
“Yes, it's a disappointment but we've always been clear that we will follow the science,” she said. “We must impose this moratorium until the science changes.”
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Meanwhile, PM Boris Johnson also weighed in, saying the Conservative Party would abandon its support for fracking, saying he personally had “very considerable anxieties” about the technology. That’s after calling fracking “an answer to people’s prayers” and lashing out at critics.
Fracking has been associated with increased seismic activity in parts of the United States, notably Oklahoma. However, the link, according to the USGS, is not between the very process of fracking a well and higher likelihood of quakes. It is wastewater disposal reservoirs that have been found to have a link with increased seismic activity.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.