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UK Lifts Prohibition On Shale Gas Production In England

The UK government on Thursday formally lifted the moratorium on shale gas extraction in England in a bid to increase domestic energy production as pledged by new Prime Minister Liz Truss two weeks ago.

The UK government also confirmed its support for a new oil and gas licensing round in the North Sea, expected to lead to more than 100 new licenses.

“In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and – as the Prime Minister said – we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040,” Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said in a statement today.

“To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production - so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas,” Rees-Mogg added, referring to the lifting of the pause on shale gas extraction in England.

Operators can now drill to gather further data on UK shale gas resources and how the UK can safely carry out shale gas extraction where there is local support, the government said.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Liz Truss said at the House of Commons that the UK was lifting a 2019 moratorium on shale gas fracking as it looks to ramp up domestic energy resources and help households and businesses struggling to pay soaring energy bills.

Cuadrilla Resources—the company operating Britain’s only two shale gas wells in Lancashire, which had to stop drilling after the government announced the moratorium – welcomed the formal lifting of the ban, with which the government quickly followed up the Prime Minister’s announcement of two weeks ago.

“Communities across the North of England stand to benefit most from today’s announcement. Cuadrilla is determined that a portion of all shale gas revenue should be delivered to local residents as a community dividend,” Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said.

However, Cuadrilla’s founder, geologist Chris Cornelius, told The Guardian that “I don’t think there is any chance of fracking in the UK in the near term,” that it would be impossible to scale fracking in England to significant levels, and that the lifting on the ban wouldn’t ease the current crisis at all.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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