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UK’s oil, gas, and chemicals group Ineos called on the UK government on Monday to either lift the seismicity limit on fracking from a currently “unworkable” and too-low ceiling, or end shale altogether without using political backdoors to shut it down.
Ineos, which has a shale business unit, holds acreage for shale gas exploration across the UK.
The current 0.5 seismic level, above which fracking at sites in the UK must be halted, “is over 3,000 times lower than the 4.0 level typically found in the United States where over 1 million shale wells have been safely drilled,” Ineos said in a statement.
According to regulations, in case of micro seismic events of 0.50 on the Richter scale or higher, fracking must temporarily be halted and pressure in the well reduced.
Another UK company, Cuadrilla, started fracking at an exploration site in northwest England in October 2018, resuming hydraulic fracturing in the UK for the first time in seven years. Natural gas started to flow to the surface from Cuadrilla’s shale exploration well at the Preston New Road site in early November.
The company, however, has had to stop operations multiple times, due to micro seismic events measuring above the threshold requiring a halt.
In today’s statement, Ineos said:
“INEOS calls upon the Government to either make shale workable or shut it down and not to use politically expedient, slippery back door manoeuvres to end shale. British companies have been working in good faith to develop an onshore gas industry in the UK. There are indications that there may be enough gas to make the UK self sufficient in energy for a generation and stimulate huge investment in manufacturing as has been the case in the USA.”
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“The Government’s position is unworkable and unhelpful. They are playing politics with the future of the country. We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the Government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry,” Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe said.
Last month, the Financial Times reported that the UK Energy Minister Claire Perry had dismissed calls by Cuadrilla to change the traffic-light system of measuring micro seismic events.
Perry said in a letter to Cuadrilla’s CEO Francis Egan that the current system was “fit for purpose” and that the UK had “no intention of altering it,” FT reported, citing the letter it had obtained under the freedom of information legislation.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.