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UK Will Not Lift Fracking Ban Despite Supply Shock

The UK government has no intention of lifting a fracking moratorium introduced in 2019, a minister has said in an official statement.

Acknowledging the need for energy security in the country, Greg Hands, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said that "The pause on fracking implemented in November 2019 on the basis of the difficulty in predicting and managing seismic activity caused by fracking, remains in place and we will continue to be led by the science on our approach."

Talk of reviving fracking plans for the UK surfaced after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as energy prices flew even higher, prompting a scramble among politicians to find a way to mitigate the blow for businesses and households.

Normally, a boost in local production would be the answer, but it appears that the opposition to fracking is pretty strong in the UK. Cuadrilla, the only company that had conducted any hydraulic fracturing in the country, called on the government to rethink the ban, and anti-fracking activists immediately sprung to action. Eventually, events led to an urgent question in Parliament and to Hands' statement.

Cuadrilla's chief executive is not giving up, however.

"If we are serious about energy security, as a very basic first step we must not concrete-up these wells," he told the BBC referring to the only two fracked gas wells in the UK, due to be plugged and abandoned in three months. "Then we need urgently to lift the shale gas moratorium and use these and additional wells to produce domestic shale gas," Francis Egan also said.

Apparently, the government does not share this position on energy security.

"It would take years of exploration and development before commercial quantities of shale gas could be produced," Hands said in his reposnse to Parliament. "Additionally, fracking relies on a continued series of new wells, each of which produces gas for a relatively short time, even if the pools were lifted. There is unlikely to be sufficient quantities of gas available to address the high prices affecting all of Western Europe, and would certainly have no effect on prices in the near term."

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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