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Why Removing The UK Fracking Ban May Have Been Pointless

Earlier this week, the UK government lifted the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in England, removing what seems the biggest obstacle to greater energy security. According to geologists, however, this is not the case.

Shortly after the news broke, geologists reacted by saying that the kind of shale rock in England was not the same as the shale rock in the United States and that getting oil and gas out of these formations would be a challenging task.

“Liz Truss hopes to frack us out of the energy crisis by drilling thousands of wells to produce shale gas,” said Professor John Gluyas from Durham University, as quoted by PA Media. “It won’t work – societal objections aside, we have the wrong kind of shale and geology which is far too complex.”

Another geologist, Professor Stuart Haszeldine from Edinburgh University went further, saying there may not even be any gas to extract from shale formations in England.

“We are massively late by 280 million years,” he said, explaining that most of the gas had already escaped through cracks and faults in the shale formation.

There have been only two shale wells drilled in the UK but an exploration company, Cuadrilla, and both were plugged when the moratorium on fracking came into effect in 2019.

Cuadrilla has understandably welcomed the news of the moratorium’s removal and sought to immediately quench any concern among people living in the vicinity of shale formations.

“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,” chief executive Francis Egan said.


Opposition against fracking remains strong in the UK, however, including in parliament and in the ruling Conservative party. The removal of the moratorium caused a backlash and doubts the shale industry is economically viable in the UK.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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