Photographer: John Guillemin/Bloomberg

U.K. Fracking Group Calls for Exploratory Drilling to Start

  • Gas is needed to meet energy needs, Task Force on Shale says
  • Operators must follow best practice to minimize risk

Shale gas can be produced safely in the U.K. and exploratory drilling should start to ascertain recoverable reserves, according to a group funded by the industry.

Gas is required to meet the U.K.’s future energy needs and developing a shale industry will increase security of supply, the Task Force on Shale, a body funded by five companies including Centrica Plc and Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., said in an e-mailed statement. Operators must be held to the highest standards for well integrity, allow independent monitoring of their sites and make the economic benefits clearer for local residents, it said.

The climate agreement struck in Paris on Dec. 12 contains an ambitious goal to keep temperatures from rising less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels. Policy makers in Europe support a switch from coal to gas for power generation to help achieve this, along with more renewable sources such as wind and solar.

“It is simply not feasible to create a renewables industry that can meet all our energy needs in the short term,” the Task Force said. “Gas represents an environmentally cleaner alternative to coal. The adverse climate impact of shale gas is similar to conventional gas and less than LNG.”

Gas generated 30 percent of the U.K.’s electricity in the second quarter. Along with nuclear, the fuel will be central to the nation’s energy mix for decades to come as Britain plans to phase out coal plants by 2025, Secretary of State for Energy Amber Rudd said last month.

“The development of a domestic shale gas industry provides a clear means of strengthening the U.K.’s energy security and mitigating against potential risks to energy supply,” the Task Force said. “The emergence of a shale gas industry must not be allowed to restrict or prohibit the ongoing development of a renewables and low-carbon energy industry.”

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