UK Govt gives go-ahead for fracking at onshore shale gas well

An onshore Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig
An onshore Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig

Shale gas developer Cuadrilla has become the first operator in the UK to receive final consent from the government to frack an onshore horizontal exploration well, paving the way for commercial production.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry has granted hydraulic fracturing consent for shale gas operator Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd for the horizontal well PNR-1z at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

Hydraulic fracturing consent was introduced in the Infrastructure Act 2015 as an additional step to the existing regulatory and permitting regime.

It ensures a final check that all the necessary environmental and health and safety permits have been obtained and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is otherwise satisfied it is appropriate to grant Hydraulic Fracturing Consent.

Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd submitted an application for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent to BEIS on 18 May 2018 in line with the regulatory regime.

Weaning Britain off energy imports is one of the driving forces behind government support for fracking.

In May, the government announced plans to speed up planning applications to support development of the country’s shale gas industry. Some of the proposed measures include approving planning applications at a national rather than local level.

The British Geological Survey estimates shale gas resources in northern England alone could contain 1,329 trillion cubic feet of gas, 10 percent of which could meet the country’s demand for almost 40 years.

Perry said: “The government has been clear it is committed to ensuring a meticulous approach, rooted in rigorous evidence, is taken when reviewing applications to explore for shale gas.

Claire Perry, MP
Claire Perry, MP

“Having given careful consideration to the evidence submitted and after scrutiny from the department, we are satisfied the technical requirements have been met.

“Shale gas has the potential to be a new domestic energy source, further enhancing our energy security and helping us with our continued transition to a lower-carbon economy. It also has the capacity to deliver substantial economic benefits, both nationally and locally, as well as through the creation of well paid, high-quality jobs.

“We already have an excellent, long-standing reputation for safe oil and gas exploration. Our world class regulations will ensure that shale exploration will maintain robust environmental standards and meet the expectations of local communities.”

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), the trade association for onshore operators and the wider supply chain, commented:

“This is a momentous achievement and UK Onshore Oil and Gas wish to congratulate Cuadrilla, its suppliers and staff for their success.

“At a time when the UK, and indeed the whole of Europe, is becoming ever more dependent on imported fuels it is very encouraging that we are taking steps to reverse the trend.

“By doing this we will bring back home the job opportunities, investment and tax revenues lost by outsourcing our energy needs while securing our energy future and signalling that the UK is beholden to no one now or into the future.

“The two wells at Preston New Road have helped drive over £10 million into the Lancashire economy and create over 60 jobs, whilst communities are directly benefitting through Lancashire based funds and payments. This is just a flavour of what a fully-fledged UK onshore gas industry can provide.”

  • The decision by the UK government to divert powers over the environment under Brexit – that would otherwise be devolved to the Scottish government – to Westminster is likely to nullify the controversial ‘moratorium’ on fracking imposed by the Scottish Energy Minister

25 Jul 2018

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