UK uses new pow­ers to rule on Cuadrilla shale gas per­mits

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

LON­DON: Bri­tain will use new pow­ers to de­ter­mine whether to al­low shale gas firm Cuadrilla Re­sources to carry out frack­ing at two sites in north­west Eng­land, over­rul­ing lo­cal plan­ning de­ci­sions.

Bri­tain is es­ti­mated to have sub­stan­tial amounts of shale gas trapped in un­der­ground rocks and Prime Min­is­ter Cameron has pledged to go all out to ex­tract th­ese re­serves, to help off­set de­clin­ing North Sea oil and gas out­put. Yet frack­ing ap­pli­ca­tions have strug­gled to find ap­proval from lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, con­cerned about noise and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, and to ad­dress this the gov­ern­ment has changed plan­ning rules to make its own de­ci­sions on shale gas ap­peals.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Greg Clark has in­formed Lan­cashire County Coun­cil of the min­is­ter’s in­ten­tion to him­self de­ter­mine Cuadrilla’s ap­peal on two re­jected per­mits in the area in north­west Eng­land.

“Min­is­ters have de­cided to re­cover Cuadrilla’s ap­peals for shale ex­plo­ration in Lan­cashire,” the gov­ern­ment said in a let­ter to the coun­cil dated Nov. 26.

Cuadrilla’s wells in Lan­cashire would be the first Bri­tish shale gas wells where frack­ing is ap­plied since hy­draulic frac­tur­ing at a sep­a­rate project near Black­pool, in Lan­cashire, trig­gered an earth tremor that re­sulted in an 18-month ban on the tech­nol­ogy in 2011. John Wil­liams, se­nior prin­ci­pal con­sul­tant at the con­sul­tancy Poyry Man­age­ment said a de­ci­sion on the ap­peal could be made by the sec­ond half of 2016 but rules re­quir­ing the com­pany to mon­i­tor wa­ter sup­plies at the site for 12 months be­fore frack­ing can start would de­lay any gas ex­trac­tion.

“We could see some drilling in the sec­ond half of 2017 but they still have to de­ter­mine whether there are re­serves that can be ex­tracted eco­nom­i­cally and it would likely be 2018 at the ear­li­est be­fore a de­ci­sion to move into full pro­duc­tion would be taken,” he said.

A spokesper­son for Cuadrilla said if the projects are given ap­proval the com­pany would be­gin wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing at the sites as soon as pos­si­ble.

Bri­tain changed its plan­ning rules in Au­gust to al­low gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion to ap­prove or re­ject shale gas drilling per­mits and give pri­or­ity to ap­peals in­volv­ing shale gas projects. — Reuters

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