Shale gas to reach UK homes in 2015 as the country opens up to fracking

Drilling rig
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Shale gas could be fuelling British homes as early as 2015 according to Cuadrilla Resources. The company is currently preparing to submit a planning application to Lancashire county council for a site at Preston New Road and another at Roseacre, both near Blackpool in the northwest of England. In a “best case scenario” the sites could be fracked in the summer of 2015.

“After the initial flow test period, which is up to 90 days, if the flow rates look good then we would want to tie the well into the gas transmission system and flow it for a longer period to assess the flow rate over 18 to 24 months,” Francis Egan, Cuadrilla chief executive said. The shale gas could reach British homes by the end of next year.

Currently only one well has been fracked in the UK by Cuadrilla but the work had to be stopped amid protests and fears of earthquakes. Despite that, Cuadrilla and other shale gas exploration companies in the UK have reasons to be optimistic. The government is eager to make the UK a shale-gas-friendly zone with recent legislation giving the fracking companies the right to run gas pipes under private landowners’ land without obtaining their permission.

It is believed that the ministers will soon announce a new round of onshore oil and gas exploration licensing, with around two-thirds of Britain potentially on offer to exploration companies. The land opened to fracking is said to include national parks, urban commons and cities across the UK.

A spokesman for energy minister Michael Fallon told the Sunday Times: “The word fracking has a lot of baggage attached to it but it has been proven you can do it in national parks and other sensitive areas like cities without serious impacts.”

“Such operations could fit into towns and cities too. The sites are smaller than many other industrial activities.”

This is good news for Cuadrilla. So is the government’s plan to give the shale gas operators the right to drill under landowners’ land without their permission. Under current regulations, running a horizontal well under private land without permission constitutes trespassing. If a company wishes to carry out such drilling, it needs to obtain the landowners’ permission and pay them compensation.

Yet Mr Egan doesn’t believe that compensating the landowners is justified. In a recent interview he said: “I don’t think there’s any disturbance. If someone flies two miles above your house, do you get compensation?”

He insisted the law change was necessary in order to achieve widespread shale production in the UK. “If you can’t get access at all, if there’s no amount of money people are interested in, then the resource can’t be developed,” he said.

Taking homeowners to court would take “years” and “no company would hang around for that”, he said. “I don’t think companies will invest if they think it will take years to drill each horizontal well.”

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