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UK threatens to halt fracking after report links process to earthquakes

17th October 2011
The UK Government has threatened to call a halt to controversial gas drilling after geology reports linked a series of earthquakes with shale gas extraction.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has warned gas company Cuadrilla Resources to consider the initial findings of a study by the British Geological Survey (BGS), which connected fracking to two earth tremors that shook the Lancashire coastline earlier this year.

Researchers at the BGS reported the epicentre of one 1.5 magnitude quake on May 27 was within 500 yards of the well of the fracking operation and the second 2.3 tremor on April 1 originated less than two miles away.

The process of fracking has attracted much criticism for its drilling technique, which involves the pumping of high volumes of water and sand into bore holes to split bedrock so gas can be captured.

According to reports, advisers today said Cuadrilla's operations could be shut down permanently if any suggested methods to reduce the risk of earthquakes fail.

Toni Harvey, a senior DECC geoscientist, said in a Daily Mail report: "If we allow fracking to continue and their mitigation didn't work, then we would shut them down again, without a doubt.

"There is a lot of concern in the media and from ministers about public safety.

"DECC has requested a detailed report from Cuadrilla, which we understand they are close to finalising. When the report is received, it will be carefully considered, with input from British Geological Survey and other experts.

"We will also be discussing the report with other regulators before any decision is made on resuming hydraulic fracturing operations for shale gas."

A report by Altrincham-based Regeneris Consulting earlier this month said the Fylde coast holds a total potential resource of 200 trillion cubic feet of gas – with an estimated worth of £6 billion to the UK economy.

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