What is fracking and why is it bad for the environment?

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Applications for fracking can resume in England, with the government announcing that the practice was stopped in November 2019 after solid opposition from environmental groups.

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In addition, the Trade and Energy Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the extent of seismic activity related to shale gas exploration and extraction was very low and would be reviewed.

There are currently three test wells in the UK; However, 151 licenses have been granted for petroleum development and exploration, many of which may encroach upon national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.


Chris Cornelius, a geologist who founded Cuadrilla Resources, a drilled shale gas firm in England, told the Guardian he did not think the UK was geologically suited to fracking. He said the country has “heavily defective and split” deposits of shale gas, making extraction difficult. Earlier this year, Cuadrilla said it was abandoning its wells.

Nonetheless, Liz Truss said in an interview during her campaign to become prime minister: “I support the search for fracking in parts of the United Kingdom where it can be done.”

Here’s a look at what fracking is and why scientists and environmental activists are so concerned about it.

What is fracking?

Fracking refers to drilling into the ground and directing a high pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals onto a rock layer to release the gas inside. Fracking wells can be drilled vertically or horizontally.

The term fracking describes how the rock is separated by high-pressure mixing, releasing shale gas.

At the moment, the UK can meet only 48% of gas demand from domestic supply, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict affecting gas supplies in Europe making gas imports difficult.

Cuadrilla himself claimed that “just 10%” of gas from shale deposits in Lancashire and surrounding areas could “supply 50 years’ worth of the UK’s current gas demand”, BBC has been informed.

However, energy experts argued that this is not the case, as the amount of shale gas deposits does not represent what could be produced for commercial use.

In addition, it will take several years for shale wells to return to commercial production standards, while not offering the immediate supplies needed to aid in the current energy crisis.

Why is fracking harmful to the environment?

The injection of fluid under high pressure into the rock needed to release the shale gas is thought to have caused the Earth tremor.

These small movements in the Earth’s surface are rarely felt by people, but more than 120 aftershocks were recorded during drilling at the Preston New Road site in Cuadrilla.

Despite these seismic events being considered minor, they are still a matter of concern to residents and scientists. What’s more, the impact on the English countryside has been described by Greenpeace as “enormous”.

“Thousands of wells would be needed to produce half of the UK’s gas demand,” the Environmental Campaign Organization said. “This industrial operation will require an enormous number of trucks that are dispensing chemicals and taking away contaminated wastewater.”

Greenpeace also warns that fracking affects the surrounding area’s air and water quality due to several factors, including engine exhaust from accidental water leaks, increased truck traffic, emissions from diesel-powered pumps, Includes gas burned or vented for operational reasons. , and unintentional emissions of pollutants from faulty equipment.

Local people in areas where fracking could have been done have been vocal about not performing such operations because of the impact they have on them.

The noise of drilling lowers the value of the property to the surrounding farms and homes, affecting the economy of the region as a whole.

Fracking also requires huge amounts of water, resulting in a very high carbon footprint as a result of its transportation.

Environmental campaigners further argue that fracking is distracting decision makers from investing in renewable sources of energy.

Relying on shale gas deposits encourages a reliance on fossil fuels, which campaigners argue is delaying the energy crisis.

Here are all the places fracking can happen in the UK

The British Geological Survey (BGS) advises that there are four distinct areas in the UK where fracking may be possible due to shale gas reserves. These are:

  • Carboniferous Boland-Lancashire and the Hodder region in the Midlands
  • Carboniferous Midland Valley in Scotland
  • Jurassic Weald Basin in South England
  • Wessex Region in South England

It was concluded between 2013 and 2016, when BGS conducted research into potential fracking areas, providing the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with estimates of potential shale gas reserves. Wales has also been identified as some potential areas for exploration; This includes the Bolland Shale Formation in North Wales and the Carboniferous Shales in South Wales.

Source: www.standard.co.uk

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