Study: English shale-gas progress slow

Development of English shale-gas resources is taking longer than expected and losing public support, concludes a study by the UK National Audit Office.


In 2016, the study says, the government projected that as many as 20 wells would be drilled and hydraulically fractured by mid-2020. Only three wells have been fractured so far.


The government supports assessment of shale potential in Yorkshire, East Midlands, and North West, production from which could reduce dependence on imported gas. The government considers gas use part of its effort to combat climate change.


But limited progress in assessing shale potential comes in part from low public acceptance of hydraulic fracturing, the government says. And operators blame time required to gain regulatory permits and planning permissions, along with the UK’s sensitive “traffic-light” system for monitoring earthquakes.


A survey by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) found that public opposition to hydraulic fracturing has increased from 21% in 2013 to 40% this year, the study notes.


The study says the DBEIS has asserted that shale gas can provide economic benefits but has not analysed benefits or costs of development.


It also says the DBEIS does not know the full costs of public support for shale gas development so far or the future public investment that might be required.


The study identifies known public costs of at least £32.7 million since 2011.


“This includes £13.4 million spent by three local police forces on managing protests around shale gas sites,” it says.


The study also notes the absence of legislation establishing governmental liability for decommissioning abandoned onshore wells and the overall lack of clarity on responsibility for decommissioning.


Source: Oil & Gas Journal