A research team based in Durham has found that there is no significant link between fracking and earthquakes felt on the surface, and that most fracking events have the same seismic effect as jumping off a ladder. Chancellor George Osborne has previously said that “shale gas is part of the future, and we will make it happen". Concerns about the technology's safety have caused some concerns, which this study should help to put rest to.
Ed Guinness and Will Riley on the benefits that new technology is already bringing:
As in so many cases, the shale revolution began in the US. From a standing start, shale now accounts for around a quarter of US natural gas production. Natural gas prices have tumbled to around a third of those in Britain, leading to a manufacturing renaissance as industry returns from the Far East and relocates from Europe. Cheap gas is increasingly displacing coal in electricity generation, meaning that carbon emissions have fallen more quickly than in any other country over the last few years. And with an accompanying boom in shale oil production, North America is on a rapid path towards energy independence.
Other countries, particularly the major coal users, are racing to catch up. China has set out ambitious plans to produce up to 100bn cubic metres of shale gas annually by 2020 – about as much as the UK’s entire consumption. South Africa removed a ban on hydraulic fracturing in September. Poland will have 34 exploration wells completed by the end of this year. And India will unveil a shale gas exploration regime over the next few weeks.