Fracking companies have threatened to take legal action over the government’s ban on the practice, amid the sector’s growing frustration at being left behind the UK energy revolution, according to reports.
The sector sent “pre-action correspondence” to the government after fears prompted by earthquakes in 2019 led to a ban on drilling, according to the Telegraph, which first reported the news.
Fracking is a process of extracting gas from shale rock. In 2019 the government estimated that over 2.5m wells had been hydraulically fractured worldwide.
Boris Johnson announced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in England after a scientific paper said predicting the magnitude of earthquakes that could be triggered, was not possible.
Among the fracking projects that had to be abandoned after the ban, was one financed by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe whose company Ineos wrote off £63m in 2019.
“We support the continued development of geothermal energy in the UK,” Charles McAllister, policy manager at trade body UK Onshore Oil and Gas told the Telegraph.
“However,” he continued, “we would ask the Government to look again at lifting the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in light of its approach to the regulation of seismicity from deep geothermal projects.”
The move by the onshore shale gas industry raises the possibility, if legal action against the government is successful, of the public funding compensation for the industry which was curtailed after repeated attacks on its environmental impact.
Some critics of the ban have argued that fracking could have helped the UK avoid its energy crisis, which has seen scores of UK suppliers collapse since the start of September when the price of buying gas surged.
In October the MP for South Thanet, Craig Mackinlay, called on the government to review its fracking ban, saying it could play help ease the crisis and bring down the cost of fuel, according to Kent Live.
“No matter what our movement is towards Net Zero, whether it is fast or slow – and slower would be my preference – we’re going to be using fossil fuels for some time,” said Mackinlay.