Jul 13, 2012 2:18 PM GMT
Great news for those who are concerned about the environment as natural gas results in far fewer CO2 emissions and the level of new energy about to flood the market means energy costs will go down for everyone. Not so good for extremists.
The review examined the scientific and engineering evidence relating to the environmental and health and safety risks associated with the onshore extraction of shale gas. Findings that led to the conclusion that the practice could be undertaken safely include:
• Hydraulic fracturing is an established technology that has been used by the oil and gas industries for many decades in the UK;
• The risks of contamination of aquifers from fractures is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place at depths of many hundreds of metres;
• Seismicity (or earth tremors) induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of a smaller magnitude than the UK naturally experiences or than is related to coal mining activities, which are, of themselves, low by world standards;
• Open ponds for storing wastewater (which have been historically used in US fracking operations and carry a possible risk of leakage) are not permitted in the UK and there are numerous facilities in the UK for the treatment of similar wastes from the industrial sector;
Well established procedures have been developed for the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (which are present in the hydraulic fracturing wastewaters) by the UK's extractive industries.
A particular cause for concern is that that poor cementation and casing failures of wells could lead to leakages and wider environmental contamination, as they have in some cases in the US. Therefore, the review concludes that the priority must be to ensure the integrity of every well throughout its lifetime.