After an initial consultation, Britain’s Environment Agency (EA) said it is “minded to grant” privately-held energy firm Cuadrilla permits to frac during exploration for shale gas in Lancashire, England, reports the BBC.
The agency has issued a “draft decision” outlining the conditions under which they would allow fracing at the Roseacre Wood site in Lancashire. A second round of consultation begins on Monday and will run until January 6.
Cuadrilla Resources initially filed a planning application for the Roseacre Wood site back in June of this year, shortly after applying to frac at another site not far from Roseacre, at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton. According to the company’s website, they had hoped to begin operations around October, but were unable to because the Lancashire council said it needed more time to make its determination, reports the Telegraph.
The request for extra time pushed the decision for Roseacre back from November 18 to January 31, and the decision for Preston New Road from November 5 to December 31.
Following the news that the EA was likely to grant a permit to frac, Cuadrilla’s CEO, Francis Egan, said “we welcome the announcement by the Environment Agency that it is minded to approve our permits for our proposed exploration site at Roseacre Wood following the ‘minded to grant’ statement the Agency issued a few weeks ago for our other proposed site at Preston New Road.
“The decision, following a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications, demonstrates that, as we have committed, the local environment will be well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations,” Egan said.
Shale Exploration and Production in England
Until recently, shale exploration and production had been suspended in England due to concerns around the effect fracing could have on the environment. On April 1 and May 27 of 2011, two small earthquakes were felt in the Blackpool area. The earthquakes were suspected to be linked to fracing at the Preese Hall well operated by Cuadrilla, according to the UK government. As a result, operations were suspended until a full technical study could be completed.
In light of recommendations of a panel of independent experts, of comments received in response to a public consultation, and of the recommendations of a review by the UK’s science and engineering academies, the Secretary of State for Energy announced the introduction of new regulatory requirements to ensure that seismic risks are effectively mitigated in December of 2012.
The rig count in the United Kingdom in October of 2014 was 0 for onshore and 15 offshore, according to data from Baker Hughes.
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