The British government announced December 13 that energy companies will once again be allowed to use the sometimes controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale formations. The decision from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey comes about a year and a half after UK authorities banned fracking after the process caused earth tremors, Reuters reported.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which a mix of water, sand and chemicals is blasted down a gas well to break up the hard shale rock formations, allowing gas to be recovered. While Britain will again allow the practice to take place, companies will need to adhere to stricter regulations including thorough assessments for seismic risks, the article stated. A "traffic light system" will also be required, where operators will automatically be stopped in certain conditions.
"Having carefully reviewed the evidence with the aid of independent experts, and with the aid of an authoritative review of the scientific and engineering evidence on shale gas extraction conducted by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, I have concluded that appropriate controls are available to mitigate the risks of undesirable seismic activity," Davey said in a statement.
It is expected the move on fracking will spur shale gas explorations around the country to resume before the end of the year, according to Reuters.