Saturday, 2 April 2011

UK shale plans target cheap gas

The land here in Lancashire's Fylde region was on the sea bed in the age of the dinosaurs. That was when the gas was formed, as fragments of organic matter ran off the hills, became squashed amidst grains of clay, and decayed. But the heavily-compressed shale rock trapped the gas molecules so tight that they can't escape into a conventional gas bore.

Now a controversial technique called fracking (fracturing) allows that gas to be extracted, by setting off small controlled explosions more than a mile below ground then pumping in water and lubricant chemicals to set the gas free.
Environmentalists want a delay in fracking until a major review of the practice by the US Environmental Protection Agency has been carried out - maybe sometime next year. The government believes its own safety regulations are strict enough.

So far, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) appears to be cautiously welcoming the advent of shale gas in the UK. Shale's not anticipated to supply a large proportion of Britain's gas needs, but it is contributing to a worldwide flow of gas that has halved gas prices in the US domestic market, and led to a glut in world markets.

At the moment, gas producers are succeeding in pegging global gas prices to oil prices but some analysts say this will have to change if gas remains in such plentiful supply compared with demand.

full article

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