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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

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DEI comments on news of UK Government fracking ban

(5 November 2019)

On Friday 1st November the UK Government announced it’s decision to impose a moratorium on fracking in the UK.

The reason cited was a review published by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) which concluded it was impossible to predict the likelihood or scale of earthquakes triggered by fracking.

However Durham Energy Institute Director Prof Jon Gluyas speaking in The Guardian said:

 “The government ban on fracking is a neat way of ignoring the now inescapable truth that the projected shale gas potential for the UK is tiny at best. We have, though, as a nation wasted a decade hoping for more gas to heat our homes rather than installing ultra-low carbon geothermal heating like that used in much of Europe.”

The lack of accessible UK shale Gas resource is something DEI has commented on since the UK announced it would be exploring shale gas. Prof Andy Aplin speaking in 2015 stated “for shale to make a significant change in the trend in import dependence would require thousands of wells to be drilled from hundreds of sites across northern England. Even then, we are probably only talking about 10 years of UK gas consumption.”

He also stated that despite British Geological Survey (BGS) initial estimates of shale gas resource only a fraction of this resource was likely to be recoverable, even where the geology works well.

Professor Jon Gluyas also co-authored a comment piece on the fracking moratorium for the Conversation with Magdalena Kuchler from Uppsala University. Read the article 'Fracking in the UK was doomed a decade ago – Tories have wasted precious time on a fossil fuel fantasy'.

The Durham University led HiQuake was also used by the OGA in both of the recent reports which have formed a basis of the recent Government decision: https://www.ogauthority.co.uk/onshore/onshore-reports-and-data/preston-new-road-pnr-1z-hydraulic-fracturing-operations-data/ HiQuake - The Human‐Induced Earthquake Database – is the world's largest database of human-induced earthquakes.

Further Information

Find out more about the HiQuake Durham Research.

Read the Concversation comment piece 'Fracking in the UK was doomed a decade ago – Tories have wasted precious time on a fossil fuel fantasy'.

Read the Guardian article ‘Shale gas fracking wasted ‘millions of taxpayers’ cash’, say scientists’

Read Prof Andy Aplin’s comment piece in 2014 about the difficulties of extracting UK shale gas. and comment on Lancashire fracking ban in 2015.

Find out more about Durham University research on risks related to fracking from the ReFINE (Research Fracking in Europe) consortium which is led jointly by Newcastle and Durham universities.