This month Prime Minister Liz Truss has backed Fracking as a way of boosting the UK’s domestic gas supplies. A ban was placed on fracking back in 2019 as it caused a lot of environmental and safety concerns.
What is fracking?
Fracking is a technique used to recover gas and oil from shale rock. It involves drilling into the earth and putting a high-pressure mix of water, chemicals, and sand into a rock layer, which then releases the gases trapped inside the rock.
Why is Fracking causing so much concern?
Talks about the ban on fracking being lifted have been prominent this year with the energy crisis. The government had previously said all options were on the table when it came to securing the UK’s domestic energy supplies.
However, many people are against fracking due to environmental concerns. The UK only ever had one fracking site in operation, which was run by Cuadrilla. However, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) put a stop to the operation forcing them to close. This came about due to a report done by the OGA finding that it was not possible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by fracking.
The seismic events that were caused by the operations were considered minor and rarely felt by people, however since they are unpredictable, this aspect is still causing concern.
Another reason fracking has gained quite a bit of controversy is that the gas that is released by doing this is a fossil fuel. Therefore, this is counterproductive to the UK’s net zero goals and risks distracting governments and energy companies away from investing in renewable sources of energy.
Some have also criticized Liz Truss for her reasons for lighting the fracking ban. The government’s main reason has been to increase energy security in the UK. The fracking site in the Uk is owned by Cuadrilla and not Britain. This means that the gas produced would be sold on international markets and therefore not really improve domestic supplies.
The government’s opinion on Fracking
Liz Truss has announced the lift of the ban as part of her strategy to bring down energy bills for consumers in the UK. The Business and Energy secretary has now confirmed that firms can apply for new licences to drill for shale gas, however, permission will only be given where there is public support. This comes after there were many concerns from people in the local area about the last fracking well.
The PM has said that the UK is too dependent on international energy prices, which has caused an energy crisis in the Uk. Especially with Russia continuing to weaponize gas that was previously exported to the EU, energy security is becoming the governments near focus.
Labour has hit back at the conservatives’ decisions saying that the move would damage efforts to hit the net zero target. Other governments such as the Welsh and Scottish governments have also opposed fracking and have said they will not be granting any drilling licences.
Will fracking reduce energy bills?
There have been reports that energy companies planning to drill in certain areas could offer a reduction in energy bills to residents close to the location of the drilling site, to secure public support.
The onshore gas industry in the UK has also made claims that fracking will bring down energy prices, ensuring the UK are less reliant on imports from other countries. There have also been claims that there is enough shale gas to keep the Uk self-sufficient for the next 50 years.
Liz Truss has said that fracking will be part of the long-term plan to make the UK a net energy exporter by 2040.
However, as we mentioned earlier the shale gas would be injected into the wholesale market as it would be sold internationally. This means that it would take a long time to bring wholesale gas prices down using this method.
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