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UK Shale Suffers A Major Blow


On Thursday, UK officials rejected an application submitted by Cuadrilla Resources to frac for shale gas in northwest England. This is a huge blow to the nascent shale industry in the country, and could potentially deter potential investors.

Cuadrilla’s project at Roseacre Wood near Blackpool would have been one of the UK’s first shale gas production locations. However, the permit refusal indicates the ongoing challenges shale exploration firms confront in surmounting local opposition.

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Officials at Lancashire County Council rejected the company’s permit application to frac at the site, saying that the operations would create too much traffic. Hopes have notcompletely been dashed though, as the council is expected to vote on a second application for a nearby site next Monday. But the writing on the wall isn’t good judging by Thursday’s decision.

Cuadrilla said it was not surprised by the decision after Lancashire council planning officers recommended that the application should be rejected. On Friday, the company issued a statement defending its proposed plans.

“We remain confident that our original proposed route, together with the proposed road improvements and traffic management plan, was safe and suitable for the modest level of HGV journeys proposed and met all necessary guidelines. We completed the most comprehensive environmental impact assessments ever carried out for operations of this kind. These assessments are the product of thousands of hours of work from independent expert environmental scientists and other engineering specialists and they demonstrate beyond question that the operations can and will be conducted safely and without damage to people’s health or their environment.”

Meanwhile, UKOG Chief Executive Ken Cronin commented, “We are saddened Lancashire County Council has rejected this application but it was expected given the officials’ report. The objections to this development are on narrow, local, site specific issues related to traffic, and on all the substantive environmental and safety matters relating to drilling of the well and hydraulic fracturing, the officials supported this application.”

The UK is estimated to contain large amounts of shale gas, and the government, led by recently reelected Prime Minister David Cameron, has been supportive of developing these reserves to compensate for falling North Sea production.

In addition to local and environmentalist opposition, Scotland lawmakers have imposed a moratorium on granting fracing permits.

So far, only one shale gas well in the UK has been hydraulically fraced. The Cuadrilla project near Blackpool was abandoned after it reportedly triggered an earth tremor that prompted the imposition of an 18-month ban on fracing. This was rescinded in 2012.

Since that time, only three shale gas fracing applications have been submitted- two by Cuadrilla and one by Third Energy.

IGas, INEOS and Egdon Resources are among the other companies active in the UK’s threatened, nascent shale gas efforts.

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