UK Government to Step up Shale Gas Programme

on May 16, 2013
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The UK shale gas programme is likely to get a boost with a new licensing round for oil and gas explorers next year, when the government will launch the first such round since 2008.

**New Licensing Round**
On Wednesday, May 15 The Telegraph quoted energy minister Michael Fallon as saying that the new licensing round for oil and gas explorers would take place in 2014. It would be the UK’s 14th onshore licensing round and the first one since the U.S. shale gas revolution. Engineering consultancy AMEC has been hired to do the environmental assessment of plots’ suitability for exploration.

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Speaking at the first meeting of the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Unconventional Gas & Oil (APPG) in the House of Commons, Fallon explained that the government was “creating the right framework to accelerate” the development of UK shale gas in a responsible way. “We announced fracking could resume with robust regulation last December and there is nothing now stopping licensees from bringing on new drilling plans,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

Fracking, or the controversial shale gas extraction technique which involves pumping water and chemicals into rocks to force the gas out, caused several minor tremors near Blackpool and was temporarily suspended last year. In December, the government concluded that the seismic risks associated with fracking could be effectively managed and the ban on fracking was lifted.

Fallon said that it was now “up to licensees to come forward with plans to explore the shale potential engaging with local communities and gaining the necessary planning permissions and permits”.
The coming licensing round is expected to generate considerable interest, with oil and gas companies looking to explore the UK shale gas resources. The industry is also waiting for the publication of the British Geological Survey, which is expected to show that Britain has enough shale gas to heat UK homes for 1,200 years.

**Cuadrilla Resources Likely to Resume Fracking Next Year**
!m[New Licensing Round to Take Place Next Year](/uploads/story/2295/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)
Last week, The Times reported that Cuadrilla Resources, the explorer leading the way in developing the UK shale gas industry, was likely to be allowed to resume fracking near Blackpool next year. The chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, said that he was “minded to” approve eight permits covering fracking proposed by Cuadrilla at three sites in Lancashire at the end of the month.
On May 8, Cuadrilla announced plans to drill an exploration well at its Balcombe site later in 2013. In a statement, the company said that it was planning to drill and take samples of the underground rock in a vertical well drilled to approximately 3,000 feet. IGas Energy Plc (LON:IGAS), another UK shale gas player, has also recently confirmed plans to drill two wells this year to further appraise its resources in the Bowland Shale property.

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