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North West could see 300 fracking wells open by 2031



Research has found that the North West’s Ocean Gateway could hold shale gas reserves worth £10 billion, in a discovery that could potentially lead to 300 fracking wells opening between now and 2031.

The findings are published after research claimed that the UK does not have adequate levels of regulation around fracking to protect human health and the environment. Separate research has also indicated that shale gas could have a higher impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than oil and coal.

The new report, commissioned by fracking firm IGas Energy and Peel Environmental, state that extracting shale gas in the North West could trigger a £10 billion boost for the region. Unlocking around 5 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, across an area that covers Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, could support up to 3,500 jobs, it adds.

The figures are based on developing 30 shale gas production sites, each with 10 wells, cross the area and getting the first three wells in production by 2017. In order to meet the projections the operations would have to expand year on year until 2031, when 300 wells would be operational.

John Blaymires, IGas’ chief operating officer, said, “The findings of this report highlight that the Ocean Gateway region is sitting on a potential £10 billion investment opportunity.

“We’re looking to develop the capacity from within the region to meet the supply chain requirements so that as many local people and firms as possible benefit from our capital investment. The North West has a huge opportunity to become a centre of excellence for shale gas development and technologies.”

Fracking is a controversial method because of its impacts on human health and the environment. It has been linked to water contamination and an increase in the number of earthquakes.

A report by Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health recently warned that UK regulation of shale gas developments lacks consistency regarding public health risks, local environment and water related issues.

Backers of fracking often argue that it can be used as a transition fuel as we move towards a low carbon economy. However, a paper published in Energy Science & Engineering argues that whilst shale gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal and oil, it does emit more methane, which could have a larger impact.

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr  

Further reading:

Tory MP and scientists speak out against fracking plans in West Sussex

Davos: David Cameron ‘undermining climate change efforts’ with fracking support

Fracking protest village Balcombe sets up renewable energy co-op

Cabinet reshuffle: new energy ministers oppose green energy and support fracking

Shale gas reserves in Scotland ‘not worth fracking’