The shale of new gas

  • Huge reserves of natural gas have been revealed in North England. Though these reserves may potentially replace dwindling gas reserves from the North Sea, their method of extraction is controversial.
  • Trapped within shale formations, the gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing, a process in which fissures in the rock are opened up by pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemical under pressure into deep wells. The process has generated controversy in the US and France regarding possible links to aquifer contamination.
  • However, some environmental groups are calling for extensive investigation of the gas recovery process and associated environmental impacts before the reserves may be exploited.

The presence of a new source of gas on world markets may raise questions about the economic viability of renewable energy projects – an important aspect of the UK’s ‘green economy’.

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