Fracking: Why new wells would need to be drilled every month
The technical difficulties encountered in extracting shale gas – so-called fracking – mean new wells need to be continually drilled, sometimes on a monthly basis, a new report will reveal today.
The report, by the Global Energy Watch Group will be made public at a press conference in the House of Commons.
It comes as another report, by UK scientists, suggests that Britain should use natural gas, including from shale, to replace coal and help cut carbon emissions.
Welsh firm UK Methane recently withdrew an application for coal bed methane exploration work at Hicks Gate near Keynsham but says it still intends to apply for planning permission for a full production facility there.
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The company maintains that the technology is safe and may benefit the economy.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is concerned at the possible impact of fracking on the city’s world-famous hot springs, particularly as there is interest from firms in exploring energy potential under the Mendips.
Fracking involves using high-pressure liquid to split rock and extract the gas.
Exploratory work in Lancashire in 2011 caused two small earthquakes.
The new British report, from the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics warns that it would be risky to assume gas prices will be low in the coming years or that the UK has extensive supplies of shale gas.
It adds that gas-fired power stations can only play a significant role in generating electricity beyond 2030 if they are fitted with technology to trap and store their carbon emissions.
Chancellor George Osborne has provoked controversy with moves that signalled a new “dash for gas” including proposing tax relief for shale gas exploitation.
Fracking was put on hold as a result of the Lancashire earthquakes but Energy Secretary Ed Davey ruled last December that the process could resume in the UK.
The Global Energy Watch Group report into the state of the world’s energy supplies will reveal the difficulties the USA is facing in fracking.
It says that within days of finding a supply of shale gas the extraction difficulties result in an almost immediate production decline of 7-10 per cent per month. To maintain output a rolling programme of new wells need to be drilled.
As a result in Arkansas the Fayetteville Shale Field, covers approximately 800 square miles. To extract the shale gas there are currently 3,068 wells. To maintain production as the wells decline 50 new wells have to be drilled each month.
There is only limited potential for shale supplies in the West Country.
Campaigners now fear that wells could proliferate in areas such as north Somerset.
Wells MP Tessa Munt said yesterday that she welcomed: “This invaluable report. It is of particular interest for Somerset.”
Last month Glastonbury Town Council passed a resolution that it would not support fracking in Mendip
It is concerned that the process might affect the town’s two sacred wells and the local spring water company.