Extracting Gas Responsibly
Shale Gas Extraction
Whilst shale gas has the potential to offer enormous benefits, it is understandable that many people have questions over both its extraction and production. In order to extract the natural gas from shale rock, a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is used. Both of these technologies have been used in Britain and around the world for decades without incident.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it has now become known, is not a new technology; it was actually invented in 1947, and has been a standard practice used for much of the world’s energy extraction, including in the North Sea. Over this time, it has become established as a proven, safe and well-regulated process. Of the 2,000 conventional wells drilled onshore in the UK since the Second World War, around 200 of these have used fracking without incident.
Fracking works by injecting a mixture of water and sands with a small amount of common household chemicals into shale rock under very high pressure. This causes the rock to fracture, releasing the oil and gas trapped inside, which is then pumped to the surface alongside the waste fracking fluid.
Fracking has caught the public imagination over the past decade in particular, in part due to its role in enabling a new energy revolution in the USA that has transformed the country’s economic fortunes. Now it has potential to help the UK economy too.