Half of the UK 'suitable for fracking', report says

People demonstrating against Cuadrilla's fracking operations Fracking is controversial and has attracted a lot of local opposition

Related Stories

More than half of the UK could be suitable for shale gas fracking, according to a government-commissioned report.

Under the maximum scenario, up to 2,880 wells could be drilled for oil or gas in a new licensing round, the report says, generating 16,000 to 32,000 jobs.

This would markedly increase lorry movements and could squeeze water supplies for local communities.

But the environmental impact would be "manageable", say consultants AMEC.

A single well might create up to 51 daily lorry movements, AMEC says, but laws and systems already in place would be enough to absorb the environmental upheaval.

Shale gas

The report, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), shows that 100,000 sq km of land is available for drilling.

BBC reporter John Moylan visits the British Geological Survey to find out which areas offer the most potential for shale gas

Under the most optimistic scenario, domestic shale gas production could total 4.32-to-8.64 trillion cubic feet of gas throughout the lifetime of a well - around 20 years.

That is enough to fulfil a quarter of the UK’s annual demand.

It says greenhouse gases during the exploration phase could be up to 0.96 million tonnes of CO2 – totalling just over 15% of the UK’s emissions from all oil and gas production.

Home-grown gas would have lower emissions than imported liquefied gas, the report maintains.

The authors admit there are still large uncertainties in this area, with the academic debate unresolved over the total emissions from fracking activities, including methane leakage when the earth is fracked.

They envisage that the sharpest environmental issues will be at the local level. The availability of water and the need for trucking are both expected to cause local controversy, especially in quiet country areas with narrow roads.

Water tankers

Energy Minister Michael Fallon: "We're stepping up the search for shale now"

Fracking – a process that involves splitting shale rocks deep underground - uses huge amounts of water, and in some places this would need to be shipped in by tanker.

Around 75% of water used for fracking flows back, and the Environment Agency wants it re-used for further fracking, with the addition of extra water.

But it is expected that in some places waste water will need to be removed from site by lorry, and the report’s authors say this could put a strain on local water treatment.

The energy minister Michael Fallon said residents’ objections would be dealt with at the local level by the planning system and water issues dealt with by the Environment Agency.

He said: “We have a robust system of regulations and, provided companies have gone through due process, the map shows there is a huge amount of shale gas. What’s important for public confidence is to show the system is robust."

He declined to answer whether he would be happy with fracking taking place under his own home.

The figures in the report are based on conjecture because it's not known how readily the rocks in the UK can be fracked to release their gas.

The report envisages that at the lowest scenario there would be just 180-to-360 wells, with 2,500-to-5,000 jobs created. The authors admitted that the number of jobs for local people on the average site might total just 17%.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

Correction: This story was updated on 19 December 2013 to make it clear that the report says it is possible that a single well could create 51 lorry movements every day.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

* May require registration or subscription

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCES 09:52:

    Usually, public finances for July show a surplus due to tax payments, but this year the Office for National Statistics says the government had to borrow £200m in the month. That's still quite a bit down on July last year when the government had to borrow about £1bn but economists had been expecting a surplus - albeit a tiny one - of £50m.

     
  2.  
    RETAIL SALES 09:39:

    British retail sales grew in July at a slower pace than forecast, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Retail sales volumes rose 0.1% in July compared to June and 2.6% growth was seen year-on-year.

     
  3.  
    PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCES Breaking News

    Public sector net borrowing for April to July was £32.4bn compared with £23bn for the same period a year earlier, official figures show.

     
  4.  
    AIR BERLIN PROFIT 09:26:

    Air Berlin, Germany's second-biggest airline, said it returned to profit in the second quarter, up 8.6m euros compared with a loss of 38m euros a year before. It also promised a restructuring programme later this year, which it will describe in September.

     
  5.  
    CHINA MANUFACTURING 09:07:
    Workers in a manufacturing plant in Chengdu

    China's manufacturing growth slowed last month, indicating a recovery in the world's second-largest economy has yet to fully take hold, HSBC said. The Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 50.3 in August from July's 18-month high of 51.7.

     
  6.  
    GIVE PEACE A CHANCE 08:53: World Service

    On the BBC World Service's Newsday, reporter Tony Bonsignore has just interviewed Sir Richard Branson, who along with 15 other global business leaders has written an open letter to governments urging them to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. The conflict has led to bans on everything from French pears to German sausages in Russia in response to Western sanctions. Branson said people in Russia, Ukraine and the West are "incredibly sad that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when so much hope was taking place, we seemed to be reverting to a cold war situation".

     
  7.  
    MARKET UPDATE 08:38:

    European markets are flat as investors await economic data due out later this morning. They are looking for indicators as to the health of the eurozone with many wondering how much longer it will be before the European Central Bank is pushed into launching quantitative easing. The biggest rise on the FTSE 100 so far today is Schroders which is up 0.86% to 2,350.00p.

     
  8.  
    JACKSON HOLE 08:23: BBC Radio 4

    More from Pippa Malmgrem. She says central banks want to argue over inflation. In the developed world, there isn't enough of it and in emerging markets there's too much. So the debate, she says, will be about whether "we keep our foot on the gas pedal with all the free money or should we start to take it away?" She suggests the data is behind what is really going on in western economies, particularly on wage rises and that inflation is already a problem for emerging markets.

     
  9.  
  10.  
    MOTORING ON 08:07:
    Nissan working on the Qashqai

    Almost 8 out of 10 cars built in the UK is exported to another part of the world - who said we don't export anything these days? That's according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It adds 5m cars have been made and shipped out of the UK since 2010, which is the best performance of any decade.

     
  11.  
    CHARITY GIVING 07:53: Radio 5 live

    "People aren't motivated by the tax element," of giving to charity, says Anne-Marie Huby of JustGiving. Charities qualify for a number of tax exemptions and reliefs on income and capital gains, and on profits for some activities.

     
  12.  
    CHARITY GIVING 07:40: Radio 5 live

    Anne-Marie Huby, co-founder of charity donation company JustGiving, is on Wake Up to Money talking about which is the most generous town in Britain. It's Bedford. She's not sure which is the tightest, though.

     
  13.  
    SAGE OF OMAHA FINED 07:26:
    Warren Buffett

    Proof that we are all human comes from the FT this morning, which reports that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has been fined nearly $1m (£603,319) by the US Department of Justice for allegedly breaching reporting requirements when building a stake in a construction supplies company. In fairness, it's basically pocket change to a man like Buffett.

     
  14.  
    WH SMITH 07:11:
    A man walks past a WH Smith store

    WH Smith said its high street business delivered a "good performance" for the year to the end of August. It publishes full results on 16 October. It expects earnings to meet analyst forecasts.

     
  15.  
    JACKSON HOLE 07:00: BBC Radio 4

    It's that time of year when central bank policymakers come to together to discuss interest rates, inflation general world economic matters - otherwise known as Jackson Hole. Pippa Malmgrem a former advisor to President Bush on all things economic tells Today this year's meeting could be more interesting than previous years because the private sector - the banks which have been the main beneficiaries of monetary policy in recent years - have been uninvited. That, she says, is because the central banks want to have an argument and want to do it behind closed doors.

     
  16.  
    BANK OF AMERICA FINE 06:45: BBC Radio 4

    Colin McLean of SVM Asset Management tells the Today programme that an expected fine for US bank, Bank of America, will be paid half in cash and half in customer redress. There have been rumours for days that the matter with US regulators is about to be settled, he says. We're awaiting the official announcement today. The fine is expected to be the biggest in corporate history but McLean says: "Nobody wants to put the banks out of business. They really want to draw a line under this, so this does that and will let them move forward."

     
  17.  
    INTEREST RATES 06:29: Radio 5 live

    "It's normal for there to be a slight difference of view," economist Marian Bell, a former Monetary Policy Committee member tells Wake Up to Money following yesterday's minutes on the interest rate decision. Two people wanted to hike the rate from its record low. "I agree wage growth is muted... it's not an argument for not moving interest rates to a more normal setting." She'd increase it by one eighth of a percentage point.

     
  18.  
    BALFOUR MERGER 06:17: Radio 5 live

    Colin McLean of SVM Asset Management is on Wake Up to Money talking about building firms Carillion and Balfour Beatty's will-they-won't-they merger talks. Balfour rejected another offer yesterday. "It may not be the end of it," he says. "It just depends the way people are approached... These things don't ever die".

     
  19.  
    CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS 06:05: Radio 5 live

    Andy Milligan, a brand consultant, is on 5 live. How come some celebrity endorsements do well and some fail? "When it goes wrong there's a problem with credibility," he says. "In some cases we've never heard of them." George Foreman and his grill worked well because boxers want to eat healthy protein, he says.

     
  20.  
    06:01: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Morning! Get in touch with us via email: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on twitter @BBCBusiness.

     
  21.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning folks. So what's new? Well, the Labour party is pledging this morning to give the energy regulator greater powers, while the US Federal Reserve has warned there is more slack in the labour market than first thought. We have public borrowing figures out later, while interest rates are still being discussed following the release of the Bank of England minutes yesterday. Stay with us - there'll be more.

     

Features

  • Pro Israel activists hold a banner reading 'Against Anti-Semitism and hate of Israel' at a demonstration as part of Quds Day in Berlin, Germany, 25 July 2014'Rising tide'

    Do statistics support claims that anti-Semitism is increasing?


  • Police respond to a shooting in Santa MonicaTrigger decision

    What really happens before a police officer fires his gun?


  • Child injured by what activists say were two air strikes in the north-eastern Damascus suburb of Douma (3 August 2014)'No-one cares'

    Hope fades for Syrians one year after chemical attack


  •  Marina Silva speaks during a press conference in Brasilia on 4 October, 2013. Humble origins

    Marina Silva - from rubber tapper to Brazilian presidential candidate


From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • Traffic lightsClick Watch

    From hacking cars to traffic lights - behind the scenes at a cyber-security conference

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.