Northern Ireland

Fracking for oil and gas 'safe' says report

Drilling for gas
Image caption The gas is extracted from shale rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Fracking for oil and gas is a safe process, providing proper safety measures are taken, according to an independent report.

Fracking is seen as a controversial way of extracting gas or oil from the ground and could be used in Northern Ireland.

It is a process where rock deep underground is split or fractured by forcing liquid into it to release oil or gas. A report on Tuesday confirmed minor earthquakes near Blackpool were caused by a fracking operation.

Although the earthquakes are tiny and unlikely to cause any damage on the surface, the report does make some recommendations that could further mitigate the risk.

These include setting an earthquake level so low that it would be unlikely to be detected on the surface.

If a fracking process causes more powerful tremors then it must be stopped immediately.

Effectively, the report suggests fracking could go head but with much tighter controls and safety levels.

But the measures are unlike to be accepted by lobby groups who have been demanding a total ban on any fracking operations in Northern Ireland.

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