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British Shale Gears Up for Major Milestone


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July 28 2017


A UK company is going where no one has gone before, as it prepares to drill the country’s first commercial shale well in the hopes of starting a shale boom that Britain can call its own. The FT reports:




The UK has plenty of shale gas—some 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of it, at last estimate. But local opposition and concerns over drilling’s impacts on communities has kept that gas in the ground. Unlike a number of other European countries that have failed to replicate America’s extraordinary success in shale formations, the resource isn’t the problem for Britain. Rather, the country’s higher population density (as compared to the United States) has made NIMBY concerns all the more pressing.

Compounding that is the country’s lack of mineral rights for landowners—if you own property in the UK, you don’t necessarily own what’s underneath the surface, so you can’t negotiate comfortable deals with shale drillers to compensate you for the disruption of fracking (which, again, is a contrast to the United States where landowners do retain mineral rights and therefore have an incentive to extend invitations to frack).




But the nascent British shale industry yet grows, albeit slowly, with three companies pursuing exploratory wells. If Cuadrilla can successfully demonstrate the commercial viability of this new well, fracking could start to gain momentum in a country that badly needs some good domestic energy news. We’ll be watching.

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