Fracking has had a long history in the UK. It has been used in offshore wells since the 1970s. However, a moratorium against onshore fracking was put in place in 2011 after small earthquakes were felt in Lancashire, England. The moratorium was lifted a year later after new regulations were put in place requiring companies to perform seismic surveys and monitor for seismic activity throughout the process.
British Members of Parliament concerned about climate change tried to ban the practice in 2015 but their proposal was rejected. That left the door open to new exploration and the approval of new onshore wells. Last week a fracking application was approved for the first time since the moratorium went into place. The BBC reports:
On Monday North Yorkshire County Council approved an application by Third Energy to frack a well near the village of Kirby Misperton in Ryedale…
“The decision in North Yorkshire was an important first step and underlined our firm belief that the process is safe and can be done environmentally sensitively,” says Ken Cronin of the industry body UKOOG.
“We expect further applications and this chimes well with the need to provide a home-grown source of gas to heat our homes.”
And firms are stepping up their exploration plans.
This week the largest independent operator of onshore oil and gas fields in Britain, Igas, said that it would drill two exploratory shale gas wells in Nottinghamshire early next year, subject to planning and permitting.
The story notes that the plan approved last week involved an existing industrial site that was already being used to produce gas. Fracking an existing well will likely continue to be an easier sell than fracking which would require new drilling.
The fracking at the site in Kirby Misperton is expected to take place within the next eight weeks.