Ross Davidson, 29th June 2012
A controversial method of extracting oil and gas can be managed effectively in the UK with the right regulation, according to two engineering bodies.
The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society said today that fracking – which involves fracturing rocks to force out underground resources – was not risk-free but needed stricter control.
Environmental groups have voiced concerns fracking leads to earthquakes and could contaminate drinking water in aquifers, but a review led by the two organisations found the chance of either of those events taking place was very low. Professor Robert Mair, chairman of the review’s working group, said: “There has been much speculation around the safety of shale-gas extraction following examples of poor practice in the US.
“We found that well integrity is of key importance but the most common areas of concern, such as the causation of earthquakes with any significant impact or fractures reaching and contaminating drinking water, were very low risk.”
Prof Mair said fracking was not completely free of risk, however, adding: “Strong regulation and robust monitoring systems must be put in place and best practice strictly enforced if the government is to give the go-ahead to further exploration.”