Shale gas case study – Fracking bonanza unproven
The UK government has lifted its moratorium on shale gas fracking, but could shale gas ultimately be a bridge to nowhere?
The British Geological Society’s long-awaited upwardly revised UK shale gas resource estimates will be released in March. But for all the UK media hype, the case for shale gas as a bridging fuel that allows continued reliance on fossil fuels while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is looking increasingly forlorn.
Recent studies on “fugitive emissions” suggest that when it comes to climate change, shale gas is frequently no cleaner than coal. There is evidence that the financials don’t properly pan out, either. Sustained, low gas prices have made the cost-intensive extraction process financially unviable. In the US, shale gas schemes are paying out less than originally estimated.
The jury is still out on the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing of gas-rich shale. While 2D and 3D seismic surveys can reduce uncertainty and improve target-setting – and so increase the efficiency of the process – there is no doubting the impact of the actual fracturing...