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Fracking body slams claim UK needs 6,000 shale gas wells

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A leading fracking industry body has disputed claims that 6,100 shale gas wells are needed to halve UK gas imports. 

UK Onshore Oil and Gas group chief executive Ken Cronin rubbished a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and carried out by Cardiff Business School researchers. It said that a new well will need to be drilled every day between 2021 and 2035 to halve the demand for imports. 

Cronin stands by his firm’s earlier report which puts the number of wells required at just 4,000, claiming that the FoE report was based on out-of-date data.

Cronin said: “This is a poor-quality report, which uses data for well productivity which is years out of date and far lower than the current US average to arrive at artificially high numbers of wells.

“Average production from each well in the US is now nearly twice the level of even the report’s optimistic scenario.

“We have publicly set out how 4,000 laterals drilled over the next two decades would reduce the UK’s gas imports by half, and we see no evidence in this report to refute that.”

The land needed for fracking – also known as hydraulic fracturing – infrastructure could cover between 3,500ha to 9,600ha, according to the research.

Cuadrilla and Third Energy have been granted planning permission to start drilling in Lancashire and North Yorkshire respectively.

Green campaigners have protested against the process, which involves drilling down into shale rocks and injecting a high-pressure water mixture to trigger the release of gas. They say it will ruin the environment and is unnecessary due to the rise in renewable energy capacity. 

Campaign to Protect Rural England senior infrastructure campaigner Daniel Carey-Dawes said: “With technologies now enabling us to effectively harvest renewable energy sources, this is where our efforts, time and money should be invested.

“The English countryside we know and love is the breathing space for us all. It must not become an industrial testing ground for a fracking industry that has no environmental, economic or social licence.”

Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit head of analysis Jonathan Marshall said the report highlighted the challenges fracking faces in making a dent in British gas imports, and how reliant the UK is on gas for heat and power generation.

He added: “The report also starkly highlights how overly-dependent we are on natural gas in the UK, for so much of our power generation and almost all of our heating.

“While there is a plan to reduce reliance on gas for electricity, the same can hardly be said for heat.

“Slashing energy waste by bringing back zero-carbon homes, exploring low-carbon solutions such as heat pumps or hydrogen, and looking for innovative solutions for industrial heat are likely to be high priorities within the [government’s] Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department, and could ensure that neither fracking nor high levels of gas imports will be needed in the future.”

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