Shale gas and fracking - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 21 October 2014 | Standard notes SN06073

Authors: Mike Fell, Louise Smith, Matthew Keep, Edward White

Topic: Energy, Environmental protection, Oil, petrol and natural gas, Planning

Drilling for shale gas is at only the exploratory phase in the UK. But the rapid development of shale gas resources in North America has transformed the world gas-market outlook.

In the UK, drilling for shale gas is at only the exploratory phase. But the rapid development of shale gas resources in North America has transformed the world gas-market outlook.

The consensus seems to be that shale gas will not be a ‘game changer’ in the UK as in the US. There is, for example, less land available to drill on and landowners do not own the rights to hydrocarbons beneath their land. However, in June 2013 Centrica acquired a 25% stake in Cuadrilla’s exploration licence in Lancashire and the Government and British Geological Survey published raised estimates of the shale gas resource in Northern England. The Government is also consulting on legislation to introduce tax incentives for shale gas exploration, and has announced community financial benefits.

The Queen’s speech in 2014 confirmed Government plans to streamline the underground access regime and make it easier for companies to drill for shale gas. The Infrastructure Bill has been amended to provide this.

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