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UK may replicate US energy boom as more shale gas found

Published time: June 28, 2013 12:01
Edited time: December 24, 2013 15:30
Reuters / Mohammed Ameen

Reuters / Mohammed Ameen

Britain’s government calls to start fracking as the country doubles its estimate of shale gas resources in the north of England, raising hopes of reducing growing reliance on imports and blackout risks.

A new study from the British Geological Survey estimated that 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas lie trapped in shale rock beneath northern England, which is far more than current proven UK gas reserves. However, it is unclear how much could be extracted, the WSJ reports. If it’s only 10 percent - it would be enough to supply the country with gas for 25 years, the Independent writes.

Combined with other measures to support renewable and nuclear energy announced Thursday, the shale gas resources will help the UK "unleash the energy revolution our country needs,” WSJ quotes Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.

The energy regulator Ofgem has warned the UK could have just 2 percent of spare electricity generating capacity by 2016 and said its findings “illustrated the need for the timely implementation” of the new strategies, the Independent reports.

Unveiling Britain’s energy strategy for the next decade, the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, outlined new incentives for investors to replace Britain’s ageing coal, oil and nuclear power stations with new renewable and gas generators.

Among them - a package of community incentives designed to overcome sometimes strong local opposition to fracking, the technique that has unlocked vast reserves of shale gas in the US. Shale explorers would have to share revenues with local communities paying 100,000 pounds (US$152,000) per well where fracking takes place and 1 percent of revenues once production starts.

Britain, Europe's largest gas consumer, hopes to follow the United States into energy independence by exploiting shale gas. Its gas imports are expected to surpass domestic North Sea production by 2015, Reuters reports.

A year-long ban on drilling was recently lifted after the government imposed more stringent rules on fracking to reduce any earthquake risks.

Major energy companies bet on Britain's shale gas. UK utility Centrica recently bought a stake in Cuadrilla, the most advanced shale driller in Britain. French oil major Total also said it would like to explore for shale gas in Britain, Reuters reports.

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