Britain offers new shale gas sites

2015-08-19 05:15

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London - Britain offered shale gas exploration licences for the first time in seven years on Tuesday, awarding new sites to companies including IGas and France's GDF Suez.

Britain's Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to go "all out for shale", hoping it will help reduce dependence on energy imports and generate additional tax revenue despite opposition from environmental campaigners.

The government's licensing round, delayed since the start of the year, offered 27 new shale gas and conventional exploration blocks and attracted 95 applications from 47 companies, the government said, showing developers are still interested in exploring for the unconventional fuel in Britain.

Other European countries, including France and Germany, have banned the use of shale gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, due to environmental concerns.

The British government also offered new blocks on Tuesday to explorers Egdon Resources and Cuadrilla Resources, as well as Swiss chemicals company INEOS.

"We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from our licences," said Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS Shale, in a statement.

The licences will be formally awarded once further assessments are carried out on a second tranche of 132 blocks that could be awarded at a later date.

Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of shale gas trapped in underground rocks.

However, progress has been slow because of opposition by local residents and environmental campaigners. Some are concerned about groundwater contamination from chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - process, while others fear the potential impact on property prices or tourism.

Despite these concerns, the government fully supports shale gas development and Tuesday's licence awards show it intends to continue pushing it forward.

Last week, it changed planning guidelines to fast-track applications for fracking after local politicians in northwest England rejected two planning permits in June.

Read more on:    david cameron  |  uk  |  fracking

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