Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two Sides of the Quake

England's pursuit of shale gas hit a roadblock a few months back when two minor earthquakes (2.3 and 1.5 on the Richter scale) around Blackpool were attributed to the hydraulic fracturing of Caudrilla Resources' Preese Hall-1 gas well.  Caudrilla ceased fracking operations at the well and performed a study to determine the cause of the seismic activity.  In a press release yesterday, the company said that it found that it was "highly probable" that the fracking operations triggered some seismic events.  But the study also found that it was an "extremely rare" set of geologic circumstances that led to the seismic activity that would be unlikely to reappear in future well sites.

Unfortunately, Caudrilla found the needle in the haystack, and the nascent gas industry in the U.K. and Europe will pay the price.  The findings will fuel the call for bans on fracking in Europe, even though the events are unlikely to repeat themselves.  Will it be enough to derail the pursuit of shale gas?  The U.K. is particularly aware of the need for readily accessible, affordable energy, so the debate will rage on.

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