Fractfile: 10 shocking fracking facts

Fracking is becoming an increasingly contentious issue in the UK. We look at the pros and cons

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It’s saved the US a packet

When the US started fracking, the benchmark price of gas in the US fell from $13 per million British thermal units (a gas measurement) in mid-2008 to as low as $2.71 in just four years.

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…but it’s banned in other countries

In France, Bulgaria, South Africa, Argentina, Switzerland and many other countries fracking is simply banned. Others, such as Germany, the Czech Republic and Spain, have no current plans to frack. In Poland, which was once seen as having Europe’s best fracking prospects, fracking firms pulled out because of difficult geology and unclear regulation. In China, it has slowed because it uses too much water. While it happens in the US, it is banned in many states.

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It causes earthquakes

One of the more troubling effects of fracking coming from the US is earthquakes. There’s also worrying (but unverified) reports of people being paid off by fracking companies after suffering health problems possibly caused by toxic fracking chemicals going into drinking water.

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…but so does coal mining

Reports are of minor earthquakes in the US - the same as can be caused by mining, which we have done for hundreds of years. Any reports about individuals being paid off are unverified.

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We’ll be less reliant on foreign imports

Fracking company Cuadrilla estimates there’s 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under Lancashire. Even assuming just a 10% recovery rate, it potentially trebles Britain’s gas reserves.

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…but leaking gas will negate our green energy work

There is no point trying to reduce emissions by switching from coal to shale gas. If gas leaks, which it often does, it will damage the atmosphere.

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The impact on bills would be less than we think

In fact, a Cuadrilla spokesman told a public meeting it would be “basically insignificant”, according to Greenpeace.

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…but even a small saving will allow our businesses to invest

Businesses, particularly large manufacturing companies, will not have to pay huge sums on energy – one of the biggest overheads of most businesses. The money they’ll save can be ploughed into investment, making British businesses in a stronger position than their foreign rivals.

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We can’t say no to everything

As a country we’re slowly turning against many energy generation options. We don’t like nuclear, wind turbines, waste incinerators, coal and fracking. We need to generate energy but almost every method has opponents.

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…but this.

Don’t play with matches, kids.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Renuables energy such as wind are only 38% to 42% efficent Tidel and wave power could raise this to 52% to 61% if the NIMB's are willing to have large structures around the cost hedlands, the most efficent energy production is Neuclear but the NIMB's dont want that as well so lets all go and berry our heads in the sand and lower our standard og life.
    They want to hold back progress for what reason I bet most of them live in splendis ingrance.

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  • Ian Middleton

    All a bit simplistic and rather poorly researched if I may say so.

    The reductions in gas prices in the US have more to do with the recession and the reduction in demand than it does with fracking. There's also some evidence that the costs of extraction have yet to be outweighed by the revenue received.

    Moreover (and in line with one of your other points) the price of gas and oil needs to be maintained in order to make unconventional extraction cost effective. As Cuadrilla's Lord Browne has admitted, there is by no means any guarantee that fracking will reduce the cost of energy in the UK. Arguably the government's reliance on it may even push the price up!

    The impact of carbon reduction has very little to do with 'leaking gas' and more with the idea that unconventional gas and oil are both captured carbon sources. Their extraction and combustion will both add hugely to our carbon emissions and will just prolong our reliance on fossil fuels when we should really be looking for long term renewable alternatives and an technologies for an overall reduction in energy use.

    Unconventional gas and oil extraction are really bottom of the barrel energy options and do nothing to safeguard the future of our environment or our energy needs. In fact in many important respects it does the exact opposite and is simply another way for companies who are irretrievably hooked on fossil fuel income to extend their grip on energy dominance with scant regard to the real costs to all of us.

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  • Anonymous

    The gas being emitted from the tap is methane but it is probably bio-methane generated by the breakdown of organic matter in the farmer's well and pumped up with the water. It might also be bio-methane which is commonly encountered during drilling of shallow water wells. It is is generated by the breakdown of organic matter by bacteria.

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