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UK kicks off shale gas bidding round

Oilfield Technology,

The UK government has announced that the bidding process for licences to extract shale gas using fracking will begin later today.

The Guardian reports that the government will invite oil and gas drilling companies to bid for onshore licences for the first time in six years, with approximately half of the country advertised for exploration.

National parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and world heritage sites will also be open to exploration, however tighter restrictions will allow drilling in these places only in “exceptional circumstances”.

Following the tightening of rules, the government will ask energy firms to submit an environmental application that is “particularly comprehensive and detailed”, if they wish to frack on or near protected land.

In announcing the 14th onshore licensing round, Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth.

“We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy.”

The coalition government considers shale gas to be a major potential energy source. Hancock added that shale gas was a “key part” of the government’s plans to address climate change and “bridge to a much greener future”, the BBC reports.

The drilling licences are likely to prove controversial, as many members of the public are opposed to fracking. Critics argue that the process can lead to earth tremors, water contamination and disruption to local rural communities.

The oil and gas industry however rejects these criticisms arguing that if properly regulated, fracking is a safe way to unlock gas resouces.

According to the BBC, the British Geological Survey estimates that there are potentially 1300 trillion ft3 of shale gas in the north of England, of which approximately 10% is recoverable.

In order to promote fracking in the UK, the government has announced a number of incentives to drilling companies. These include tax breaks, payments of £100,000 per site, plus a 1% share of revenue to local communities.

Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward

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