British geologists on the safety of fracking

January 12, 2012

From Petroleum Economist:

Leading UK geologists say hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is “very unlikely” to cause methane contamination of groundwater, adding that two earth tremors triggered by exploration last year were too small to cause damage.  Mike Stephenson of the British Geological Survey (BGS) said on Tuesday that most geologists thought fracking was a “pretty safe activity” and the risks associated with it were low. He said the distance between the shale-gas reserves, which lie between 1,500 and 3,000 metres underground, and groundwater supplies, usually found at depths of between 40 and 50 metres, made it unlikely that fracking could allow methane to seep into the water table.

“Most geologists are pretty convinced that it is extremely unlikely that contamination would occur,” he added.

Stephenson said the UK had one of the strictest regulatory regimes in the world and that two cases of methane pollution of water in the US, which had been highlighted by anti-fracking protestors there, were the result of mismanagement and were unrelated to the drilling process.



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