U.K. Allows Companies to Explore for Natural Gas

August 4, 2014

For the first time in six years, the United Kingdom is allowing oil and gas companies to acquire natural gas exploration licenses. Jared Meyer, policy analyst at Economics21, explains that the nation has increasingly developed a dependence on other countries for energy:

  • The U.K. became a net importer of petroleum and natural gas in 2013.
  • Just one-third of the natural gas consumed in Britain comes from domestic sources.

Increasing energy exploration is a welcome development, but Meyer identifies some lingering problems that could keep the nation from taking advantage of fracking:

  • The gas exploration permitting process in Britain is incredibly time-consuming. Would-be explorers must first obtain a license from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and drilling is not allowed without permits from the Environment Agency and Health and Security Executive.
  • Landowners in Britain do not own the rights to minerals underneath their lands. Without that ownership, they lack the financial incentives to support energy exploration under their property.
  • Environmentalists are firmly opposed to fracking.

According to the British Geological Society, the country has an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas underground. Notably, most of Britain's natural gas deposits are in economically-depressed areas, which have a lot to gain from development in the region, explains Meyer.

Source: Jared Meyer, "Will fracking lead to a UK energy renaissance?" CityAM.com, July 31, 2014. 

 

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