Unconventional gas
This POSTnote would explore the technological advances that have made exploitation of unconventional gas reserves a possibility for countries, including the UK, along with investigating the environmental impacts and risks of its production and use. Unconventional sources of gas such as shale gas have become increasingly accessible due to advances in extraction methods. Drivers for interest in such sources include the desire to move away from higher-carbon fuels, especially coal, and to reduce dependence on imported fuels. A recent report by the Royal Institute of International Affairs indicated that the ‘shale gas revolution’ in the United States has seen production leap from 1% of U.S. production in 2001 to 20% in 2009. Interest in shale gas has recently bourgeoned within Europe, including the UK. In July 2010, the company Cuadrilla Resources began testing and drilling for shale gas near Blackpool Tower. Royal Dutch Shell recently bought a shale gas expert company, East Resources, for £3bn, and has begun drilling for shale gas in Sweden, as has ConocoPhillips in Poland. There are concerns, however, regarding the environmental impacts of shale gas exploitation, including the possibility of contaminating ground-water supplies. Residents close to drilling sites in the U.S. have reported occurrences, although the drilling companies have denied responsibility
Short title:
Unconventional gas
Start date:
End date:
Environmental technology
Project leader:
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology of the UK Parliament (POST)