Water shortages could damage fracking prospects
Water levels threaten shale gas extraction in the UK
One of the biggest obstacles to fracking in the UK could be water shortages that affect many of the areas across the country, a new report from the industry has claimed.
In the past few months, environmental groups and concerned residents – such as those at the Barton Green site in Greater Manchester – have been the main danger to the government’s preferred method of energy production.
Water shortages could block fracking
However, according to a new report from Water UK, the levels of water needed for the process of shale gas extraction could cause shortages in areas where there is already pressure on sources.
In the past few years, some areas in the south of England in particular have had to impose hosepipe bans in order to ensure that water supplies do not run too low.
The process of shale gas extraction, or fracking, relies on large amounts of water being pumped at high pressure under water in order open up fissures in shale rocks through which bubbles of gas escape.
Concerns were raised that water supplies could run dry, though, thanks to the large quantities needed, as has happened in a number of towns around the US where fracking has taken place.
Water UK produced a report with the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), which represents fracking companies, as a way to look at the impact of fracking on Britain.
The findings, reported by the Guardian, said that although water usage will be different at different parts of the UK, there are some where it could prove problematic.
“The quantities of water needed vary by site and throughout the gas exploration and production process, but the demand could have an impact on local water resources. This demand may be met from a number of sources, including the public water supply, direct abstraction, water transported by tanker from other areas, or recycling and reuse of treated flowback or produced water.
“However, where water is in short supply there may not be enough available from public water supplies or the environment to meet the requirements for hydraulic fracturing.”
UKOOG said, however, that there are ways around the issue. It believes that water could be brought in from other areas for the work, avoiding the need to use up water supplies required for local use.
In addition, seawater could be used in some places.
Ken Cronin of UKOOG said that the agreement with the water industry, which should come from the report, “should give reassurance to local communities that the development of shale gas in the UK can proceed with minimal impact upon the local water and waste services”.
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