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Britain lifts shale gas ban, imposes tighter rules

Oleg Vukmanovic

13 Dec 2012

(Reuters) – Britain lifted its ban on shale gas exploration on Thursday as it aims to become a European leader in a sector that has transformed the U.S. energy market and counter a fall in the UK’s natural gas production.

The green light on shale gas fracking from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey comes approximately a year and a half after UK authorities halted the unconventional exploration after the process set off earth tremors at one site.

“I am in principle prepared to consent to new fracking proposals for shale gas, where all other necessary permissions and consents are in place,” Davey said in a ministerial statement.

America is already reaping the benefits of surging shale gas production through lower gas prices and an expected industrial revival as gas-intensive industries from petrochemicals to manufacturing consider returning to home soil given the abundance of low-cost energy.

Europe’s largest gas consumer, Britain in May 2011 put a temporary stop to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for shale gas, a process in which water and chemicals are injected at high pressure into rock formations to retrieve trapped gas, after earth tremors were measured near a fracking site close to Blackpool.

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