Friday, October 18, 2013

Blog 6-Britain Looks to Fracking as North Sea Oil Dwindles

               Nations, like the United States, have become self-sufficient in extracting natural gas through a process called fracking. Across the Atlantic Ocean in the European nations however, environmental concerns have been stirred by the hydraulic technique. Recently France upheld its government’s right to ban fracking and in Germany fracking has been suspended until further notice. Britain on the other hand is facing struggles with its energy future because the North Sea oil reserves have become depleted. Before the end of the year a small shale-gas company, IGas, has plans to drill an exploratory well on the edge of a peat bog that geologists say looks promising. British environmental groups widely oppose shale gas fracking despite the benefits compared to coal gas. The groups are concerned not only for unpredicted seismic eruptions but also possible water pollution. Other worries that don’t directly effect the physical environment is that if shale-gas fracking proves to be a success, it will reduce the incentive to invest in renewable energies. Leila Deen, the head of energy policy for Greenpeace in Britain, said, “If you care about climate change, you shouldn’t be looking for new fossil fuels.” (2013) Not only are oil and gas companies finding new fossil fuels but also the government is preparing a favorable tax system for locals that use and support natural gas use, to reward and help overcome opposition from the community. Ian Stewart, mayor of Salford (a city where exploration drilling will be taking place), said that any company that wishes to begin fracking would have to seek separate planning permission.

Despite opposition from the community, elected officials and environmental groups in Britain, the government is supporting the exploratory drilling by IGas. If the drilling proves to be successful the government has prepared tax incentives for those who oppose the use of natural gas through fracking. Although IGas is not a big business gas company, if this process is successful they will be. This may change some aspects of globalization in the oil business. Poland has been open to shale gas exploration and has relied on Russia for most of its resources. If Britain becomes a contender for natural gas, what does that mean for the international trade of natural gas? I also have to think about what Leila Deen brought up, that although natural gas may be cleaner than burning coal, it does not help the fight to reduce greenhouse gases that effect climate change. Why are so many funds allocated towards other fossil fuels instead of the renewable energy sources the planet truly could benefit from?

Breanna Steinke
4:00 PM Oct. 18 2013

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