Relax the rules on earthquakes to let fracking expand, say scientists

By Paul Homewood


From The Times:




Almost 50 geoscientists have urged the government to commission an urgent review of the fracking earthquake limit, which they suggest should be raised to allow the industry to expand.

They say that the scientific rationale of the 0.5 magnitude limit before fracking must cease is debatable. They call for a “realistic regulatory framework”.

The letter to the Times, signed by 49 scientists, will increase pressure on the government to accede to the fracking industry’s demand for a review of the limit. The business department repeated this week that it had no plans to review the limit despite Cuadrilla and Ineos both saying that fracking would not be viable unless it was raised.


This is the letter:

Sir, As practising geoscientists working in UK universities and institutions, we recognise the potential existence of a nationally valuable and exploitable shale gas resource, and support its development subject to a firm but realistic regulatory framework being in place. Part of this framework is the traffic-light system used to manage the risk of damage being caused by induced seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing operations. At present it is set very conservatively to be triggered by extremely small seismic events (above 0.5 local magnitude).

This is very far below the levels set in other countries, or for other comparable industries in the UK (such as quarrying, mining and deep geothermal energy). It is widely believed by industry, and among informed academics, to be so low that it threatens the potential development of a shale gas industry in the UK. The scientific rationale for this trigger level is debatable. The threshold is not something that is absolute, and in the spirit of the declared intention expressed in the original Department of Energy and Climate Change document in which it was proposed, that it should be subject to continuing review, we urge the government to instruct the Oil and Gas Authority to commission an expert review of the present traffic-light system threshold levels without delay.

Professor Quentin Fisher; Professor Ernest Rutter; Dr Nicholas Riley; Professor Gary Hampson; Dr Julian Mecklenburgh; Mr Paul Grant; Professor Andrew Hurst; Dr Simon Oldfield; Reader Emeritus Michael de Freitas; Emeritus Professor Richard Selley; Dr Mike Chandler; Professor Paul Glover; Professor Chris King; Professor Jonathan Redfern; Dr Roger Clark; Professor Bruce Yardley; Dr Tom Argles; Mr Chris A Smith; Mr Christopher Quirk; Mr Brian Nottage; Mr Gary McGuicken; Senior Lecturer Sina Rezaei Gomari; Mr Tom Morgan; Mr Richard Puttock; Miss Jane Kelsey; Mr John Beswick; Dr Piroska Lorinczi; Mr Mark Williams; Mr Stuart Chandler; Consultant Hydrogeologist Thomas Kelly; Dr Philip Benson; Mr Peter Kennett; Dr Lateef Akanji; Associate Professor Simon Holford; Dr Nick Schofield; Dr Ian Stimpson; Associate Professor Dr Mohaddeseh Mousavi Nezhad; Professor Akbar Javadi; Professor Michael Kendall; Dr Catherine Isherwood; Dr Tim Harper; Mr Kes Heffer; Dr Kate Brodie; Mr Chris Eccles; Professor Gary Couples; Professor Andreas Busch; Professor Ian Croudace; Professor Richard Worden


February 11, 2019 at 10:56AM

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