British energy minister publishes shale 'roadmap'

Dec. 17, 2013 at 8:16 AM

LONDON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- British Energy Minister Michael Fallon said Tuesday shale natural gas is part of his country's energy future but it must be extracted responsibly.

Fallon published a regulatory roadmap outlining ways in which oil and natural gas, including shale deposits, could be exploited in the country.

"The government is keen to explore the potential for shale gas in the U.K., which could bring major benefit in terms of growth, jobs and energy security," he said in a statement. "However we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment."

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be enough shale gas inland to last the country more than 40 years though only a small fraction of land is open for exploration.

The 49-page report outlines ways in which oil and natural gas is regulated in the region. It says each application needs to go through several stages of environmental review before development can begin.

Hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process used in shale, is viewed by environmental groups as a threat to the climate.

The roadmap doesn't contain any new policies. It serves as a general guide, one Fallon said would be revised as legislation and best practices evolve.

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