Close to half of the U.K. is suitable for shale gas fracking operations, the controversial method to extract oil and gas, according to a government report.
The report, drafted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said that close to 100,000 square kilometers of the country can be used for drilling.
The report added that at its maximum the country could have 2,880 wells, generating 16,000 to 32,000 jobs. Each well could generate 4.32 to 8.64 trillion cubic feet of gas over its lifetime -- about 20 years -- which would meet a fourth of U.K.'s annual gas demand.
Fracking has faced opposition in the U.S., from local communities citing its impact on the environment, specifically ground water supplies. But according to AMEC, consultants on the report, the environmental impact from fracking operations across the U.K. would be "manageable."
The biggest concerns are increased truck movements and depleted water supplies. AMEC said a single well will account for 51 truck movements and would be sustainable given the laws and systems in place to safeguard the environment.
Greenhouse gases emitted from the exploration phase of fracking could reach 0.96 million tons of CO2, 15 percent of the country's emissions from oil and gas exploration. The report maintains that locally sourced gas would have lower emissions than imported liquified gas.
U.K. energy minister Michael Fallon said that local communities' concerns will be taken up on the local level, with planning system and water issues will be handled by the Environment Agency.
“We have a robust system of regulations and, provided companies have gone through due process, the map shows there is a huge amount of shale gas. What’s important for public confidence is to show the system is robust," Fallon said.
[Department of Energy and Climate Change] [BBC]