Natural gas produced from shale is often referred to as unconventional because of the methods used to extract it from rock beds. Advances in technology, notably hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ over the last decade have made shale gas development economically viable. Shale gas is making a significant contribution to US gas production — having risen from around 2% of US production in 2000, to 14% in 2009, and it is forecast to continue rising to more than 30% by 2020.
There are serious concerns over the environmental impact both of the gas itself and the methods used to extract it. Unconventional gas development in the UK is at an early stage. Planning permission has been given at a number of sites in Wales for exploratory drilling for shale gas.
Further planning permission would be required for a full-scale extraction process. Concerns have been raised from environmental groups about the local environmental impact of shale gas extraction, including the risk of earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater.
The Welsh Affairs Committee has invited written submissions and requests observations on the following issues:
- the importance of gas to the UK’s overall energy needs and the potential role shale gas could play within it
- The potential for shale gas exploration and commercial level extraction in Wales
- The potential environmental and climate change impact of extraction and use of the gas
- Whether the current regulatory regime covering such activity is adequate; and
- The potential economic impact of shale gas production in Wales
- The role of the Wales Office and the Welsh Government in developing a policy framework for the exploration of shale gas
The Committee asks for written submissions on this issue in accordance with set guidelines, and the deadline for written submissions is noon on Wednesday 14th August 2013.
Submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Welsh Affairs Committee website.