The boss of a firm drilling for shale gas in Lancashire is mounting a defence of his company’s work as the safety of extracting the gas is increasingly called into question.
Cuadrilla Resources is drilling near Kirkham in a bid to extract gas from a vast bed of rock running from Clitheroe to Blackpool.
This week, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research from the University of Manchester released a report saying that extracting shale gas risks contaminating ground a surface water.
In the US, drilling for shale gas has been underway for some time, with mixed results. A documentary film released this week about shale drilling in America, called Gasland, shows a scene where a tap is turned on, a naked flame put to the tap, and a fireball is created, as the tap is outputting gas.
Yesterday, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, Mark Miller, said: “We are doing this by the book. We are using the best technology the industry has. We ensure nothing is going to get past our casing and into the water table.”
Mr Millar stated categorically that the process used by Cuadrilla was safe.
But Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre said the government should halt drilling until more was known about the ecological implications of shale gas extraction.
“The process by which we extract it leaves us with a whole range of concerns, particularly with contamination of ground and surface water,” he said.
However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has no plans to stop Cuadrilla from drilling. A spokesman said: “We are aware that there have been reports from the US of issues linked to some shale gas projects. However, we understand that these are only in a few cases and that Cuadrilla has made it clear that there is no likelihood of environmental damage and that it is applying technical expertise and exercising the utmost care as it takes drilling and testing forward.”
Cuadrilla believes there could be enough gas in Lancashire to supply about 10% of Britain’s future needs.