Enzygo insists that fracking comparisons to the US are unjustified

Enzygo fracking - Marcellus US

Enzygo, one of the UK’s leading environmental consultancies believes that fracking could definitely help to solve many of the UK’s current energy issues despite the environmental concerns raised over the last few weeks. Matt Travis, Director at Enzygo, is adamant that fracking in the UK is already far more regulated than the US and the comparisons are unjustified.

Speaking today Matt Travis commented, “Providing it is fully regulated and our blueprint for extraction is followed, then fracking should cause no more issues than the extraction of other minerals. There is no doubt that the lax state of affairs in the US has demonstrated the harm that can be done without proper environmental safety procedures and regulation but this will not be the case in the UK going forward”.

Enzygo, a specialist, multidisciplinary environmental consultancy, has already successfully secured for clients the only two UK fracking licences from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), although both are currently on hold.

Enzygo believe that the permitting and licensing processes applicable in the UK today demand the highest standards for site safety and environmental management and control. Furthermore, technological advancements in the field mean that fracking development in the UK can utilise state of the art fracking techniques which offer both safer and more tightly controlled processes. Regrettably, Regulatory Control of fracking in the United States (US) has historically been more relaxed and open to exploitation, not least because individual land owners in the US have guaranteed rights to minerals beneath their land. In contrast, the situation in the UK is far more regulated whereby the mineral rights in the UK are owned by the Crown and can only be exploited through the granting of licences.

Fracking began nearly 200 years ago in the US yet the US Environmental Protection Agency have only recently commissioned detailed studies to assess the cumulative environmental impact of such operations in response to increased public concerns. In the US fracking has been widely used in the drilling of many types of minerals including the extraction of conventional, unconventional gas and oil fields, as well as hydrothermal wells to extract hydrocarbons. In many regions of the U.S., underground injection is the most common method of disposing contaminated drilling fluids or other substances from unconventional gas extraction operations. Although re-injection of fluids can be an acceptable form of disposal, if not tightly controlled could have serious consequences and the potential to contaminate groundwater reserves below the surface.

A major factor contributing to Enzygo’s successful applications has been down to its proposal to use the nitrogen foam fracking method.  Typically, fracking involves the use of large quantities of hydraulic fracture fluids which contain a number of different chemicals that are included to improve the efficiency of the operation. Foam fracking not only uses fewer chemicals but also uses two-thirds less fluid which means the operation has far less environmental impact.

Enzygo’s applications have also included site specific operational plans which offer micro-seismic monitoring to be undertaken during the fracturing operations to provide an image record of the fracture geometry and to \”calibrate\” the fracture growth model, thus providing complete control and the ability to cease fracking immediately if seismic activity were to rise above normal fracking levels. Our applications have proposed to dispose spent fracture fluids by containing the liquid in above ground tanks to be send off for onwards disposal. Our applications do not include underground re-injection of spent fluids.

Although the British Geological Survey has been commissioned by the Government to estimate the amount of shale gas available in the UK, this is unlikely to reflect the reserves that can be economically recovered. However, in a real life example of where the potential gas resource benefits of fracking have been calculated, it has been estimated that the reserve at Bowland Shale, Lancashire, would alone reduce our demand on gas imports by as much as 27%, leading to an average, and unignorable, £3.3 billion per annum of the UK\’s trade balance being transferred from debit to credit.

At the peak of its demand, the UK requires a supply of 60 Gigawatts; yet, over the next year, nearly 12 Gigawatts of production is to close, the majority of which is supplied by old, coal-fired power stations. As UK residents, our pockets continue to be squeezed by escalating prices of gas, electricity and fuel; our US counterparts, however, have experienced a reduction in the price of their gas by around 70% (since the introduction of fracking in 2008).

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