Britain has lifted a ban on fracking, a controversial fossil fuel prospecting method, to boost oil and gas production after Russia’s war with Ukraine.
The UK has officially lifted a moratorium on shale gas fracking in place since 2019, saying boosting the country’s energy supply is an “absolute priority”.
Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said all sources of energy needed to be explored, “so it is right that we have lifted the pause to identify all potential sources of domestic gas”.
“In the light of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and arming the energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority,” he said.
Fracking, a process that involves blasting water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to release shale oil and gas, has been banned after the industry regulator said it couldn’t measure the magnitude of the earthquakes it caused could trigger to predict.
Under the rules, fracking operations were halted any time the practice caused an earthquake of magnitude 0.5 or higher, a level scientists say would need to be raised if Britain is to develop a fracking industry.
A review of acceptable seismic activity on Thursday found that limited exploration to date meant the understanding of the risks was incomplete.
The government said lifting the ban would allow drilling to resume and gather more data to build research on how to safely mine shale gas where there is local support.
In a statement, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed support for a new oil and gas licensing round next month for 100 new licenses.
It also published the British Geological Survey’s scientific report on shale gas exploration, which was commissioned earlier this year.
“The review recognized that we currently have a limited understanding of UK geology and onshore shale resources and the challenges in modeling geological activity in relatively complex geologies sometimes found at UK shale sites,” the statement said.
Environmentalists have accused Truss of backtracking on predecessor Boris Johnson’s firm pledge to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, arguing the process pollutes water supplies, harms wildlife, causes earthquakes and is global climate change contributes.
Government spokesman Max Blain insisted that Truss is “committed to net zero,” but to get there “it involves the use of transitional fuels like oil and gas.”