Science, Tech & Environment

VIDEO: U.K. debating whether to expand fracking onshore

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Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. hopes to expand the use of fracking in the United Kingdom to gain access to more onshore natural gas deposits.

In the United States, fracking has helped make more oil and natural gas available for extraction.

In the United Kingdom, however, the very controversial procedure is still used much less frequently. Now, Britain is weighing the pros and cons of allowing more companies to go forward with fracking, which involves blasting sand, water and chemicals into shale to extract more natural gas.

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. has been exploring a gas producing region in northern Britian and has drilled two wells through conventional means. Eric Vaughan, COO of Cuadrilla, said his company is hoping to use fracking to create a path for the gas to be extracted.

"In the UK, it has very good potential," he said. "What we're doing now is exploring to see how much we could get out of the ground."

But earlier this year, a series of mini-earthquakes were reported and they're being attributed to fracking. Residents in the area are concerned that more fracking could lead to bigger or more frequent earthquakes.

"If the fracking goes ahead, that will be a great disaster. This is the salad bowl of England. It would be a shame for the farmers. If no one wants to buy the crops, the farmers' livelihoods are gone," said Christine Dickinson, an organic farmer in the area.

There's believed to be enough natural gas, onshore, to supply the U.K. for about a year and a half, plus to create 5,600 jobs. The U.K. gets just 1.5 percent of its gas from onshore sources today, as opposed to imports and off-shore. In the United States, 22 percent of gas comes form onshore sources.

Graham Bentley, a fracking opponent, has organized a group opposed to the U.K. following the U.S. down the same road with fracking.

"I've looked at America and it seems quite scary that the industry has been fairly badly regulated," he said. "It seems like most people wish the company weren't there."

Of course, many American companies point to benefits. With the use of fracking, the United States has become to largest producer of natural gas.

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