More land to be opened up for fracking

More than 25 blocks of land across England – totalling 2,700 km2 - are being offered to oil and gas companies.

The UK regulator Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) announced today that 27 blocks of land – each around 100 km2 – will be made available in the latest Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round, following licensing applications earlier this year.

A second group of 132 blocks will be made available up at a later date.

A total of 95 applications were received in the current licensing round from 47 companies covering 295 Ordnance Survey Blocks.

Last week, the Government told councils to speed up fracking applications or risk losing the right to make future decisions.

“With almost 100 applications received, the 14th Onshore Round has attracted significant interest and high-quality proposed work programmes from a range oil and gas companies,” said OGA Chief Executive, Andy Samuel.

“Today’s announcement regarding the offer of 27 blocks gives those successful companies assurance about the blocks that they will be formally offered later in the year.”

 UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls. 

“Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use.”

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG, the representative body for the UK’s onshore oil and gas industry, welcomed the offers.

"Over 2,000 onshore oil and gas wells have been drilled in the UK, and 120 are currently operational, yet few people realise these sites are even there. The opportunity exists to create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce imports, generate significant tax revenue and support British manufacturing from an extremely small footprint which will benefit the environment at the same time,” he said.

"Research from the IoD shows that as few as 100 shale gas sites, each the size of only two football pitches, could reduce the UK’s import dependency by half.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues