Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 16th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report from the Dutch Safety Board in February 2015 into the man-made earthquakes in Groningen proven to be a result of shale gas extraction; and what assessment they have made of the parallels that can be drawn in relation to UK geology and the safety of the UK's shale gas operations.

Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Extraction of shale gas has not induced any earthquakes in Groningen.

The UK has over 50 years’ experience in regulating onshore oil and gas, and strong controls are in place to mitigate seismic risks. Operators have to use all available geological information to assess the location of faults before wells are drilled to avoid hydraulic fracturing near faults. They must then monitor seismic activity in real time, before, during and after operations, and halt injection if seismic activity exceeds a predefined level.

Operators must immediately stop injection if a tremor of magnitude 0.5 or greater is detected, reduce pressure of fluid in the well and then monitor seismicity for 24 hours to determine whether any later events are recorded before any further activity can take place.

This 0.5 threshold has been adopted as an initial precautionary level set on the basis of a report by a group of independent experts, and a tremor of this magnitude would only be detectable at the ground’s surface through the use of sensitive equipment.

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