The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’)
as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation. Hydraulic fracturing is an established technology that has been used in the oil and gas industries for many decades. The UK has 60 years’ experience of regulating onshore and offshore oil and gas industries.
Concerns have been raised about the risk of fractures propagating from shale formations to reach overlying aquifers. The available evidence indicates that this risk is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres. Geological mechanisms constrain the distances that fractures may propagate vertically. Even if communication with overlying aquifers were possible, suitable pressure conditions would still be necessary for contaminants to flow through fractures. More likely causes of possible environmental contamination include faulty wells, and leaks and spills associated with surface operations. Neither cause is unique to shale gas. Both are common to all oil and gas wells and extractive activities.
To read more, the full PDF can be found here: Shale Gas Extraction in the UK: a review of hydraulic fracturing