As the fracking boom takes hold across the United States, several companies have already announced their plans to start fracking operations in the state.
The Wall Street Journal reports that at least four major companies are preparing to start drilling wells in the Bakken and Permian oil and gas basins, with at least one of them already under construction.
The Journal also reports that a number of other major oil and natural gas companies, including BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, are planning to drill in the area.
And in the last week, a group of energy companies including Duke Energy, Devon Energy, and ConocoPhillips has begun testing the waters for drilling wells near the Permians.
With oil and shale gas drilling expected to continue in the United Kingdom, one of the most notable questions surrounding fracking has been how well it would work in a nation where fracking is banned.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that it would be a “challenging task” for the industry to make hydraulic fracturing work well in the UK.
The researchers analyzed the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas production in the country, looking at both the effects of drilling and drilling-related environmental impacts.
They looked at fracking in three shale gas plays in the British Isles: the North Sea and the West Sussex Lowlands, the Cairngorms and the Moselle.
They found that the fracturing process would result in “significant increases in the amount of gas released during hydraulic fracturing” and that “fracturing would reduce the likelihood of the formation of gas hydrates in shale rocks” by as much as half.
The researchers also found that “the fracturing process could result in gas leaks in shale deposits” that “would be particularly problematic” in the lowlands, which they said is “the most exposed to gas emissions from shale gas development.”
This would mean that the potential for an environmental spill in the U.K. from fracking operations would be “significantly greater” than the amount from natural gas drilling, and that this would be particularly true if fracking is allowed in the areas that the study considers to be particularly susceptible to gas leaks.
“We conclude that hydraulic fracturing, as proposed in the EU and U.S., would be difficult to implement in the high-risk lowland and Mosele shale regions in England,” the researchers wrote in the study.
“Moreover, we do not see the necessary conditions to allow a successful implementation of this process in the future.”
Other major fracking companies are also looking at whether they could operate in areas where fracking bans have already been imposed.
Chevron is looking at how it might get its gas produced in places like the Cumbrian Lowlands.
And the Canadian oil company Enbridge is exploring whether it might be able to extract gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, a number other major shale gas companies have been working on developing hydraulic fracturing operations.
In January, a study published by the journal Nature Geoscience estimated that there were up to 50 million shale gas wells around the world.
That same month, a report from the World Resources Institute concluded that the U