On Feb 13th, 2011, a UK company Enegi, was granted an exploration license ON11/1 to prospect for shalegas under the West Clare peninsula. The area covered can be seen in the image below (taken from the Enegi website )
The method used for extracting the shalegas, and prospecting for it, is known as “hydraulic fracturing” or fracking.The picture below gives the details and there’s a sweet youtube video that has another take on it.
There are a few potential problems with the process which are as follows :
- Groundwater contamination from the fluid used in fracking.
- Groundwate contamination from the methane that escapes and is not recovered. Here’s an academic paper from Duke University in the US.
- Disposal of the large quantities of fracking fluid required.
- Earthquakes, yousaywhat, well one UK company is looking embarrassed.
- Increased greenhouse gas emissions. This type of gas extraction has more “lost” methane than normal gas extraction, so much so that Cornell University in the US estimate that it will have a higher carbon footprint than coal. This problem is discussed in an article in the Guardian newspaper