Report: Businesses ‘surprisingly relaxed’ about water impacts of fracking

Key stakeholders in the use and procurement of shale gas appear unconcerned about the potential impacts of fracking on water pollution and water resources, according to a new report from a sustainability consultancy firm.

Ricardo-AEA surveyed 352 senior executives from relevant industries including energy-intensive companies, local and central governments and oil-and-gas firms and found that relatively few executives are concerned about the water impacts of fracking.

The findings are surprising given the media coverage of fracking and reports like this one from the World Resources Institute which said that fracking poses a ‘significant risk’ to freshwater supplies across the globe.

Environmental groups are also vociferously anit-fracking, with Friends of the Earth releasing research entitled Fracking Frenzy just last week. The report claims that fracking is likely to ‘further accelerate climate change, destroy water sources and infringe on communities’ rights worldwide unless urgent action is taken’.

In its own survey analysis, Ricardo AEA says that water use is likely to be ‘a manageable issue’ in the UK specifically.

Expanding gas

The surveyed executives were also enthusiastic about the development of shale gas, with a vast majority – particularly in the oil and gas sector – saying the UK should develop its shale gas resources.


Perhaps the driving factor behind this enthusiasm is price expectations, as a majority of executives from every industry agreed that shale gas could result in cheaper energy prices for businesses and consumers.

Ricardo AEA was less bullish, arguing that the fall in energy prices in the US might not necessarily be replicable for the UK.

“The UK is very different to North America in terms of physical scale, population density, regulatory controls and mineral rights,” read the report. “Consequently, we feel that shale gas is unlikely to offer a particularly cheap source of energy in the UK.”

VIDEO: Ricardo AEA explain the results of their shale gas survey.

Brad Allen

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