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Companies across UK join push for sustainable shale

A £2m fund has been provided to ensure safety and sustainability are at the forefront of any drilling for shale gas and oil in the UK, as part of an initiative that will see companies test innovative ideas for shale gas and oil projects.

Following a competition 19 projects have been chosen that will explore at least three types of water treatment, new techniques for monitoring and technologies for well drilling and design.

The companies and projects that have been chosen include:

  • Sheffield’s Glass Technology Services, which will be using glass-based beads to keep fractures open, removing need for high-volume water use;
  • Keronite from Haverhill, which will be testing new “photocatalyst” technology for safe water treatment;
  • Wardell Armstrong, which is based in Stoke-on-Trent and around UK, plans to trial non-intrusive geophysical techniques to probe to depths of up to 3,000m;
  • Chorley-based NSG Environmental, which will be using mobile treatment plant to allow water to be re-cycled and re-used;
  • Stirling’s Cascade Technologies, which will test new types of sensors to detect methane leaks while drilling; and
  • Tumbling Dice from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which plans to use new automated systems to guide exploratory drilling processes.

UK minister for business, enterprise and energy Matt Hancock said: “Unlocking the shale gas and oil that is deep underground is an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, increase our energy security and create jobs. It must be done safely and securely, so supporting innovation in this sector is vital to help us seize this opportunity.”

The fund, which will be run by the government’s technology experts at Innovate UK, includes £1m in contributions from the Department of Energy & Climate Change and a further £250k from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Innovate UK head of energy Rob Saunders said: “Shale gas and oil could transform the energy sector in the UK, but for that to happen it’s vital that the public have confidence in the sustainability and, above all, the safety of the industry. That is where innovation plays its role and the companies that have won the very competitive process we have run here are bringing considerable expertise to tackling this problem. “

A study by EY suggests UK shale gas production could create up to 64,000 full-time equivalent jobs as well as investment and tax revenues.

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