700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil, more than a year’s supply for Britain, has been found in an area south of London known as the “stockbroker belt” due to the high number of wealthy financiers that live there. Well guess what? London’s wealthy don’t want fracking in their backyard either.
The United Kingdom recently lifted its ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial mining process that involves blasting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals underground to release fuel from rock, commonly referred to as fracking. Even though fracking has been linked to earthquakes, and the mysterious fracking fluids have shown up in local water supplies as well.
Shale oil companies are attracted by the U.K. government’s plan to give tax breaks to stimulate a shale industry that can sustain domestic supply as the North Sea output shrinks and fuel imports rise. So when the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated 700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil were locate south of London in parts of Surrey and Sussex, U.S. private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners LP jumped that the opportunity to start fracking. The problem is the average price of a home in the area is 471,300 pounds – that is around $722,000. It’s quite the posh place to live.
The fracking industry is not known for its scruples. However, money talks and the people of south of London who are in the path of this fracking project have lots of money. Currently, lobbying from Friends of the Earth has forced the local regulator to insist on additional permits before any drilling or fracking can start.
There are two sides to every story of course and that is certainly the case here. Proponents of fracking in the area claim that the project would bring much needed jobs to the region and be an overall boost to the economy. However, with Surrey being home to celebrities at the caliber of Ringo Starr and royalty such as Prince Edward it would not be surprising if fracking, and the jobs that do come with it, don’t get started in the area anytime soon. Wonder how many of these equity guys are invested in similar fracking operations?
Quite frankly, it sounds like poetic justice.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison