UK fracking shares slide following government halt

Shares in companies with interests in fracking in Britain fell heavily on Monday after the UK government called a halt to the shale gas extraction technique, which has proved controversial with communities and environment groups.

Shares in AJ Lucas, the Australian energy services group that owns 48 per cent of UK fracking company Cuadrilla, closed down 23 per cent on the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday. Cuadrilla is the only company to have fracked so far in the UK and had been hoping to produce shale gas commercially at a site in Lancashire in north-west England.

In a statement issued on Monday, AJ Lucas said it would continue to work, through Cuadrilla, with the UK’s Oil & Gas Authority — the regulator which oversees fracking in Britain — to provide further data in an effort to try and address concerns around the relationship between fracking and seismic events “so that the moratorium can be lifted”.

Phil Arnall, chairman of AJ Lucas, said the company would continue to provide Cuadrilla “its full support, recognising that there will be unavoidable delays in operations and that continued, albeit significantly reduced, funding of Cuadrilla’s operations will be required”.

IGas, a company listed on London’s junior Aim market, also fell heavily in early trading in the UK and was trading down nearly 13 per cent shortly after 9am. IGas had been hoping to follow Cuadrilla into fracking.

The UK government on Saturday withdrew its support for fracking following a series of earthquakes at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire in August, the largest of which reached 2.9 on the Richter scale.

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It said new scientific analysis, published by the Oil & Gas Authority, “concludes that it is not possible with current technology to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking”.



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