Unconventional oil and gas exploitation, which has developed in the UK since 2009, is regulated by four main agencies: The Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and local Mineral Planning Authorities (usually county councils). The British Geological Survey only has an advisory role, as have ad hoc expert committees. I firstly define terms, and summarise the remits of the regulators and background history. Fourteen case histories are then discussed, comprising most of the unconventional exploitation to date; these cases demonstrate the failure of regulation of the geological aspects of fracking operations in the UK. The regulators let inadequacies in geological understanding, and even mendacious geological interpretations by the hydrocarbon operators slip through the net. There are potentially severe implications for environmental safety—if and when permits are granted. Geological pathways, if not properly understood and mitigated, may lead to long-term pollution of groundwater and surface water; methane and H2
S emissions. Induced earthquakes have not been well regulated. The case histories demonstrate a laissez-faire and frequently incompetent regulatory regime, devised for the pre-unconventional era, and which has no geological oversight or insight.
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