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A pump jack draws oil from the ground near a hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012.
A pump jack draws oil from the ground near a hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012.
(Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail)

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Nevermind the quakes, worry about British public opinion

Britain is in hot pursuit of shale gas after a government decision to lift a moratorium on drilling that was imposed 18 months ago. The green lobby is enraged, a number of gas exploration companies are relieved and the rest of Britain is bemused.

In North America, shale is big business, a resource that has helped to keep the U.S. economy moving in the teeth of a global downturn. There are even plans to export liquefied gas to Britain and Europe. On this side of the Atlantic, shale gas and oil never really caught on because of different geology, anti-American prejudice and suspicion and some disappointing exploration in Poland. There is no doubt that there are large deposits of shale in Britain; Cuadrilla, a small exploration company drilled a number of exploratory wells in Lancashire two years ago.