After a two-and-a-half-year battle that veered into debates about the legacy, prosperity and stewardship of Britain’s countryside, Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. can hydraulically fracture for natural gas in northern England.
Preston, England-based Cuadrilla will be allowed to drill and frack as many as four wells, according to a ruling by U.K. Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid, practically eliminating the chance Cuadrilla will be stopped from proceeding. Javid deferred a decision on four more wells.
Javid’s decision was under close watch, with companies such as Ineos Group Holdings Ltd. that also plan to frack in the U.K. hoping to gauge sentiment toward the controversial practice, which may help offset declining conventional production. Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan has said approval will give the country a better sense of its shale gas resource base and may quell opposition to the practice if the wells are drilled without incident.
The approval “is potentially a very big deal, one way or another,” Zach Allen, president of Pan Eurasian Enterprises, said by e-mail from Rhode Island before the ruling. “What it will do is create intense interest in the results from those eight wells. Those results will move the needle tremendously.”