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London — * Shale revenues should be used to fund low carbon R&D
* Shale climate impact similar to conventional gas, below LNG
* Shale gas should not prohibit low carbon energy industry

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Commercial extraction of shale gas in the UK could provide the country with a "useful transition to a low carbon long-term future" and the development of shale gas within the UK should be in tandem with low carbon energy development, the UK's Task Force on Shale Gas said Wednesday in its Third Interim Report.

In addition, the report said the environmental impact of shale gas would be "similar" to that of conventional gas, and "less than" that of Liquefied Natural Gas, providing that fracking drill sites were properly regulated.

"In this case, the Task Force is persuaded that, if properly regulated, implemented and monitored, shale gas should be explored as a potential gas source to meet UK energy needs," as it is currently "not feasible" that renewable and low carbon technologies can meet the UK's energy needs in the short-term, the report said.

The Task Force on Shale Gas, launched in September 2014, recommended that potential revenues from the shale gas industry should be used to invest in research and development and innovation in forms of low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution.

The Task Force is funded by the UK's shale gas industry but operates independently.

"We would encourage the Government to expedite the development of a Carbon Capture Storage industry in the UK that would, ideally, grow concurrently with any shale gas industry" and that shale gas extraction and commercial use in the UK should not "prohibit or slow the development of renewables and low carbon energy industry," it said.

The UK government is firmly behind the commercial use of shale gas in the UK, with 27 onshore blocks offered to companies from the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round.

"It is important we press on and get shale moving," said UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne. "We continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK."

Last month, UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd outlined new measures to fast- track shale planning applications, including potentially bypassing local councils if the application decision process is not determined within a 16- week timeframe or if councils underperform during the application process.

In June, Lancashire County Council refused oil and gas company Cuadrilla permission to begin experimental fracking at two sites in the Northwest of England, despite having recommended that fracking at the Little Plumpton site should be given the go-ahead.

The UK is estimated to hold between 23.3 Tcm and 64.6 Tcm, with a central estimate of 37.6 Tcm, according to a report published by the British Geological Survey in July 2013 on behalf of the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

--Gary Hornby,
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,