The global price of a barrel of oil has fallen from $110 in mid 2014 to less than $50 last month, rallying slightly in recent weeks. With fracking’s commercial viability being closely linked to the price of oil on the world stage there must be many FD’s of fracking companies looking worryingly at the graphs and their downward trends.
Last month MPs also dealt the emerging industry a bit of a body blow. A series of amendments to the Infrastructure Bill were passed in the House of Commons. If approved by the House of Lords, they would ban fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and groundwater source protection zones, as well as banning the exploitation of deposits less than 1,000 metres underground.
The politicians have also agreed that costly environmental impact assessments (EIA) must be carried out before fracking gets under way.
There is an obvious desire by the Treasury to unlock the tax revenues from the vast energy reserves sitting beneath large areas of the UK, including Kent,
However, from a community engagement perspective the battle is almost certainly lost thanks to Balcombe, and geological experts seem unable to pacify the public over their concerns for environmental damage. Combine the pressures of price and political decisions with the green lobby, and it is hard to see how the industry can get off the ground.
Some might say: “The outlook for the industry looks fracked.”