LONDON -Britain ordered an expert report on shale gas fracking on Tuesday, saying all energy supply options should be on the table in light of soaring oil and gas prices exacerbated by the Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"While it remains the case that shale gas extraction is not the solution to near-term price issues, it is right as a government - given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Putin's regime - that we keep all possible energy generation and production methods on the table," business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said.
Britain, which imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2019, is set to publish a new energy strategy this week that is expected to contain plans to boost domestic energy supply in an effort to shield the country from surging global prices.
The fracking process, which involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure, is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who say it is at odds with Britain's commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Kwarteng requested that the British Geological Survey submit the report to him before the end of June.
He said the current fracking pause in England would remain in place unless the latest scientific evidence demonstrated that shale gas extraction was safe, sustainable and of minimal disturbance to those living and working nearby.
Last week British fracking company Cuadrilla, which owns the country's only two viable shale gas wells, was given a year's extension to evaluate whether it could extract gas safely and provide an alternative energy supply.