The goal is to bring natural gas to the surface, compress it, and feed it into the national supply. From there it is used in homes for heating and cooking, by industry to produce goods and in power stations to generate electricity.
Small amounts of gas brought to the surface, especially in the exploration phase, cannot be used. In these instances controlled burning of natural gas, known as flaring, is used to reduce emissions from shale sites. Occasionally, where necessary for safety, gas may be released into the atmosphere. Beyond exploration, operators will have a commercial incentive not to flare gas, as the gas could otherwise be sold.
Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London said: “The gas is separated from any other fluids and compressed. It is then either combusted on site to generate electricity (as now happens at the Elswick field in Lancashire), or pumped directly into the national gas grid, as happens to the gas produced by the Albury field.”