* Shale gas has smaller carbon footprint than LNG, coal
* Says cost of low-carbon technology should be reduced
LONDON, Sept 9 Shale gas production in Britain
should not hinder the UK's ability to meet its climate change
targets, a report by the Department of Energy and Climate
Change's chief scientific adviser suggested on Monday.
Britain is in the early stages of shale gas exploration but
the government is eager to stimulate a U.S.-style production
boom and offset dwindling North Sea oil and gas reserves.
To encourage investment, the government unveiled tax breaks
for shale gas producers in July.
However, opponents of "fracking", which retrieves gas and
oil trapped in tight layered rock formations by injecting a
high-pressure chemical solution, fear the process may trigger
small earthquakes and pollute water supplies.
"Our study indicates that shale gas, if properly regulated,
is likely to have a greenhouse gas footprint no worse than the
other fossil fuels that society currently depends on," the chief
scientific adviser, David Mackay, said.
The report estimated that the emissions intensity, or carbon
footprint, of shale gas extraction and use is likely to be
between 200 and 253 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per
kilowatt hour (CO2e/kWh) of chemical energy.
This compares to a 199-207g CO2e/kWh emissions intensity for
conventional gas and 233-270g CO2e/kWh for liquefied natural
Coal has an emissions intensity of 837-1,130g CO2e/kWh.
Britain aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80
percent by 2050.
The report advised that the cost of low-carbon technologies,
such as carbon capture and storage, should still be reduced to
ensure shale gas exploration does not increase emissions.
An international climate deal was also needed to help curb
It has been estimated that Britain might have major shale
reserves (around 1,300 trillion cubic feet) but the amount that
could be developed commercially is uncertain.
"Nobody can say, for sure, how much onshore UK shale gas
resource exists or how much of it can be commercially extracted,
so we can't bank on shale gas to solve all our energy
challenges, today or this decade," said Edward Davey, secretary
of state for energy and climate change.
"We must make sure that the rigorous regulation we are
putting in place is followed to the letter, to protect the local
environment," he added.
Cuadrilla is the only company to have fracked a shale gas
well in Britain, making its activities a target for protesters.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney and Karolin Schaps; Editing by Dale