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Thu May 31, 2012, 05:08 PM

International Agency Calls for Action on Natural Gas Safety

Forcing natural gas out of shale rock through hydraulic fracturing is riskier than conventional gas development and requires tougher rules than those now in place, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in a new report.

The IEA says such measures are entirely feasible, adding at most 7 percent to the costs of drilling. And the agency says they are necessary.

"There is a very real possibility that public opposition to drilling for shale gas and other types of unconventional gas will halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven in a statement. "The industry must win public confidence by demonstrating exemplary performance."

Among the standards IEA advocates: Full, mandatory disclosure of "fracking" chemicals, "robust rules" on well construction and design to prevent groundwater pollution, and an aim for zero venting and minimal flaring of methane. Methane, the major component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas.


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