Fracking and Property Rights: Could companies involved in the extraction of shale gas be held to ransom by landowners or do they just need to play by the rules?
Property rights are emerging as the hottest topic in the shale gas debate. In the UK, shale gas belongs to the Crown and a licence, under the Petroleum Act 1988, is needed to extract it. However, the sub-surface strata surrounding shale gas belongs to the owner of the surface land above the area being fracked and extraction companies will need to obtain rights to drill under the land in order to extract it. Fracking for shale gas is performed in both vertical and horizontal wells and horizontal wells can be over a mile long. Therefore, a single fracking operation may require rights to drill under multiple landholdings.