UK govt to review level of seismic activity allowed at fracking sites - minister

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FILE PHOTO: Business Secretary Jacob Rees Mogg walks outside Number 10 Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government will look to stimulate the shale gas fracking industry by reviewing the level of seismic activity allowed at fracking sites, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC on Wednesday.

"The seismic limits will be reviewed to see a proportionate level," Rees-Mogg said in an interview with BBC Newsnight, to be broadcast later on Wednesday, according to a transcript released by the broadcaster in advance.

Earlier this month, new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced a moratorium on fracking, which had been in place since 2019, would be lifted. The fracking process involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure.

The industry has previously warned existing regulations, which suspend work if seismic activity of a magnitude 0.5 or above is detected, risk preventing fracking from being commercially viable.

"At 0.5 on the Richter scale, which is only noticeable with sophisticated machinery ... the fracking would not take place. That level is too low. But I can't confirm the new level because that's being looked at," Rees-Mogg said.

British fracking firm Cuadrilla had to halt fracking at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire several times in 2018 due to minor seismic events.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Sandra Maler)