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Government and industry attack green movement’s opposition to fracking

21st February 2014

The green movement’s opposition to shale gas on climate change grounds came under attack on Wednesday (February 19th) from both the Government and the hydrocarbon industry.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, and Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, both argued that shale gas would help reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate change.

Mr Osborne, in Hong Kong on the way to a G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Australia, said shale gas had reduced carbon emissions in the US. He accused parts of the green movement of being against the fuel for ideological reasons. He said limiting the impact of climate change should be done as cheaply as possible. “Let’s not be too theological about which technology we use – let’s get the right mix.” He said: “I would say let’s see more fracking and shale gas in Europe, in the UK and in China.”

In London, Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, told International Petroleum Week that environmentalists were taking a “perfect stand” by arguing against burning fossil fuels. But he argued that shale gas was a good solution to reducing CO2 emissions because, he said, it had lower emissions than coal. He accused environmentalists of “making the perfect the enemy of the good.”

Mr Egan said “We really do need to increase our gas usage and decrease our coal usage at the same time as pursuing renewable alternatives”. He said the use of coal was increasing in the UK and the country would continue to need gas for heating homes. “There is no possibility that we will be heating all of our homes with electricity in any short period of time. Firstly, we don’t have the generating capacity, and, secondly, we would have to completely overhaul the national electricity transmission system to do that.”

Responding to Mr Osborne’s speech, Greenpeace said half the proven oil and gas reserves would need to be left in the ground to avoid very serious climate change. Damian Kahya, the editor of the charity’s energy desk, said: “If you want to go out and find entirely new sources of gas and still cut emissions you need to show it’s going to stop us (meaning the world) using existing, proven, gas reserves.”

While Cuadrilla plans to frack for shale gas in the Fylde area of Lancashire next year, it has told residents at Balcombe in West Sussex that its exploration well is looking for oil not gas. According to the US Energy Information Administration diesel fuel and heating oil emits 161 pounds of C02 per million Btu, gasoline emits 157 pounds and natural gas 117.

  • The quotes from Francis Egan’s speech are taken from a report by Rigzone.com because Cuadrilla’s public relations company PPS was unable to supply a copy. PPS did confirm, however, that Rigzone.com’s report was fair and accurate.

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