After months of shying away from debates about fracking, the onshore oil and gas industry now wants to talk.
It said the questions will be collated and answered by “third-party experts, including academics”. Answers will be posted on the website, which UKOOG said, “will become the source of independent information, written in clear language for those interested in finding out more about natural gas from shale.”
UKOOG said Let’s talk about shale was “borne out of the recognition that the general public are subjected to a stream of information from a range of sources and much of this information is contradictory”.
Its Chief Executive, Ken Cronin, said: “Let’s talk about shale offers the public an opportunity to get to know the facts, rather than being forced into listening to what others think they should hear.”
The website invites people to ask about anything they want to know and it promises to respond within 30 days, “if not sooner”. But the small print adds that questions should be about the principles of shale only. “If your question is about a particular operator, or a specific site, please direct your questions to the relevant operator instead”, it says.
Questions submitted to the website must also be concise: no more than 250 characters, including spaces.
UKOOG said people will also be able to ask questions at a vehicle touring potential fracking areas. Postcards will be distributed by local newspapers and door-drops so that people can submit a question by Freepost too. The initiative also includes:
- Presentations to local groups and organisations by geologists, academics and the business community
- Advertising on buses and in local papers and town centres with the slogan Got a question about fracking, just ask
The initiative is to be piloted in Blackpool and Preston in north west England and Lincoln and Worksop in the east midlands. It may be expanded nationally next year.
We asked UKOOG, which is funding the initiative, how much Let’s Talk About Shale was costing. It said: “The cost is in line with an initiative of this nature which gives people an opportunity to ask their questions without feeling they are being bombarded with information.”
We also asked who were the third-party experts who would be answering questions submitted to the website. UKOOG said they ranged from public bodies, independent consultancies and individual academics, inside and outside the industry. “The goal is to provide the public with the best possible answers in clear, jargon-free language”, it said.
- Last month, TalkFracking launched its website www.myfrackingquestions.org, inviting people to send their concerns about fracking to the Energy Minister, Matt Hancock. In June, TalkFracking organised debates in five cities across Britain. The organisation said it invited 88 key policy makers, scientists and industry figures to take part in the debates but none took up the offer.