Politics

Fracking week in Westminster – w/e 14th Nov

Transcripts of parliamentary questions, answers and debates on fracking and onshore oil and gas for the week ending 14th November 2014

This week saw a big day for the Infrastructure Bill – see our special report

Also questions on:

  • Safety of fracking
  • Ratio of energy needed for extraction to the energy produced
  • Radon in shale gas

With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com

10th November 2014

Energy questions

Q Anne McIntosh (Conservative, Thirsk and Malton)
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what recent representations he has received on the safety concerns relating to fracking; and if he will make a statement.

A Matthew Hancock, (Minister of State for Portsmouth; West Suffolk, Conservative)
The Department regularly receives representations regarding safety, or other concerns, relating to shale gas development and exploration and we have produced a range of guidance material which set out how these concerns are addressed. These can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/providing-regulation-and-licensing-of-energy-industries-and-infrastructure/supporting-pages/developing-shale-gas-and-oil-in-the-uk

We have a strong regulatory framework in place to ensure a comprehensive regime for exploratory activities, and the UK has over 50 years of experience in oil and gas drilling. All of the right regulations are in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, air pollution and mitigate seismic activity.

In June 2012 the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering published an independent review of the scientific and engineering evidence on risks associated with UK shale gas development. Their report concluded that environmental (and health and safety) risks can be managed effectively in the UK, when operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

In June 2014, Public Health England published a report that evaluated available evidence on issues including air quality, radon gas, naturally occurring radioactive materials, water contamination and waste water. They concluded that “the risks to public health from exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction are low if operations are properly run and regulated.”

Q Chris Bryant (Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions); Rhondda, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what estimate he has made of the ratio of energy used in extraction, including to energy produced, taking into account transportation costs and possible damage to infrastructure.

Matthew Hancock
Data on energy production and energy use in extraction are published in Table 1.1 of DUKES (Digest of UK Energy Statistics).

Thousand tonnes of oil equivalent

Coal extraction Oil and gas extraction
Domestic production 8,025 80,991
Energy industry use in extraction 84 4,725
Ratio of energy used in extraction to production 1:95 1:17

Energy used in transportation is published in the energy balance table, but DECC is unable to estimate the share of this associated with energy extraction. Damage to infrastructure is not estimated within energy statistics.

Health Questions

Q Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what methods will be used to assess whether the levels of radon contained in shale gas gathered by hydraulic fracturing are safe enough to allow the shale gas to be burned on gas hobs in poorly ventilated kitchens.

A Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative)
The Public Health England review of the potential public health impacts of shale gas extraction considered the potential presence of radon in natural gas containing shale derived methane.

A number of techniques are available for measuring the concentration of radon in methane including scintillation counting of a methane gas sample.

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