Public acceptance for oil and gas is absolutely vital – industry head

The onshore oil and gas industry will be judged completely on how it works with local communities, the head of the trade body told a shale gas conference this morning.

Ken Cronin, the chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said the number one priority was public acceptance. It was, he said, “absolutely vital”.

KenCronin“If companies do not earn their social licence to operate it does not matter how prospective the rocks are they will never get the chance to find out in the UK if they are commercially viable.

“As an industry we are and will continue to be judged completely on how we interact with communities in which we operate. And how we mitigate and how we manage environmental impacts.”

To earn a social licence, Mr Cronin said the industry must “listen and keep listening, inform, reassure and keep a dialogue going, earning trust and giving something back”.

The places where the industry operates were peoples’ homes, he said. People have a right to know about what it means for them.

He said the biggest challenge facing the industry was that people had lost a connection with energy “It is something that is always there, always available. And even if people are aware of its production, it’s something that happens elsewhere”.

Mr Cronin said the industry also had to overcome fear of the unknown.  “The internet is full of misinformation and bad science.

“It is easy to rail against the injustice of these claims and the inaccuracies that they include but it will not stop those views being propagated

“The industry needs to inform our neighbours with well-reasoned, independent data, that is peer-reviewed and that is carefully and sympathetically shared”.

Asked whether investors in shale gas would get impatient in the UK, he said they needed to be realistic. “If people think doing anything in this county is going to be quick and easy they are mistaken. Unfortunately it takes a long time”, he said.

  • Ken Cronin was talking at the UK Shale Gas summit, orgaised by the Instituion of Mechanical Engineers. Our other reports from the summit:

“Lip-licking” volumes of shale gas in UK – but no full-scale production likely before 2020 – IGas

Cuadrilla banks on low returns of flowback fluid from Lancashire wells

Public sees shale gas as “the new nuclear” – Balcombe protests were the turning point

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