In this week’s Fracking Week in Parliament:
- The Scottish Government, fracking and INEOS shipments
- Lobbying for shale gas in the European Commission
With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts.
20 September 2016
Debate on the economy and the EU referendum
Alexander Burnett, Conservative, Aberdeenshire West
Extract from speech
On a more topical source of energy, given recent events, the SNP will be pleased to hear that our main supplier of imported shale gas—America—is also a non-EU member. My only displeasure with that trade is that it comes at the cost of Scottish jobs and our economy.
Ineos, which operates the Grangemouth plant, will celebrate the first shale gas shipment arriving in Scotland next week. It says that shale gas has helped to safeguard the future of the plant and has created new jobs and investment.
However, the Scottish Government has snubbed the event, which has prompted suspicions that it does not want to be associated with fracking. That is a childish approach that would not be replicated around the world. It is time for the nationalists to recognise the value of shale. Although a weak pound is good for our exports and manufacturing businesses, this is certainly not the time to spend hard-earned foreign exchange on fuel that we could produce here.
Published 22 September 2016
Question on lobbying for shale gas
Question by Dominique Bilde MEP (Front National, France)
A 2015 newspaper article reported how the NGO Friends of the Earth had walked away from the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction, which was set up by the Commission’s in-house science hub, the Joint Research Centre (JRC).
The NGO accused the organisation of lobbying the Commission to make shale gas part of its energy strategy.
An investigation into the network’s make-up revealed that, of the 60 members that do not work for the Commission (out of a total of 74), 70% either represent or have financial links with the fracking industry and fewer than 10% are from civil society, whereas all the big companies in the industry (Shell, Total, GDF Suez, etc.) are represented. The Commission has dismissed many of these claims.
The European Ombudsman, Ms Emily O’Reilly, has put forward a number of recommendations designed to make groups of this kind more transparent and balanced. What steps does the Commission plan to take as a follow-up to those proposals?
Can it provide exact details of the make-up of the network, such as the stakeholders involved and their affiliations?
Can it provide assurances that the network strikes a fair balance between shale gas advocates and opponents?
Reply by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
The objectives of the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction (the ‘Network’) were set out in its public mandate: ‘To collect, analyse and review results from exploration projects as well as to assess the development of technologies used in unconventional gas and oil projects’(1). The Network was established following the 2014 Communication on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons using high volume hydraulic fracturing(2).
The Network neither advised the Commission on policy making decisions, nor was involved in the preparation of legislative proposals or their implementation(3). It was aimed at gathering available technical and environmental information for the benefit of all parties.
The Commission made every effort to ensure a balanced composition, with a call for expression of interest which was open to practitioners from research, academia, industry and civil society, regardless of their position in favour or against shale gas extraction. Further applications for membership were possible at any time(4). The list of participants is available in the annual report of the Network(5).
The Network held its annual conference on 23 February 2016, announcing that the two working groups respectively on exploration projects in the EU and on emerging technologies for well stimulation had broadly fulfilled their purpose. In March 2016, JRC published the annual report of the Network and announced that no further working group meetings will be convened. The Commission will continue to work on the scientific and technical aspects of unconventional hydrocarbons.
The Commission replied to the European Ombudsman on 14 June 2016.
(2) COM/2014/023 final/2
- The Westminster Parliament has a recess for the party conferences and returns on 10 October 2016
- Fracking Week in Parliament – week ending 16 September 2016 has been updated to include an extract of a speech by Gordon Marsden on university funding