Steel union backs UK fracking


The main steel union, Community, has backed the UK fracking industry saying it could support thousands of jobs in the supply chain.

Today the union signed a memorandum of understanding with UKOOG, the onshore industry body, to promote home-produced oil and gas.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:

“The future development of home-grown oil and gas has the potential to support thousands of jobs through its supply chain, including in the steel industry, as long as it is part of a joined-up industrial strategy for the UK. We look forward to working with UKOOG as this vitally important industry continues to develop.”

Community and UKOOG said UK-produced oil and gas would:

  • Secure future energy supplies
  • Reduce UK reliance on  imports
  • Create highly-skilled jobs
  • Help the UK move to a low carbon energy future.

Community is affiliated to the Labour Party, which now opposes fracking. At the party conference in September, energy minister, Barry Gardiner, announced Labour in government would ban fracking.

The GMB – the other large union to actively support fracking – said this meant Britain would have to rely on “henchmen, hangmen and headchoppers” for gas.

Unions which oppose fracking include: Unite, Unison, PCS, Prospect, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), the Universities and Colleges Union.

TUC policy on energy


15 replies »

  1. Unite the UK’s largest union has members in the energy sector and steel industry – including Tata . Unite has over 1 million members and has an anti fracking stance. As do most of the other unions, the other exception exception being the GMB.

    The Community trade union has only circa 27000 members and is actually considered a general union.

    I fail to see how if as per the ASA ruling and Lord John Browne’s statements that fracking will not lower energy costs – how fracking will help to save the steel industry.

    In addition the issues facing the British steel industry are current and a shale gas industry is many years away.

    The steel industry requires government intervention and support. The government needs to tackle cheap Chinese steel being dumped on the market.

    It appears that the shale gas industry is trying to associate itself with an industry that is vitally important to the UK but is not in any position to influence decisions or provide any support. Some will see this as nothing more than a publicity stunt to play on an emotive subject

    I am sure the Labour Party considered matters carefully before announcing they would ban fracking as have the other unions that represent the interests of their members and have opposed fracking. They recognise it is in everyones interest to transition to a carbon zero economy as expeditiously as possible and not tie UK energy into gas.

    • You show your true level of intelligence from the following “I am sure the Labour Party considered matters carefully before announcing they would ban fracking”. Don’t give up the day job!

    • Unite also has members from the finance, government, services, and agriculture industries. So, It is a fairly diverse membership base. All the same, it is less clear that Unite is against fracking. Unite and GMB together were able to defeat a proposal to ban fracking a couple years ago. Also, Unite’s leadership is in agreement with GMB and supports fracking with careful regulation. They haven’t been able to take that position publicly because they don’t yet have membership support to do so. But the tide is clearly changing, and I would imagine that before long Unite will flip flop on the issue and join GMB and Community.

      Extracting gas onshore in the UK will lead to lower prices. This is just a matter of simple economics. When you add supply of a commodity, prices adjust lower. This is especially true in what is in effect a localized market. Thus differentials will widen as more UK supply comes on. And the UK industry could ramp production very fast if given an NSIP designation by the government. So, the economic case for industry is abundantly clear – bring on more natural gas supply to lower costs. Not difficult to understand at all.

      • ‘But the tide is clearly changing, and I would imagine that before long Unite will flip flop on the issue and join GMB and Community.’
        Don’t hold your breath Peeny…..

        • Peeny the policy was agreed back in 2014 so I see no “flip flop” in sight. It is the GMB that has flip flopped – so hopefully they will eventually see the economics of shale don’t stack up and their members will realise fracking jobs will not be sustainable in the longer term.

      • If the Community trade union are worried about jobs they need to act urgently and send a clear message to this Government. The supply chain to the North sea oil and gas industry was worth £35 billion in 2012.
        The Government is killing off this industry by taxing it at around 70%.
        70,000 jobs gone through over taxing. Ridiculous waste.
        Now the Government wants to offer onshore shale gas a 30% tax rate for an industry that cannot meet our base fuel needs and costs a fortune to produce.
        Energy analysts have made it quite clear to the House of Lords Energy Select Committee that if North sea was offered 30% than the North sea would see production rise, and new developments would see the supply chain flourish.
        So, the economic case for our mighty North sea industry is abundantly clear.
        Not difficult to understand at all

        • That’s easy, John. Fracked gas supplies approximately 2/3 of US gas consumption. Rig count has dropped precipitously from highs a few years ago while production has continued to expand and flattened out. This is due to what we call “efficiencies” John. When the quantity of capital and labor employed per unit of output declines, efficiency is the very happy explanation.

          Also, if you had any concept whatsoever of the industry, you would note that rig count is a cyclical measure. If you are the type of fool that would extrapolate a straight line to zero in a cyclical industry, I would happily take the opposite side of any trade you enter, my good friend!

          • hball – Fracking without fracking rigs. Now that is efficient. Presumably you have found a way to stop wells depleting rapidly.

            Personally I would have used the other 1338 rigs made redundant through ‘efficiency’ to produce more cheap gas so you do not import yet another 9.4 million barrels tomorrow, the day after and so on.


            Efficiency graph 3 (easily mistaken for a graph proving that US shale is far more expensive than imported conventional gas)

            • John, seriously, what do you smoke because you clearly operate on a different planet. If conventional gas is more expensive, then it can take share. It’s a market economy here in the States. Do you comprehend how this works?

              Production is what production is, and it is quite strong thank you. The fact that we use less rigs to produce copious amounts of gas is a source of pride in the industry.

              As far as rapid depletion, the more rapid the better. If we could get all of the gas out in a single day it would generate strong returns with much less uncertainty, and allow for rapid reinvestment! Best of luck, you looney toone!

  2. Anna Soubry MP has already admitted that the UK steel industry DOESN’T MAKE the seamless tubes required for fracking wells. Although British Steel firms ARE capable of making the security fences required to keep local environment & livelihood protectors off the HUNDREDS of well, production and waste treatment sites required to make fracking profitable in the UK.

    • Thank you Wandering Dutchman, exactly right. It just shows the hypocrisy of the fracking industry and their supporters. Fracking will not save our steel industry. Let us hope that the GMB realises and advises their members appropriately.

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