The industry organisation, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, has urged the Scottish government to lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
UKOOG said unconventional oil and gas exploration could bring “significant economic benefit” to Scotland. It predicted the industry could create up to 3,100 jobs, spend up to £6.5bn and generate £4bn in tax receipts.
But the organisation acknowledged the debate over fracking was “deeply polarised” and work was needed to ensure communities in shale areas in the central region of Scotland had what it called “proper information”.
Friends of the Earth Scotland described UKOOG’s comments as a “half-hearted rehash of previous propaganda” and said it suggested the industry had finally realised how “terribly unpopular fracking would be in Scotland.”
UKOOG was responding yesterday (10 May 2017) to the Scottish Government’s consultation on unconventional gas and oil, which closes at the end of this month, and research published in November last year.
Findings of that research included:
- Evidence of cancer-causing crystalline silica used in fracking posed a risk to workers
- Fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with Scottish climate change targets unless three tests are met
- Unconventional oil and gas could represent 0.1% of the Scottish GDP (central estimate)
- Each shale gas well pad could require 13,000-93,000 vehicle movements over 20 years
- The risk of induced earthquakes in the shale areas of central Scotland are low
- There is a gap in regulations requiring long-term mechanism and responsibility for wells
“Moratorium not justified”
Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said:
“Many of the wilder claims about health and environmental impacts have been thoroughly debunked by the Scottish Government’s own research and we do not believe that the outcomes of this extensive research give any reason to justify continuing the moratorium on onshore oil and gas extraction.
“We strongly believe that there is a significant economic opportunity for Scotland but we recognise that as a result of a deeply polarised debate and an extremely unfair depiction by some of the onshore oil and gas industry there is still much to do to ensure local communities within the central shale belt have proper information.
“Our conviction that a moratorium is no longer justified is underlined by the fact 30 wells have been drilled in the last 20 years and gas has been produced in the central belt of Scotland. This has happened without incident – to the environment or to public health.”
UKOOG called for the introduction of a regulatory forum to address issues identified in the Scottish Government’s research.
“The Industry and the Government need to agree a way forward for exploration, including how local communities can participate and benefit and how structures can be put in place to create funds that can be allocated through the proceeds of the onshore oil and gas industry towards research and development of renewable technologies.”
UKOOG said it believed regulation was competent to deal with the safe roll out of a shale industry in Scotland. But it added:
“Given the clear need to continue to build public confidence the industry is fully committed to being a partner with the Scottish government and would be keen to share with the Scottish Government the early stage findings from activities in England which would act as a complement to the analysis already completed by the Scottish researchers.”
The Scottish Government is expected to make a decision this year on the moratorium. UKOOG said it needed to consider the following:
- In 20 years the UK wil import 75% of gas, costing the equivalent of more than £300 per household
- Tax revenue and community benefit generated by exploitation of Scottish shale could equal council tax paid in Stirling, Falkirk and Fife – or 2% of Scottish income tax
- There is no viable or affordable alternative to gas to heat homes or supply industry with heat or feedstocks
- 78% of domestic heating in Scotland is by gas and 43% of gas consumption is by industry
In response to UKOOG’s comments, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“The industry continues to peddle wild jobs’ figures for fracking although they’ve already scaled back from the high point of Ineos’ 10,000 jobs claim.
“The Scottish Government’s own external research showed a most-likely maximum of only 1,400 jobs even if you made very optimistic assumptions about how much gas might be produced and ignored the jobs that could be lost in tourism and farming, and the impact on people’s house prices.
“If we let them, the frackers would drill for 40 years to extract only a maximum of 5 years’ worth of gas. For at best a tiny economic boost the risks to people’s health, local economies and climate change targets can’t possibly be worth it.
“The industry whinge on about gas but ignore the strong targets Scotland has to get away from all fossil fuels in both electricity and heating.
“One of the most remarkable things during this consultation has been how little effort the industry has made. No public meetings, no newspaper ads, no charm offensive. This half-hearted rehash of previous propaganda suggests the industry has finally realised how terribly unpopular fracking would be in Scotland.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland is expecting to submit its pwn response to the Scottish government consultation later this month.
UKOOG website Gas4Scotland