An energy minister has rejected industry suggestions that it can produce fracked gas within 18 months.
Lord Callanan, speaking yesterday in parliament, described fracking as:
“quite a disruptive process and can take quite a long time”.
He was responding to comments by the Conservative peer, Baroness Foster of Oxton, a former MEP.
She suggested that shale gas could “come on stream as soon as 18 months’ to two years’ time”- an estimate made earlier this month by IGas.
She urged the government to “crack on” with shale gas development so that the UK could become “energy self-sufficient as soon as possible”.
Lord Callanan replied:
“I think my noble friend is wrong in thinking that we could get large amounts of fracking on stream within 18 months.
“So far, we have had maybe two wells; to get significant amounts of fracked gas you would need many hundreds if not thousands of such wells.”
“The development of shale gas must be safe and cause minimum disruption and damage to those living and working near sites and that is not a new position”.
Earlier this month, the government ordered a scientific review of the impact of fracking. This followed industry and political pressure to lift the moratorium on fracking in England.
Lord Callanan said
“We will be guided by the science and will look again to see whether it is possible to do it, with the consent of local communities”.
Baroness Blake, Labour’s energy spokesperson in the Lords, said the government’s energy security strategy, published before Easter, had “missed another opportunity to close the door to fracking”.
The Green Party peer, Baroness Jones, described fracking as “a ridiculously expensive and disruptive process”.
Lord Callanan argued against an immediate end to domestic oil and gas developments. It would make the UK more reliant on foreign imports and would not lead to greater global decarbonisation, he said:
“In carbon footprint and security terms, it makes eminent good sense to source these from the North Sea.”
But the Lib Dem energy spokesperson, Lord Oates, urged the government to think about the “danger of stranded assets” of any new oil and gas exploration. “This is a dangerous thing”, he said.