In his response to publication by the UK government of Scotland’s ‘shale gas treasure map’ – the British Geological Survey report showing the areas of substantial locations of shale oil and gas across the Central Belt, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing urged caution.
The Scottish Government is presently balancing on the politico-energy fence in the run-up to the Independence referendum and is not keen to stoke up a head of anti-fracking steam, while also stressing its renewables credentials. Last week, it toughened up the planning rules for fracking by introducing ‘buffer zones’.
Ewing said: “The British Geological Survey report highlights that only relatively modest amounts of shale gas and shale oil are likely to be present in the central belt, only a fraction of which could be realistically recovered.
“We are taking a balanced, evidence-based approach to the development of unconventional gas, and convened an Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Oil and Gas to examine the issue.
“At this time there are no proposals which involve the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques in Scotland, and proposals for coalbed methane or shale gas production will be studied on their merits, and considered through the normal planning process”.
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser, MSP, called for more drilling and testing to establish Scotland’s shale potential.
He said: “If we are sitting on billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas, it’s essential we at least check it out.”