The Department for Energy (DECC) has set up a new top-level Shale Gas Strategy Group to ensure a ‘proactive and joined-up’ approach to exploration and development of shale gas mining in England and Wales.
Chaired by Duarte Figueira, Head of DECC’s Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO), the purpose of the Shale Gas Strategy Group is to provide co-ordination within and across government (in England).
As well as DECC, the strategy group includes top-level members from the Health and Safety Executive, UK Treasury, the (English) Environment Agency, Public Health England (which has already reported that shale gas mining is ‘safe’) the Department of Agriculture and Food (DEFRA) and a number of planning officials from county councils in England.
The terms of reference for the DECC Shale Gas Strategy Group also include;
Identifying and resolving the key risks and challenges for government and its agencies, including resourcing, timing (and sequencing) and cross government / agency working.
Identifying and co-ordinating communications activities, including likely Ministerial interest and involvement parliamentary scrutiny and media interest.
Developing a joined-up approach to stakeholder management, working together to engage key stakeholders and work with ‘one voice’ to build public confidence.
No similar such group exists in the Scottish Government, albeit that Local Government Minister Derek Mackay yesterday told MSPs on Holyrood’s Energy committee that a special scientific study of unconventional gas mining is presently compiling a technical report on this issue.*
Murdo Fraser, MSP, Tory Energy spokesman and convenor of the parliamentary Energy committee, commented yesterday: “Shale gas has the potential to reduce fuel poverty and create thousands of well-paid jobs”.
In his expert article yesterday’s Scottish Energy News – ‘Shale Gas; An Opportunity (Almost) Lost’ – Steven Ferrigno, Managing Director, EMEA for Allegro Development Corporation, commented:
“With the recent saving of the Ineos facility in Grangemouth, it’s worth remembering that Scotland built the world’s first commercial oil refinery in 1851, driving a global export industry on the back of petroleum extracted from the shale underneath West Lothian.
“At the height of the original UK ‘shale oil boom’ in 1912, Scotland actually accounted for 2% of total world oil production.”
* This report will be published in the Scottish Energy News as soon as it is available.