Water UK, which represents the water industry, and the UK Onshore Operators Group, the onshore oil and gas industry’s representative body, are to work together to help minimise the impact of onshore oil and gas development in the UK on the country’s water resources.
Water UK and UKOOG today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which ensures their respective members will cooperate throughout the shale gas exploration and extraction process.
A key aim of the agreement is to give the public greater confidence and reassurance that everything will be done to minimise the effects on water resources and the environment.
Water UK (which also, in this instance, includes, and speaks for, Scottish Water) has reviewed recent reports into shale gas extraction, and believes that while there are potential risks to water and wastewater services, these can be mitigated given proper enforcement of the regulatory framework.
UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon, MP, said: “Water UK’s conclusions are encouraging, confirming that shale gas production will not put undue pressure on water supplies, and that risks to water supplies can be managed through current regulations.”
UKOOG is the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry including exploration, production and storage. Under the MoU, members of UKOOG and Water UK will work together to identify and resolve risks around water or waste water including:
- Baseline monitoring requirements to assess impacts of onshore oil and gas development on the quality and quantity of local water resources;
- Plans relating to site water management, especially water reuse, to improve understanding of local impacts;
- Onshore oil and gas company development plans, including scenarios for expansion of exploration and development within a local area and what this means for short and long-term demand for water at specific locations;
- The expected volumes and chemical and biological composition of waste water as well as preferred disposal routes.
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive, UKOOG, said: “This agreement with Water UK should give reassurance to local communities that the development of shale gas in the UK can proceed with minimal impact upon the local water and waste services.
“The environmental regulation covering the onshore oil and gas industry in the UK is among the most stringent in the world and, in addition, the industry has agreed to tough and transparent guidelines on how we operate and interact with local communities.”
Pamela Taylor, Chief Executive, Water UK, said: “Our members are determined to ensure any potential risks of shale gas extraction are minimised. The MoU gives water companies a crucial extra layer of safeguards on top of the existing regulations to help ensure water supplies and the environment are protected.”