“We’ll find more (offshore) N. Sea gas to stop pressure for on-shore fracking”, vows Scottish Energy Minister

One of the reasons for commercial interest in (at least) exploring for onshore oil and gas in Scotland – using the fracking technique – is because the North Sea can no longer supply enough to ‘natural’ gas to meet demand for home-heating (or a range of everyday household products).

This fact was almost entirely overlooked in the Scot-Govt. public consultation on onshore oil and gas exploration – which was polluted by co-ordinated ‘syndicated responses’ organised by lobby groups opposed to fracking.

Quoting the un-sound results of this hijacked consultation as justification, the Scot-Govt last month imposed a non-statutory moratorium on planning applications for onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland.

However, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has – at last – publicly acknowledged the rationale from exploration companies to carry out explorative onshore and oil and gas drilling in a move which may yet trigger a judicial review case in the supreme court.

When asked by a Scottish parliament-focused monthly periodical if it was ‘hypocritical for Scotland to use shale imported from the US <as INEOS does with a fortnightly tanker-load from the USA> while boasting of our environmental commitment by refusing to drill for the stuff here?’ Wheelhouse said:

“Where ethane is sourced from is of interest to us, but it’s largely driven by commercial decisions.

“What I would say to those who are critical of our decision is that, within our <Scottish> National Performance Framework, we take account of our carbon footprint, which includes all the emissions globally which are associated with products and services we consume, as well as looking at our production emissions, which are the ones we produce in Scotland alone.

“It is an issue for us if we are consuming a product that is creating more emissions elsewhere, but I believe there are opportunities in the North Sea to find more ethane.

“Who knows what gas discoveries will come west of Shetland or in other areas that may yield more ethane. But ultimately, the sourcing of those feedstock products, such as ethane, is a matter for [the] companies concerned.”

So the Scottish Government wouldn’t restrict companies from using fracked gas even if it could?

Paul Wheelhouse, MSP
Paul Wheelhouse, MSP

Wheelhouse added: “Well, first of all, we don’t have the power to do that if we wanted to. But we wouldn’t unless we had some compelling reason to do so.

“I am the energy minister for Scotland and the planning minister is only the planning minister for Scotland – we have to rely on other administrations to safely regulate industries where they are happening.

“Whether it is Pennsylvania or somewhere else, it is for regulators in that part of the world to make sure that the supplies of ethane are produced safely.”

12 Dec 2017

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