Labour step up pressure on Scot-Govt for permanent ban on fracking as INEOS say fears over Brexit are changing public views over onshore oil and gas

Tom Pickering
Tom Pickering

The Labour Party yesterday demanded a Scot-Govt ministerial announcement about the future of the onshore oil and gas industry in Scotland.

The party’s Scottish branch want the current ‘temporary’ ban – imposed by the minority SNP-led Scot-Govt in January 2015 to outlaw the hydraulic fracturing exploration technique (aka ‘fracking’) – to be made permanent.

An MSP for the Scottish Green party told a weekly newspaper published last week in Glasgow that the Scot-Govt is ‘this week’** due to ‘announce a permanent ban’ on exploring for onshore oil and gas– despite two independent scientific reports concluding that shale gas drilling can be carried out safely within the current regulations.

The Labour party also supports a permanent ban and yesterday – in the absence of any comment and/or confirmation from the Scot-Govt about onshore oil and gas – re-iterated its demand in a letter to the Scottish Energy Minister from Claudia Beamish, MSP, the party’s Scottish environment spokesman.

Meanwhile, local community opposition to fracking has softened because of concerns linked to Brexit, according to Tom Pickering, operations director at INEOS’ shale unit

INEOS – which owns the Grangemouth petro-chems refinery and is one of the top ten N. Sea oil and gas operators – wants to drill for onshore shale gas in 280 sq. miles of ground across the Central Belt for which it has obtained Brit-govt exploration licences.

Ineos imports shale gas by the supertanker-load every fortnight from the US for treatment at its Grangemouth plant, Scotland’s largest industrial site. But the firm has said it would make more economic sense for Scotland to be extracting gas locally in the Central Belt.

Pickering said: “I have seen a shift in the tone after the Brexit vote. People are saying that ‘you just need to be getting on with this. We want you to do it properly, but this stuff matters now’.

“People understand that when you present the figure to them that over 50 per cent of our gas is being imported that is a cheque we are writing out every day to another nation.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) explained: “Today 50% of our gas comes from outside the UK – a significant turnaround from 17 years ago when we were a gas exporter.

“This is set to rise to 80% in the next 17 years and has massive implications – both economically and environmentally. I strongly believe that onshore exploration and production provides a significant economic opportunity for Scotland.

“The Committee on Climate Change has confirmed that widespread shale gas production is compatible with these carbon budgets as long as certain conditions are met and the onshore industry has committed itself to meeting those conditions.

“And all of the extensive research the Scottish Government has commissioned states that with appropriate regulatory oversight and monitoring Scotland’s regulatory framework was sufficiently robust to manage onshore exploration and production.

“Excluding onshore gas from Scotland from the future energy mix is short-sighted and dogmatic. There isn’t any reason to justify continuing with the moratorium which has been in place since January 2015.”

When he released the results of the second independent scientific review last year into onshore oil and gas exploration, the Scottish Energy Minister said any final decision on shale gas exploration would be subject to a vote in parliament.


See also: Scottish Energy News 20 Sept 2017

INEOS chief rules out building new £650 million car factory – with creation of 10,000 new Scots jobs – at Grangemouth refinery in fracking stand-off with Scot-Govt


Fibbing by Friends of Earth with false fracking claims will make Scot-Govt’s final public consultation on shale gas worthless


3 Oct 2017

Just 10 weeks ago (on 7 July 2017) the Scottish edition of the London Times published an article headlined: Final decision on fracking years away” …

London Times Scottish fracking decision years away Jul 2017
London Times’ Scottish edition


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