The UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG) has welcomed a "helpful" regulatory roadmap for the onshore production of shale gas and oil, which was released by the UK government Tuesday.
The Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) report (produced for the government by engineering consultant AMEC) sets out the potential economic and environmental effects of further oil and gas activity in Great Britain – including shale oil and gas production.
The government said the assessment was carried out in preparation for the launch of the next round of licenses being made available for onshore oil and gas exploration and production. A consultation will now run until March to consider the findings of the SEA report and how this affects shale gas production in the UK.
UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:
"There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place. Today marks the next step in unlocking the potential of shale gas in our energy mix.
"It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security.
"But we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment, with robust regulation in place."
In a separate statement, UKOOG Chief Executive Ken Cronin commented:
"Having the regulatory process written in one place is extremely helpful and underlines the extensive nature of regulation of oil and gas exploration in this country, which is among the most comprehensive in the world. We welcome the opportunity to consult on the government's future plans for shale gas and to detail how the UK's potentially exciting resources of shale gas can be harnessed for the benefit of the country with the minimum of impact on the environment and local communities.
"The Strategic Environmental Assessment gives a broad range of scenarios which show how shale gas can have a positive impact for UK economy through increased employment and direct benefits for the local communities as well as pointing out how shale gas can bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the issues raised in the SEA relating to water usage and wastewater are being addressed through the onshore oil and gas industry's work with bodies such as Water UK."
A "high-activity" scenario in the SEA report envisages a substantial amount of shale gas being produced (between 4.3 and 8.6 trillion cubic feet) in the 2020s. Under this scenario there would be beneficial impacts to the economy, jobs and communities, with employment in the oil and gas industry boosted by seven percent and adding 16,000 – 32,000 full-time jobs.
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