UKOOG Welcomes Shale Gas Report Recommendations

UKOOG Welcomes Shale Gas Report Recommendations
UKOOG welcomes a new report assessing the impact on local environment and health of shale gas extraction in the UK.

Onshore oil and gas trade body UKOOG said Wednesday that it welcomed a new report from The Task Force on Shale Gas.

The Task Force on Shale Gas – an industry-funded body examining the potential benefits and risks linked to shale gas extraction in the UK – published Wednesday its "Second Interim Report: Assessing the Impact on the Local Environment and Health". Among its recommendations are:

  • Full disclosure by shale gas operators of the chemicals being used in their operations – with Environment Agency monitoring on site to confirm additive levels are within agreed and safe limits.
  • Baseline monitoring of groundwater, air and soil to be established at the moment a potential site is identified, with community representatives given an oversight role in monitoring and all results made public. Current planning regulations that require full planning consent before boreholes can be drilled for monitoring should be changed
  • Operators to commit and be held to the very highest standards in well construction, independently monitored. The Task Force found many of the problems associated with shale gas derived from historical poor practice in the United States, rather than the process of fracking itself. This situation can and must be avoided in the United Kingdom.
  • The process of 'green completions' – whereby fugitive methane emissions are minimized on site – should be mandatory for production wells.
  • The disposal of wastewater by deep injection – which has been associated with earthquakes in the United States – should be avoided in the United Kingdom in line with current Environment Agency practice, particularly where the nature of the geology is unsuitable.
  • A National Advisory Committee should be established to monitor data from shale gas operations if and when they are established in the United Kingdom to provide an independent analysis of actual and potential impacts on public health to both policymakers and the public.
  • Public Health England should commit to reassessing and evaluating its report into the health impacts of shale gas once a statistically significant number of wells have been established and data is available. All results and conclusions must be made public.

Lord Chris Smith, chair of the Task Force on Shale Gas, said in a statement:

"Our conclusion from all the evidence we’ve seen is clear. Only if the drilling is done properly and to the highest standard, and with rigorous regulation and monitoring, can shale gas fracking be done safely for local communities and the environment.

"We highlight four essential ingredients for safe operation: full disclosure of chemicals; baseline monitoring from the outset; strong well integrity, independently regulated; and 'green completions' to contain the gas that’s created and minimize emissions.

"The evidence shows that many of the concerns associated with fracking are the result of poor practice elsewhere in the world, such as poorly constructed wells.

"It is therefore crucial that stringent regulations are established in the UK, as set out in our recommendations, in order to meet these legitimate concerns. We also recommend the formation of a National Advisory Committee to examine, collate and evaluate health impacts associated with shale gas operations once they have begun and data from the first wells becomes available."

In a statement, UKOOG (the UK Onshore Operators Group) pointed out that a number of the recommendations in the report center around practices that are already either commonplace in the sector or which the industry has already committed to. These, it said, include: 3D seismic modeling; full chemical disclosure; the use of green completions at production to reduce fugitive emissions; establishing robust and transparent environmental baselines; and continuing to monitor sites throughout operation and post decommissioning.

UKOOG CEO Ken Cronin commented in a statement:

"I was pleased that the report highlighted a number of areas that we have already considered and have taken action on. The tone of the report is geared towards creating a better understanding of hazard and risk which I think will be invaluable for those coming to this subject for the first time. I was particularly pleased to note that the Task Force is satisfied that the risk levels associated with public health hazards are acceptable provided that the well is properly drilled, protected, monitored and regulated."


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