UK Fracking Rules 'Unworkable': Ineos
Would-be UK shale gas producer Ineos has joined Cuadrilla in calling on the government to relax the traffic light rules governing shale gas exploration onshore.
The present level at which fracking must legally stop is only 0.5 on the Richter scale, leading to constant stops and starts and delaying gas production.
Unless it backtracks, Ineos said February 4, the government will do "irreparable damage to the UK’s manufacturing base." CEO Jim Ratcliff said the government’s position was “unworkable, unhelpful and playing politics with the country’s future.”
Ineos, which has had to use the legal system in order to clear its land of protesters and to gain vehicular access to its site, said it would be more honest for the government to close the industry down than to "use politically expedient, slippery back door manoeuvres to end shale. British companies have been working in good faith to develop an onshore gas industry in the UK. There are indications that there may be enough gas to make the UK self sufficient in energy for a generation and stimulate huge investment in manufacturing as has been the case in the US."
It said that the the thresholds for shale were 180,000 times lower than the US where 1mn wells have been safely drilled. "Planning policy remains archaic, glacially slow, inordinately expensive and virtually unworkable. Ineos believes the UK energy policy is non-existent and will do irreparable damage to the UK’s remaining manufacturing base."
Ratcliff said: "The availability of clean and abundant gas has rejuvenated the energy intensive manufacturing base of North America with hundreds of billions of new investment in chemicals, steel, glass and aluminium leading to the creation of millions of new jobs.
"The UK, by contrast, has no coherent energy policy. The announcement by Hitachi of their withdrawal from the Wylfa nuclear investment in North Wales, hot on the heels of a similar announcement from Toshiba leaves the entire UK nuclear policy as the EDF plant at Hinckley Point, an investment that is hugely over budget, way behind schedule and will produce electricity from an unproven technology at a totally uncompetitive price.
"The UK electricity supply is completely dependent upon gas and nuclear. In addition, 85% of UK homes and most of UK industry needs gas for heat. The UK has no nuclear strategy despite closure notices on 8 of its 9 nuclear plants. Gas from the North Sea, which peaked in 2000, has long since been in decline.
"The government is shutting down shale by the backdoor and is betting the future of our manufacturing industry on windmills and imported gas from countries which are potentially unstable.
The traffic light system was meant to be cautious and was always intended to be reviewed as experience developed. According to UK Onshore Oil & Gas, "In the last 100 days there have been 88 seismic events recorded by the British Geological Survey in the UK, yet none of the Lancashire events featured in the top ten and only 1 in the top 25. None of these seismic events recorded caused harm to people or buildings.
“Against a backdrop of nearly 75% of our gas being imported within the next 16 years, increasingly from countries that have both work and environmental regulations significantly below our standards, there is a moral, economic and environmental imperative to be looking at our onshore oil and gas resource," it said.