Holyrood under pressure over oil and fracking
Scottish ministers are coming under more pressure to re-assess their ban on fracking and opposition to more oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
The UK government has today confirmed its support for about 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, expected to be launched by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) in early October. It also lifted the moratorium on shale gas production in England.
These oil and gas licences will enable developers to search for commercially viable oil and gas sources to help secure long term energy supplies and reduce dependency on imports. The Prime Minister Liz Truss last week announced that she wants the UK to be a net energy exporter by 2040.
Developers will still need to seek regulatory approval for any activities conducted within their licensed area, such as drilling or construction of infrastructure.
The UK Government is today formally lifting the pause on shale gas extraction in England and will consider future applications for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent with the domestic and global need for gas in mind and where there is local support.
In Scotland, the issuing of licences for shale gas extraction is a matter for the Scottish Government which has repeated its opposition to the process.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:“The Prime Minister is moving swiftly to ensure the security of our energy supply and exploring the further potential of the North Sea is crucial to this.
“This new round of oil and gas licensing, which is expected to lead to more than 100 new licences, will not only safeguard our domestic supply and protect UK households, businesses and public services from volatile global prices, it will also support more than 70,000 energy sector jobs in Scotland.
“Supporting this sector has always been a vital part of our net zero strategy, ensuring we have energy resilience while investing in renewable sources such as wind, tidal and solar power.”
Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg added: “In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and – as the Prime Minister said – we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.
“To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production – so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.”
One of the biggest trade unions has added its support to more testing of fracking.
“If it can be shown to be safe for workers and communities, fracking offers part of the solution to the energy crisis, said the GMB.
It said the process has the potential to create thousands of jobs and end the UK’s reliance on imported energy – which includes fracked gas from the US.
In 2021, the UK imported 7.5% of its gas from America, almost all of which was fracked gas. Some comes up the Forth to serve the Ineos plant at Grangemouth.
Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: “Lifting the fracking ban could create thousands of good jobs and end the UK’s gross hypocrisy of happily using shale gas as long as it was fracked in another country.
“GMB believes we must move towards energy self-sufficiency, particularly in light of global instability after the invasion of Ukraine.
“We already have an energy crisis caused by years of Government inaction, with gas storage shut down and all but one of our nuclear plants due to close within the next decade.
“If it can be shown to be safe for workers and communities, fracking offers part of the solution to the energy crisis.
“We should take this opportunity to build an industry that creates good, unionised jobs whilst investing profits in long term carbon neutral solutions we need to hit net zero.”