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« Carbon conversation | Main | India cracks down on greens »
Wednesday
Jan142015

Scotsman fracking conference

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee are currently hearing from the usual suspects on the subject of unconventional oil and gas. No doubt they will hear that it will be an unmitigated disaster, is wanted by nobody and will never happen anyway. Meanwhile,  Alex Salmond's exit as the leader of the SNP has brought a new leader who is apparently not quite so in thrall to the greens and within weeks of taking over the announcement of a task force to support the oil and gas industry.

It's all nicely poised. And with consummate timing, the Scotsman has organised a conference on the very subject of unconventional hydrocarbons. This move will no doubt infuriate the green fraternity, but it has to be said it's high time the industry started to try to make things happen.

Here are the details.

The announcement by Ineos that it wants to exploit a huge area of shale gas reserves in central Scotland as part of its long-term business strategy has thrust fracking back to the centre of the political debate.

So what is the potential for fracking in Scotland? Can it revolutionise UK manufacturing as Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos claims? Can the public be convinced that the extraction of shale oil and gas from Scotland's Midland Valley and elsewhere can be carried out safely, with no adverse environmental impacts? How significant is the report by University of Glasgow academics that seismic impacts from fracking are far lower than feared and that rules governing its operation are much too restrictive?

The event will look at what is happening in the rest of the UK and ask what next for fracking in Scotland after the July 2014 report by the expert scientific panel on shale gas extraction established by the Scottish Government. The report said there was potential to develop an "unconventional hydrocarbon industry" in Scotland, but highlighted major challenges around planning, licensing, regulation and community consultation.

The event is sponsored by Pinsent Masons and a range of expert speakers will examine the deceptively simple question, "Is Scotland ready for fracking?"

Confirmed Speakers:
Gary Haywood, Chief Executive of Ineos Upstream
Dr Chris Masters, Chairman of the Scottish Government's Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Oil and Gas
Gordon Hughes, Professor of Energy Economics, University of Edinburgh
Dr Jennifer Roberts, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde
Dr Rob Westaway, Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow
Melissa Thompson, Legal Director, Pinsent Masons
Dr Stuart Paton, Exploration & Production Industry Advisor
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive, UKOOG
Peter Jones, Writer and Commentator (Chair)

Details here.

(The organisers have kindly offered me a ticket, so I guess this counts as a sponsored post of a kind.)

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Reader Comments (22)

Money from Big Gas trickles in? ;-)
Sounds interesting but will the BBC report it?

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

If Nicola Sturgeon is more practical on energy then that is a welcome development. Perhaps she could have a word with Leanne Wood in Wales, but no one tell Natalie Bennett!!

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

I attended the previous Scotsman conference on this subject two years ago. It was well balanced and did not pander to the "controversial " meme usually applied to Fracking and unconventional resources..

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddieo

Will anyone be doing any fracking in the short term with oil at $42/barrel? Until oil prices go up again, why spend very much money on unconventional sources?

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

@ trefjon; Sturgeon's got no choice. Salmond was obsessed with renewables and grossly overvalued Scotland's share of North Sea oil income, which is worth now less than 50% of what he thought it was in the first place.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Hydroelectric power and energy intensive industry, have a proven track record in Scotland, dating back 40+ years.

If the SNP can now see through Westminster's green fringe, and realise Scotland' s full potential with fracking, they deserve sucess.

What colour will the Prime Minister's face go? White with fear? Red with embarrassment? Green with sickness? Purple with rage?

Scotland will be selling power to England, not buying it.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Billy Liar: it is what is known as “investment”. A principle that seems to have been forgotten in our “now, now!” world.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

It should NEVER be forgotten that the Green Blob assured everyone that fracking, such a success in the USA, would never have any effect on the price of petrol in the UK.

I am concerned that these assurances, by the Green Blob, may become part of their selective amnesia complex, and a new pseudoscientific conspiracy paper (peer reviews carefully arranged by SKS's crack "tree" house team) about Lewandowski's imaginary neanderthal friend.

Jan 15, 2015 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I think that as time passes, Salmond will increasingly widely be judged very severely indeed for the unhinged promotion of wind farms on his watch. He and his party have brought great distress to Scotland thanks to this. Let us hope that Sturgeon will keep her brain engaged when it comes to fracking.

Jan 15, 2015 at 12:20 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"Andrew Montford paid by BigOil £144 ... (in the form of a free ticket)" the serially deceiving green activists will shout

Jan 15, 2015 at 4:50 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Can the public be convinced that the extraction of shale oil and gas from Scotland's Midland Valley and elsewhere can be carried out safely, with no adverse environmental impacts?

This is the wrong question. Every development comes with some adverse environmental impacts. Wind turbines/farms, solar farms, new roads, new housing etc etc. The question in the planning system is "do the benefits outweigh the adverse impacts?"

In the case of renewable energy developments the Government has tipped the scales (enshrined in policy through the National Planning Policy Framework) so that a trivial benefit outweighs huge adverse impacts. Will this be the case for unconventional oil and gas? I think not.

Jan 15, 2015 at 6:44 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

During this event, which ancient monument in Scotland will WWF or Greenpeace ruin whilst making a protest ?

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

why dont they invite some american geoscientists and engineers who have actually done unconventional exploration and production rather than all the so-called British experts and academics who have never drilled an unconventional well or produced one molecule of unconventional hydrocarbons - is it any wonder the greens have a field day when these so-called experts are the people defending the industry

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdavid jenkins

"This move will no doubt infuriate the green fraternity,"

Perhaps if the are infuriated enough, they will self-combust into a cloud of non-carbon, non-polluting smoke. Then we can recycle the mirrors for more conventional uses.

"The event will look at what is happening in the rest of the UK…"

Why not the rest of the world.

----

The SNP seem obsessed with fish. Salmon(d) and now Sturgeon. Is it always Friday up there?

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

I've noticed a ridiculous backlash against Salmond for not managing to predict an oil price drop that nobody else in the world managed to predict either. There's also a lot of bollox being talked about jobs being lost in oil/gas exploration while completely ignoring that a low oil price should stimulate every other industry and aspect of the economy. Will people ever learn to temper their biases with some reality now and again?

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

> I've noticed a ridiculous backlash against Salmond for not managing to predict
> an oil price drop that nobody else in the world managed to predict either.

James, he is not being condemned because he didn't predict the price drop, but because he was going to my daughters' futures on the fact it would remain high ($110/barrel).

> There's also a lot of bollox being talked about jobs being lost in oil/gas exploration
> while completely ignoring that a low oil price should stimulate every other
> industry and aspect of the economy

Fair enough when oil income is a small % of your economy but when it's 20% every other industry would
have to instantly grow by 25% to compensate, never mind growth.

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

This am we see the Scottish Energy Minister imploring George Osborne to give tax relief to big oil immediately to save jobs in Aberdeen. He even has the gall to suggest that had independence passed, the Scottish Parliament would have been able to react more swiftly than Westminster.
Who will be first to respond with an assessment of what Scotland's oil taxes would produce right now, let alone what they might be after a tax relief sufficient to undo the damage done to the North Sea employment and exploration by the current price.
The lemmings will however still vote SNP it seems at the G.E.

Jan 15, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

The SNP managed to get the Infrastructure Bill to include an exclusion of Scotland for its provisions. Thus they will continue to be governed by existing law. The tension between jobs at INEOS Grangemouth and fracking for gas to supply it will be interesting to watch. Much Scottish unconventional gas is CBM, not shale anyway - and lies at somewhat shallower depths that the Infrastructure Bill was designed to help with. Of course, it was fine for Scottish miners to extract the coal in the past...

Jan 15, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

David Jenkins

A very good question, if you want to understand something then talk to the people that have dirt under their nails and the scars on their backs from mistakes made, not those that theorize about it.

I would suspect it is a case of "turf defense" and opportunistic empire building. I came across many self professed experts in the oil industry that when questioned carefully they were anything but, they were just good salesmen and had learned "the language".

Overall good news but as you suggest leaving themselves open to the inevitable NGO attacks and interminable delays.

Jan 15, 2015 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

I live in Australia and find we are having the same arguments against Fracking.The Green Blob (aka)Shut the Gate argue that the Oil price makes it Impossible for the oil and gas companies to make money Fracking.I also recall when oil was $26 dollars a barrel and the Frackers were happy to Frack at that price,so I say,let them get on with it.If they can't make money at that price,they won't be around for long.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterclive

Mike Singleton,
Thanks - having spent 40 years into the oil and gas exploration business, these would be the last people I would ask for advice from but as you say turf defence

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid jenkins

I watched Sturgeon being interviewed by the BBC about the impact of low oil price on the Scottish oil industry. Unfortunately the interviewer didn't take the opportunity to remind her of the SNP's expectations they'd expressed during the referendum.

Jan 15, 2015 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

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