Fracking hell: new report ignites energy debate

Posted on 01/07/2014 by


 ‘No place for fracking in Scotland’s energy future’ – Patrick Harvie

frackScotland is sitting on enough shale oil and gas to meet our energy needs for the next half-century, according to a new report by the British Geological Survey – but environmentalists are warning that ‘fracking’ to get at shale gas deposits would have serious consequences for local communities.

The British Geological Survey’s report of the resources in the Midland Valley, Scotland, suggests a ‘modest’ amount of gas and oil in place. The central estimate of shale gas in place is 80 trillion cubic feet, the central estimate for shale oil in place is 6 billion barrels of oil.

However ‘modest’, the Department of Energy and Climate Change believes ‘ the complex geology of the area and historic mine workings means that exploratory drilling and testing is even more important to determine how much can be recovered.’

Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is crucial to keep job and business opportunities, widen tax revenues and reduce our reliance on foreign imports.

“We know that shale gas alone won’t be able to supply all of our energy needs, but the environmentally responsible exploration of shale gas could contribute to our energy mix.

“Only the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom can attract investment in new energy sources and maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s great energy hubs – generating energy and generating jobs.

“The UK’s energy security is among the best in the world, backed by a large consumer and tax base that can afford to support our world-leading energy industries and make us such an attractive place to invest.”

Professor Mike Stephenson, Director of Science and Technology at the British Geological Survey said: “The central estimate of shale gas in place is 80 trillion cubic feet and the central estimate for shale oil in place is 6 billion barrels of oil but reserves cannot be calculated at this stage before drilling and testing take place. The Midland Valley of Scotland has complex geology and a relative lack of data compared to the previous DECC-BGS Bowland-Hodder and Weald Basin studies”

However Green MSP Patrick Harvie says the study by the British Geological Survey shows that ‘potentially modest’ reserves of shale oil and gas prove that  fracking shouldn’t figure in Scotland’s energy future.

He pointed out that the estimated 80 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in central Scotland is just six per cent of the reserves thought to be present in northern England and said a huge swathe of Scotland – from Argyll to Aberdeenshire and from Ayrshire to East Lothian – has been earmarked as ‘ripe for fracking’ by the UK Government.

Mr Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said: “This study puts paid to all the hype we’ve been fed about a shale bonanza. Not only would fracking divert attention from our undoubted renewables potential but any economically viable extraction would be modest and short-term. Greens want a long-term energy plan for Scotland, and we have abundant clean sources to do this.

“As communities across Scotland realise the risk to their local environments from the prospect of fracking, and as climate science tells us we must start to leave unburnt fossil fuels in the ground, it’s clear that any such developments will face strong opposition.

“It all serves as a reminder that Westminster controls energy policy in Scotland. The chance to pursue clean, long-lasting power rather than polluting, finite fuels is a compelling reason to vote Yes in September.”