UK 14th onshore licensing round: results and future developments

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Source: DollarPhotoClub

This is a guest post from Charles Maxwell Events. By Josh Potts.

The government’s plans to establish nationwide fracking projects have received a major boost in the last few weeks, as the OGA announced 27 new sites in Great Britain will be open for development. The decision follows the OGA’s 14th licensing round, enticing companies with the prospect of 132 further sites that will likely be certified for drilling later this year.

Anna McMaster, communications manager for Hutton Energy, welcomed the news. “This decision shows that shale gas is a national priority,” she says. “It will provide the confidence required to attract both the companies and investors that are required to fully quantify the shale potential in the UK.”

Hutton acquired four blocks in the latest licensing round, expanding their presence in the East Midlands and further north. She is optimistic about what the new sites represent for her company: “Being offered these licenses is the first step in a long-term process for us. Once we have been formally granted the licenses, we will be able to determine our primary targets and begin making more specific operational plans.”

This ambition coincides with the Conservative government’s commitment to shale energy, one she acknowledges as needing strong public relations to be actualised.

“It is important for local communities to have their say to ensure that safety and environmental standards are being upheld, but we also need planning processes that are timely and efficient,” she says, stressing a clarity of vision on all sides of the fracking debate.

The 27 approved sites hold great symbolic weight for those seeking to capitalise on growing support for fracking across the country. Mark Abbot, managing director of Egdon Resources, shares McMaster’s approval of streamlined bureaucracy for industry advancement: “Ensuring that planning authorities adhere to the statuary timescales will provide more certainty in the timing of decisions for operators.”

He identifies the planning elements of shale gas exploration as its key hold-up, believing that fracking safely, with official environmental support, will prove to the UK public they have nothing to fear. “A number of wells need to be drilled and fracked to determine if technically the UK has the potential for commercial development of shale-gas. The successful and safe operating of a number of fracked wells will also demonstrate that this can be done safely and with minimum impact assisting with gaining public acceptance of the process.”

Egdon has secured blocks in the Gainsborough Trough and Windmerpool Basin, areas that also lie in the East Midlands. Both Egdon and Hutton have additional blocks pending OGA’s review.

Follow the discussion at the European Shale Gas and Oil Summit 2015 –  Machester, 15th – 16th October 2015.

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