Fracking for shale gas in the North East would be good for the area and is nothing to be afraid of; the chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), Ken Cronin, told business people at a meeting in Darlington.
During the ‘To frack or not to frack’ debate, hosted by the Federation of Small Business (FSB), Mr Cronin told those attending that the UK faced a major opportunity and not an environmental threat, likening the process to ‘keyhhole surgery’ and insisting that it is safe.
“People talk about the energy ‘trilemma’ which is about keeping our energy supply, lowering emissions and reducing costs. We have to crack all three to get an energy system for the future.” he told the group.
“We have here another opportunity for decades worth of shale gas under our feet. Shale gas is no different from North Sea gas, it all comes from the same geology, and it’s nothing to be scared of.”
Acknowledging the fact that opinion on shale gas exploration is divided, he went on to add “We do have a need for renewables, that goes without question. This country is currently suffering because we have a polarised debate about fossil fuels versus renewables. You will never hear me or anyone in my industry question the need for other technologies.”
“Having spent time in a number of energy fields I know it’s a fact of life that people will protest, and that even goes for other large infrastructure projects like airport expansion and HS2 for example. The reality is that we need all forms of energy to meet the needs of the trilemma.”
“I was very pleased to see Baroness Worthington – a well known environmental campaigner for Friends of the Earth – call for cool heads when it comes to talking about fracking. Even if we had a totally decarbonised renewable energy electricity system, we’re still going to need huge amounts of gas.”
Held by the FSB and chaired by Allen Creedy, honorary Chair of the Energy, Water and Environment Policy Unit for the FSB, the event aimed to provide those attending the chance to ask questions and debate issues surrounding the industry.
Speaking about the event, Mr Creedy said “This is the first debate for small businesses in the north east on fracking – it’s their chance to learn more about the potential economic benefits of unconventional gas, debate the environmental issues, and hopefully at the end dispel the myths.”
During the event, Mr Creedy also acknowledged the divided opinions on whether fracking should take place in the UK or not, saying “Unconventional gas could improve our energy security, it could replace imported gas, it could cause environmental damage, it could adversely impact on members businesses, it could reduce gas prices. But on all of those ‘coulds’ more evidence is needed.”
He went on to add “The FSB is very clear that decisions on horizontal fracking must be taken by local people and local businesses, and based on evidence.”
“We know that large scale and widespread horizontal fracking is some years away. But the cost of energy now is a make or break issue for many small firms, and – if shown to be safe and economically viable – unconventional gas could help to keep prices down and businesses competitive.”
The debate follows the recent announcement by The Oil and Gas Authority that a number of locations across England have been identified as potential sites for fracking, two of which are in Middlesbrough in the north east of England.
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