UK trade body issues first set of guidelines for shale gas exploration
London (Platts)--28Feb2013/802 am EST/1302 GMT
The UK Onshore Operators Group, a trade body representing onshore oil
and gas companies, said Thursday it had issued a first set of guidelines
covering the exploration and appraisal of shale gas in the UK, which includes
a requirement to publicly disclose all chemical additives to fluids used in
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
"We have a strong regulatory environment in the UK, it is therefore
important that the industry adopts the highest possible standards with
respect to well integrity and fracturing operations," UKOOG CEO Ken Cronin
said in a statement.
"The publication of these guidelines demonstrates a commitment to comply
with relevant legislation and best practice," Cronin said.
Critically the guidelines set out that operators must publicly disclose
all chemical additives to fracturing fluids on a well by well basis,
including regulatory authorizations, safety data and maximum concentrations
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These disclosures meet or exceed all known standards in the shale gas
industry, it said.
The UK lifted a moratorium on the use of fracking in shale gas
exploration in December last year.
Fracking for shale gas was halted in May 2011 after early tests by
explorer Cuadrilla Resources in Lancashire, northwest England, were linked to
two small earth tremors.
A long-awaited report on shale gas resources in the northwest of the UK
is due to be published soon by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Recent media reports have suggested there could be anything between
1,300 and 1,700 trillion cubic feet in Cuadrilla's Bowland shale alone, which
would be about 250 times more than previously expected.
UK Energy Minister John Hayes said Thursday that shale gas was an
"exciting opportunity and could contribute significantly to our energy
"It is important that any development is safe and the public must be
reassured that it is safe. I welcome these guidelines, which complement our
robust regulatory system to ensure all operations are carried out to the
highest possible standards and the environment is fully protected," Hayes
The UKOOG guidelines were written by a high-level working group that
included operating and service companies with input from the Department for
Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment
Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
The first issue of the guidelines relate to the exploration and
appraisal phase of shale gas well developments and contain what is considered
to be good industry practice.
References where appropriate are made to relevant legislation, industry
standards and practices including Oil and Gas UK Guidelines, particularly to
the Well Integrity Guidelines issued in July 2012.
UKOOG only appointed its first CEO, Cronin, earlier this month as it
said it was expanding its scope to reflect the increased importance of
onshore oil and gas exploration.
The group, which has been in existence as a trade body since 1996, said
Cronin had extensive experience in the energy industry working with firms
such as IGas, Gazprom and British Energy.
The potential startup of shale gas production in the UK is drawing a lot
of attention to the sector.
There has been onshore oil and gas work in the UK for decades, including
production from western Europe's biggest onshore oil and gas field at Wytch
Farm in Dorset. But offshore production from the North Sea has always been
the source of the biggest volumes and the main focus of attention in the past.
Offshore producers are represented by Oil and Gas UK, which was
previously known as the UK Offshore Operators Association.
--Stuart Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by James Leech, email@example.com