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The week ahead: fracking, engineering excellence and a plea for help

Its been a good few days for the shale industry, with the rate of tax on profits slashed to 30 per cent and Cuadrilla’s founder breaking cover to talk to the media.

The chancellor’s decision to reduce the tax rate from 62 per cent is part of a range of measures to designed to give investors the confidence to develop the industry with the intended outcome of putting downward pressure of wholesale prices and increasing energy security.

According to HM Treasury: ‘The economic benefits that shale gas could bring – thousands of jobs, billions of pounds of business investment, and lower energy bills – would extend beyond oil and gas to other manufacturing sectors, which is why major industrial employers have publicly supported its development.’

Speaking in the Sunday Times yesterday, Allan Campbell, CEO of gas recovery company Cuadrilla Resources suggested that the regulatory and planning structures in Britain are not conducive to growing the industry.

He added the industry is being held up by those reluctant to acquaint themselves with the facts about shale extraction.

To counter this, he wants to launch a ‘Big Conversation’ in around 40 towns halls across the UK to put the record straight about shale extraction, allaying fears about the perceived dangers (earthquakes, poisoned water, gas coming out of taps) and possible blights on the countryside.

‘At the moment there is a vacuum of information that is being filled with hyperbole with no foundation in facts. I don’t want everyone to agree, but I want everyone to at least understand,’ he told the paper.

Cuadrilla, like all developers, will put one per cent of revenues from each well back into the communities where extraction takes place.

Campbell added that the burgeoning industry should be seen as the ‘people’s gas’ and that the pre-Autumn statement tax rate of 62 per cent should be used by the Treasury to, for example, develop green technologies.

With tax breaks now strongly favouring the shale developers, its prudent to ask if its the Treasury’s job pump a portion of its 30 per cent into such technologies when private companies stand to make a mint from the ‘people’s gas’.

Campbell is adamant that ‘billions’ will be given away once operations get into full swing.

Is shale, however, the only answer to the UK’s energy woes? This subject will be raised on Wednesday at a conference on the very subject.

The Fracking Question: is shale oil and gas a game-changer for energy security and pricing? takes place in Edinburgh and will look at the current, and potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas on a global scale and how they might affect Britain and Scotland.

The organisers ask: ‘Is modern-day fracking - and its associated processes - just the latest example of an innovative, disruptive technology which tackles severe challenges around energy security and pricing?

‘What might an increase in the extraction of unconventional oil and gas mean for Scotland’s strong focus on renewables and can offshore wind deliver the riches its supporters promise? If so, why is it taking so long for the industry to take off?’ 

Innovators in energy - and indeed a range of disciplines - should be aware that applications are being invited for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award.

Entries are being encouraged from companies, individuals or teams that combine engineering excellence with commercial success and tangible benefit to society.

Entrants should be working in the UK in any area of engineering, science, medicine or technology.

A £50,000 prize awaits the winning entry, which will be revealed at the Royal Academy of Engineering Annual Awards Dinner on 2 July 2014. Applications close 20 January 2014.

From competition to charity and news that employees in a utility, manufacturing, chemical or process organisation are being asked to complete a short survey in exchange for a donation to a children’s hospital charity.

Analytics company SEAMS has launched a campaign for the benefit of children spending Christmas at four children’s hospitals charities across the UK.

They include the Alder Hey Charity, Liverpool; The Children’s Hospital Charity, Sheffield; Birmingham Children’s Hospital; and Grand Appeal, Bristol.

The company says it will donate £10 to one of the children’s hospital charities for every survey completed.

The survey can be found here. Alternatively, contact for an email version.  Surveys can also be completed by phone by calling 0114 280 9000 and asking for the communications team.

Readers' comments (5)

  • It's good to see the government support Fracking. It needs to be firm on this. BBC North West have just spent 7 days doing uninformed vox-pop knocking of fracking, and even when US residents expressed their approval, the BBC response was " but in 5 years they might be saying something else".

    Fracking is not the only answer to our woeful lack of back-up energy, but we need it, along with nuclear, wind etc to keep the lights on and the central heating running.

    Well done for once.

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  • It all very well supporting alternatives energy solutions. But fracking has risks involved, would David Cameron have given the give the go ahead if he was personally accountable and liable for the consequences and cost of his actions, the answer is NO. Its about time all members of parliament where made accountable for there actions, they may then give a lot more though about the consequences of their knee jerk policies, rather than just being able to shrug their shoulders and walk away from anything they do !!!

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  • So where can a lay member of the public go to get an objective history of fracking to date? We need authoritative voices from organisations with no axe to grind: not hysterical box-pops, no; but not a heap of policy-based evidence making from the various layers of government, either. Do you really blame us for being short of faith?

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  • 'personally accountable, liable for the costs and consequences..' ?
    Does Peter actually believe that those who we have elected to make momentous decisions set out to be wrong? Of course not.
    Public Company Directors have a very mild form of correction -shareholders voting with their feet and selling their shares- but usually with contracts that indeed remove any personal involvement or potential loss. But that is about it!
    Be fair, democracy does give us the opportunity to replace politicians who get it wrong: and there are Courts to deal with more lowly offenders. But..'quis custodies custodiartis' who checks the checkers. The meja? and who checks them?

    Each time I see another example of administrative or legal lunacy (and I see many almost every day) I note that none of those groups - Civil servants and lawyers at all levels from small-town solicitors to High Court Judges- are elected to anything, ie are no part of democracy and have cleverly ensured that the pressures and cleansing of capitalism or market forces do not apply to them . Indeed they have been working an even bigger con than the clerics since Medieval times.

    Any chance that the situation will alter? Turkey's do not usually vote for Xmas to be brought forward.

    Mike B

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  • Fracking carries no more risks than any other drilling process. It has been used in the USA more than 40 years. In New Zealand, we have been doing it for the last 10 or more years quite safely. According to our Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment it is quite safe.

    Fracking has been demonised by those who have to make millions of dollars out of the heavily subsidised renewable industry deafness. and, of course, by those who continue to believe that man-made carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming in spite of the fact that the world has not worn for the last 17 years.

    The major climatic risk is that of global cooling. If that happens, we will need all the energy we can get.

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