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

News editor

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.