Fracking evidence supplied to Parliamentary inquiry

In written evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the environmental risks of fracking, experts from the Onshore Energy Services Group concluded that it is poor well construction and inadequate management of fluids at the surface that pose the greatest environmental risk of all, not hydraulic fracturing in
and of itself.


The submitted evidence also highlights that:

• The UK has a strong regulatory regime that safeguards the environment

• Well integrity is essential to prevent the contamination of water sources

• There is a need to conduct robust operational monitoring throughout well operations


Fracking will not impact water quality

On the potential risks to water supplies and water quality, the OESG evidence concludes that a combination of the construction standards employed, the regulations that are in place, and the active monitoring that is carried out, mean that well integrity risks are unlikely to be realised in the UK.

Additionally, the way in which most of us obtain drinking water supplies in the UK – piped to our homes and businesses by utility companies, with only around 1% of drinking water in England and Wales being drawn from private water wells – means the opportunities for drinking water to become contaminated are considerably lower than they are in the USA where private supplies are much more common.

The evidence refers to a number of independent studies conducted by respected academics and institutions, including the Royal Society, Duke University and others, which all conclude a properly regulated shale gas industry can function safely.


Decades of experience say fracking is safe

Richard Sands, business manager at OESG member Moorhouse Petroleum in Yorkshire said: “Between them, members of the OESG have many decades of experience working in the onshore oil and gas industry, both here in the UK and abroad, and the sectors that support it.

“As a result of this experience, we are in no doubt that shale gas can be extracted safely using the technique of hydraulic fracturing, as our written evidence to the Commons environmental audit committee demonstrates.

“We are confident that the existing regulations are adequate, and that they provide all the necessary safeguards.”


Climate impacts of fracking

The OESG evidence also finds that shale gas extraction and use can be compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives. Techniques already exist to reduce fugitive emissions of methane during extraction, and as a substitute for coal, natural gas is a much cleaner burning fuel.

In reaching its climate impact conclusions, the OESG points to comments made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR5 report that states ‘using natural gas (including shale gas produced with low-emissions practices) in modern gas-fired plant would reduce emissions per kWh by half when shifting from the current world-average coal-fired power plant’

All of the evidence submitted to the Environmental Audit Committee has been published online.