Britain should reconsider its ban on fracking, MPs urge

Britain should reconsider its ban on fracking and exploit North Sea oil to help end reliance on foreign energy imports, MPs urge

  • MPs and industry leaders demanding Britain exploit its own energy resources
  • Households face paying more than £2,000 per year for energy due to price hike
  • Vladimir Putin has been accused of holding Europe to ransom over the crisis

Britain must exploit its own energy resources to end the nation’s reliance on foreign imports and protect families from blackouts, MPs and industry leaders demanded last night.

Households face paying more than £2,000 per year for their energy due to a massive spike in the price of wholesale gas. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has been accused of holding Europe to ransom over the crisis, demanding approval for a new pipeline in return for an increase in supplies.

As a result, there are fresh calls for the Government to exploit hundreds of oil and gas wells in the North Sea – as well as to revisit the issue of fracking.

Britain must exploit its own energy resources to end the nation’s reliance on foreign imports and protect families from blackouts, MPs and industry leaders demanded last night. Pictured: A drilling platform in the North Sea

There is the equivalent of between ten and 20 billion barrels of oil under the sea, according to Government figures, enough to cover a significant proportion of the UK’s energy needs for two to three decades. Without a fresh drive to exploit the resources, industry groups warn that UK gas production will fall by three-quarters by 2030, putting the nation’s energy security at risk.

MPs have also called for the moratorium on fracking of shale oil and gas in the north of England and Scotland to be lifted.

The Government halted fracking in England at the end of November 2019 after a series of confrontations between shale gas companies and communities, though it has said it could agree to new sites if there was ‘compelling new evidence’ that fracking was safe.

A Tory former energy minister last night led calls for the Government to look again at the issue.

The Government halted fracking in England at the end of November 2019 after a series of confrontations between shale gas companies and communities, though it has said it could agree to new sites if there was ‘compelling new evidence’ that fracking was safe

Sir John Hayes said fracking had ‘insulated’ America and suggested it could do the same for Britain if carried out safely. He told the Mail that while the Government’s ‘enthusiasm’ about renewable energy was ‘laudable’, it was ‘not of itself enough’.

Tory MP Nigel Mills added: ‘We appear to have bet the whole farm on green energy, and overlooked whether it is affordable or offers a secure supply. If Mr Putin turns the volume down, the price goes shooting up and we can’t afford it.

‘Given that we’re clearly going to need gas for heating houses until pretty close to 2050… it would make sense to try and develop the gas resources we have. We may as well be burning our own gas – and have the money and the jobs here.’

Tory ex-Cabinet minister David Davis encouraged ministers to take a ‘rational view’ of the risks of fracking, saying he was in favour of ‘common sense’.

‘The Government is guilty of rushing into things for perfectly decent, green reasons but being over-hasty about it – trying to get press releases and headlines out before COP26 without being imaginative enough,’ he said. ‘There are many possibilities – fracking is one but of course it has its downsides, both real and political – right through to creating a power-generating station in Morocco.’

John Spellar, Labour MP and a former minister, said: ‘I think the Government should look at all ways of ensuring security of fuel and power. As with the coal mining in Cumbria and the oil field off Scotland, we should take an objective view.’

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake said: ‘To me it has never made sense to import stuff that we can produce ourselves, and there’s no doubt that we’ll need gas for at least a decade if not more.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has been accused of holding Europe to ransom over the crisis, demanding approval for a new pipeline in return for an increase in supplies

‘Russia and China have demonstrated that they are quite happy to manipulate the supply of gas to their own ends. If there are new fields that we can open up to decrease our reliance on foreign nations, then we should take advantage of them.’

Mike Tholen, deputy director of Oil and Gas UK, which represents the offshore industry, said: ‘We shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Why should we use other people’s oil and gas when we have our own. It pays taxes and delivers jobs, and helps deliver the skills we’re going to need in our new green economy.’

Industry sources yesterday claimed there are over 300 gas and oil fields in the North Sea that remain untapped.

Major projects yet to be developed include Siccar Point Energy’s Cambo oil field, off the Shetland Islands, Equinor’s Rosebank and BP’s Clair South oil field, which was first discovered in 1977.

It came amidst a wave of anger after regulators blocked plans to develop the Jackdaw gas field, a ‘significant’ well 155 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, over environmental concerns this week.

Tory ex-Cabinet minister David Davis encouraged ministers to take a ‘rational view’ of the risks of fracking, saying he was in favour of ‘common sense’

The field was expected to produce the equivalent of 120 million to 150 million barrels of oil over its lifetime.

Oil and Gas UK said the regulator had raised a red flag over the techniques Shell planned to use, saying they were too carbon intensive.

Experts said many fields had been left untapped because oil and gas prices have been low since 2014, making it difficult to make a profit, especially if new fields are remote.

Last night UK Onshore Oil and Gas said fracking could meet the UK’s gas demand for 50 years by extracting just 10 per cent of gas reserves.

Spokeswoman Katherine Gray said: ‘It is a bizarre state of affairs when just a mile under Northern and central England lies a gas resource so immense that if we extracted just 10per cent of it, we could meet the UK’s gas demand for 50 years.’

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