Open letter regarding Balcombe
16 August 2013
The temporary suspension of operations in Balcombe by Cuadrilla due to the actions of certain groups of protesters is something that should concern all those who believe in the democratic process and the rule of law.
As an industry, we are well aware of the current debate surrounding shale and onshore gas extraction. It is right that we can hold a democratic debate in this country without fear. It is right that people are free to protest in a peaceful fashion. We cannot, however, allow single issue pressure groups to subvert the rule of law and prevent Cuadrilla’s workers from carrying out their lawful operations, as well as having the safety of the company’s staff and Balcombe’s residents compromised.
The UK has benefited from having an onshore oil and gas industry for over a century. Over 2,000 wells have been drilled – many of them hydraulically fractured – and over 300 are currently operational.
Several thousand families in the UK already rely on the onshore oil and gas industry for their income. Cuadrilla – and the wider onshore gas industry – complies with all legal and regulatory channels with regards to its operations. The industry has successfully operated in compliance with environmental legislation in this country, which among the strictest in the world, for many years to ensure that risks will be mitigated and we will continue to do so. Every member of UKOOG abides by the shale well guidelines which are highlighted on our website for all to see. The exploratory well at Balcombe – which by the way is a conventional oil exploration site, not a shale gas site - is a continuation of that tradition.
As we begin the exploration for oil and gas from previously undeveloped sources, we will work with local communities to ensure that they understand what we are doing, how we are doing it and the steps we will take to mitigate concerns around safety, noise, dust, truck movements and other environmental issues.
We welcome an open and honest dialogue with local communities and the wider public. However, it is not right that the onshore oil and gas industry has to deal with threats of direct action, intimidation and “mass civil disobedience” against our staff and property, which prevent us carrying out our lawful operations.
CEO, UK Onshore Operators Group