UKOOG Reaction to Shale Gas Study by Professor David MacKay and Dr Tim Stone
17 September 2013
UKOOG, the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas sector, welcomes the work and report completed by Professor David MacKay, chief scientific advisor at the Department of Energy & Climate Change, and Dr Tim Stone, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State, into the subject of greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas operations.
As the report indicates many of the previous studies in the area have been hampered either by the lack of pre-drill monitoring making it difficult to understand when and how emissions have taken place or by inconsistencies in the geology and regulations that govern operation. However it argues that, adequately regulated, the carbon footprint of shale gas extraction and use will be comparable to gas extracted from conventional sources, lower than Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and significantly lower than coal.
The industry in the UK has already started pilot schemes at some of their sites to study emissions from shale gas operations and therefore welcomes the recommendations on joint industry/Government research projects.
UKOOG is also encouraged that a number of recommendations in the report have been covered by the industry in its agreed best practice guidelines published in February 2013 including:
- The need to monitor before during and after drilling as a matter of standard practice;
- That operators should plan and then implement controls in order to minimise all emissions and that they should be committed to eliminating all unnecessary flaring and venting of gas and to implementing best practices from the early design stages of the development and by endeavouring to improve on these during the subsequent operational phases;
- Emphasis should be placed on “green completions” whereby best practice during the flow-back period is to use a “reduced emissions completion” in which hydrocarbons are separated from the fracturing fluid (and then sold) and the residual flow-back fluid is collected for processing and recycling. However this approach will not always be practicable at the exploration stage.
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG, commented: “This report supports the industry’s assertion that environmental impact of shale gas will be significantly less than that of coal and imported gas. It makes sense from an environmental and economic standpoint to continue to reduce emissions to as low as reasonably possible. I welcome this report which echoes much of what we have already stated in our best practice guidelines.”