UKOOG responds to Howarth's atmospheric methane research

14 August 2019

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), said:

"Unfortunately, this paper amounts to erroneous conclusions drawn from unrepresentative small datasets and just 10% of the publicly available literature on the topic.

"The core tenet of the paper is that increases in global methane abundance have primarily been driven by shale gas production, based on the assumption that shale gas is 'biogenic' in nature. Regrettably for its author, academics from Royal Holloway, Cambridge, Bristol and other leading universities recently came to the conclusion that the evidence does not support this theory. Specifically in the case of the UK, they have stated that isotopic analysis of the core samples and gas flow data have confirmed that the resource has a distinct 'thermogenic' character.

"In reality, this failure to accept their conclusions, and recent literature which has shown that increases in atmospheric methane concentration have been primarily driven by biogenic sources, means that the study has disregarded 90% of publicly available literature to come to its conclusion. Had the author concluded that coal methane emissions - which do identify as biogenic in many cases - had driven the increase in global methane abundance, there would have been a better case.

"Ultimately, UK shale has been forecast to have a lifecycle methane emission rate of 0.5%, and a pre-combustion footprint half that of the liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, Russia and the US that we are becoming ever more reliant on. If we do nothing, this trend to import will continue, and by 2035 we'll be procuring nearly 75% of our gas from these higher emission sources. The evidence is clear: if we want to reduce our energy emissions, developing UK onshore shale must be a priority."

Notes to Editors:

Media Contacts

Newgate Communications (Deborah Saw)
Email: ukoog @
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UKOOG (Kate Gray)
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Tel: 020 3397 5632