Authorities have snuffed out any hope of reviving the UK’s fracking industry, ordering Cuadrilla to plug and abandon the country’s only two horizontal shale wells at its site in Lancashire.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) originally called for the wells to be shut last summer, and has set a deadline of June for work to conclude on scrapping the site.
Industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) has slammed the decision, criticising it as an “abysmal display of contempt” towards the domestic energy industry, and any plans for a “national energy strategy.”
Speaking to City A.M., spokesperson Katherine Gray said: “This isn’t a victory for anyone: we are all going to pay the price for the policy of importing our gas and exporting our emissions to countries like Russia and Qatar.”
The country is currently embroiled in a deepening energy crisis, with household bills set to rise to £2,000 per year, while geopolitical tensions with Russia have raised further concerns about potential supply shortages.
The closure of the two sites follows the government placing a moratorium on fracking three years ago amid safety and environmental concerns – which has left the shale sector in the lurch.
Anti-fracking campaigners such as Greenpeace claim the process, which involves firing high-pressure water to fracture rock and release gas and oil, can cause contamination and earth tremors.
However, Cuadrilla told City A.M. the concerns were overstated and would have been solvable with government support.
The company revealed it would not challenge the order from the Oil & Gas Authority but “it could always intervene to create a different outcome”
In a press statement, chief executive Francis Egan said: “At a time when the UK is spending billions of pounds annually importing gas from all corners of the globe, and gas prices for hard-pressed UK households are rocketing, the UK Government has chosen this moment to ask us to plug and abandon the only two viable shale gas wells in Britain.
Andy Mayer, energy analyst for Institute of Economic Affairs, also criticised the decision, and questioned why the government had seemingly reneged on manifesto commitments.
He said: “Most of the arguments against fracking are excuses for political cowardice, nimbyism and expensive ‘leave it in the ground’ posturing. The 2019 Conservative Manifesto said the party would review the ban purely on safety grounds. Its delay has allowed this closure to go ahead.”It’s time to stop posing and start drilling.”