EnergyFactor By ExxonMobil | Pespectives has a new home

Relying on sound science in the United Kingdom

Most of the reports about the British government’s decision to rescind its moratorium on exploratory hydraulic fracturing have focused on the economic and environmental advantages of going forward with energy production from shale.

Many have quoted Prime Minister David Cameron, who said, “America’s success in unconventional gas is giving them low energy costs and cutting their carbon at the same time.”

The prime minister also expressed hope that the United Kingdom not miss out on the opportunities – including jobs, economic activity and increased government revenues – currently transforming the U.S. economy.

While these apparent benefits are indeed considerable, it’s important to note an equally important factor that weighed in the government’s decision: the science that convinced authorities that hydraulic fracturing could be done safely and responsibly in the United Kingdom – just like it is in the United States.

Considerations of public safety

In announcing the decision to permit a British company to resume hydraulic fracturing efforts ordered suspended 18 months ago, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said, “My decision is based on the evidence. It comes after detailed study of the latest scientific research available and advice from leading experts in the field.”

That sounds spot-on to me. There’s no question that the consideration of sound science and public safety must be at the center of any discussion on energy policy and energy development. Hopefully British regulators will keep such considerations front of mind and adopt practicable, workable rules that will permit responsible development to proceed.

Lending our expertise

Making his announcement, Mr. Davey explained, “Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident it’s safe.”

We wholeheartedly share both concerns.

That’s why, as a leader in the field of unconventional resource development, we have been pleased to share our experience and knowledge with authorities in the UK and across Europe on best practices concerning shale energy development.

The British government’s appeal to sound science in lifting its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing should help allay public concerns about unconventional oil and gas production.

At the same time it could help the United Kingdom move forward with the techniques for producing energy supplies safely and responsibly – the same ones that are having an overwhelmingly positive effect across the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Worth a deeper look...