May I add one recent truth to Robin Hanbury’s timely letter (March 1).
The UK Government asked the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to review the scientific and engineering evidence to assess whether the risks associated with fracking could be managed effectively in the UK.
Their report confirmed that they could.
In summary their main points were as follows:
HS&E risks can be managed in the UK using operational best practices.
Contamination risk of overlying aquifers is very low as fracturing of the shale gas takes place at depths of ‘many hundred of metres or several kilometres’.
Note by me depths are generally between five and 7.5 miles.
Well integrity – the UK’s unique well examination scheme for every offshore well should be made fit for purpose for onshore activities.
Robust monitoring should be before, during and after shale gas operations.
An Environmental Risk Assessment should be mandatory throughout the lifecycle of the operation up to abandonment of wells.
Seismic risks are low and are ‘likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events’.
Water requirements can be managed sustainably.
Regulation should be fit for purpose.
From my own experience of the UK’s stringent regulations on all offshore operations following the Cullen Report on the Piper Alpha disaster, nothing is left to chance and the buck stops squarely in the operator’s court.