Recent Hydraulic Fracturing Trends in the United Kingdom

by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Contact

August is known as the “silly season” in the U.K. media. With a large part of the country on vacation, it is a month in which newspapers struggle to fill column inches. Stories emerge that would typically not receive as much prominence at other times of the year.

Politicians are now better at using this void to promote policies. Two stories have recently emerged on hydraulic fracking. Both emanated from the Conservatives (the senior coalition party). One item was the result of news management intended to promote government policies. The other was a blunder.

Shale extraction is less advanced in the United Kingdom than in the United States. As the British are now discovering, development of shale requires hydraulic fracturing of source rock (or “fracking”). On a densely-populated island that is largely unused to either conventional or unconventional production, government recognises the need to address concerns arising from this process. This task is made more difficult by a system of petroleum regulation which does not reward landowners. Government (not private citizens) controls - and benefits from - the right to extract oil and gas under both public and private land. Recent government policy, however, now offers financial rewards for local communities where fracking takes place.

Let’s start with the blunder. In a parliamentary debate, Lord Howell (a former Conservative energy minister) suggested that there are “large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the North-East, where there is plenty of room for fracking.”

An outcry followed. An apology was quickly issued. The political damage was compounded by an acknowledgement that his lordship, in fact, intended to refer to the Northwest (not Northeast) of England. This correction served only to redirect the remark to a different part of the country.

Ten days later, the government media machine went into action in an attempt to reverse the damage. David Cameron, the British prime minister, set out to sell fracking to the public. It was a debate, the prime minister said, that he was determined to win. Many environmental myths had sprung up. However, the United Kingdom’s supplies of shale gas had the potential to create jobs, drive down both gas and electricity prices and supply the country’s energy needs for more than 50 years. Furthermore, according to the british prime minister, international evidence did not show that the process (if properly regulated) contaminated water supplies or caused environmental damage.

Those arguments have already been well rehearsed, but the prime minister did not stop there. More eye-catching was the government’s promise to pay £100,000 (about $155,000) to communities situated near exploratory wells, along with 1 percent of production revenues. Communities can use this money to reduce local property taxes or invest in neighbourhood projects such as schools.

This intervention by the prime minister significantly raises the stakes on the fracking debate in the United Kingdom. A recent survey by the British Geological Society reports 1300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in northern England alone. This doubles the amount previously estimated. Notwithstanding injudicious remarks by its own side, the government now seems determined to influence public opinion on this issue.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Contact
more
less

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!