Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics is that “the simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies”. When it comes to the government’s Oil & Gas Authority quango the axiom’s truth is clear. The quango has ordered Cuadrilla to permanently seal the two shale gas wells drilled at the Lancashire shale exploration site, with the result that the 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas located in the northern Bowland Shale gas formation will continue to sit unused – when just 10% of this volume could meet UK gas needs for 50 years. UK imports of Natural Gas are expected to skyrocket to over 80% by 2050.
According to Cuadrilla’s CEO, Francis Egan:
“Cuadrilla has spent hundreds of millions of pounds establishing the viability of the Bowland Shale as a high-quality gas deposit. Shale gas from the North of England has the potential to meet the UK’s energy needs for decades to come, yet ministers have chosen now, at the height of an energy crisis, to take us to this point.
Once these wells are filled with cement and abandoned it will be incredibly costly and difficult to rectify this mistake at the PNR site. Safe shale gas offers us a chance to combat the cost-of living crisis, create 75,000 jobs and deliver on the ‘levelling up agenda’ in Red Wall areas, in addition to reducing our reliance on imported gas so that Britain becomes more energy secure. What’s more ridiculous is that leaving our own shale gas in the ground will make reducing global emissions even harder. Emissions from importing gas are far higher than those from home-produced shale gas. I don’t think that this has been properly thought through.”
Craig Mackinlay, the MP who chairs the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, is livid:
“Following last week’s hike in gas prices, my constituents are concerned about one thing: the cost-of-living crisis. If this government really wants to deliver on the people’s priorities, help them through the crisis and level up it should not be depriving the country of access to cheap and reliable energy sources. Doing this at the height of an energy crisis is utter madness. What’s more, if the Government wants to achieve Net Zero by 2050, this move will make it impossible. It will force us to import more gas instead, when UKOOG and the Climate Change Committee have already told us that the carbon footprint of imported gas is so much higher than homegrown shale gas.
Steve Baker also tells Guido, “By abandoning our shale gas industry, we will inflict more costs on our constituents and make Net Zero even more difficult to deliver given that importing gas is more carbon intensive than producing it at home.” Also given the geo-political situation it is bad from an energy security point of view, see how Putin has Germany over a barrel…
Andy Samuel will be stepping down as CEO of the Oil & Gas Authority in the summer. During his tenure the organisation has become more aligned with the fashionable Net Zero goals of Extinction Rebellion than the needs of Britain’s hard pressed energy consumers facing ever-rising energy bills. Boris and Kwasi need to ensure that the new leadership of this quango is focused on securing cheap energy resources, onshore and offshore, including abundant cheap shale, rather than closing down energy sources.