Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water and chemicals into wells at high pressure to open up seams, is currently under scrutiny in the European Union, which last year published studies concluding it can lead to groundwater contamination.
Earlier this year, the EU’s energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that an EU move to support shale gas development on economic grounds must be accompanied by tough environmental standards.
He told German newspaper Die Welt the EU would look at the issue in more detail later this year but ‘the protection of areas where drinking water and groundwater occurs … is absolutely correct’.
UKOOG chief executive Ken Cronin said the group would start the process of searching for an agency to handle the project ‘very shortly’.
The project is separate to the group’s UK comms and public affairs brief, which has been handled by Newgate for the past six months.
Cronin added the group may add to its two-strong in-house team in the next few months in order to manage the process of engaging communities in discussions about proposed incentives for granting drilling permits.
‘We announced before the summer that we had put together a package of community benefits and community engagement worth more than £1bn over the course of a 25-year period, which is roughly about £10m per shale site,’ Cronin said.
‘What we now need to do is put more meat on the bones, to say exactly how that will run, what the money can be used for, when the money will be available, et cetera. That’s work that we will now do with local communities and MPs over the course of the next six months.'
Cronin, formerly head of Kreab Gavin Anderson’s global energy practice, joined UKOOG in February.
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