Shale gas body seeks agency for public affairs project

LONDON: The industry body for the UK's onshore gas and oil sector is gearing up to hunt for agency support for its interaction with European regulators as they study how to deal with fracking.

LONDON: The industry body for the UK's onshore gas and oil sector is gearing up to hunt for agency support for its interaction with European regulators as they study how to deal with fracking.

The UK Onshore Operators Group was relaunched at the beginning of this year amid growing national interest in the potential of unlocking underground reserves of oil and gas through fracking technology. 

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water and chemicals into wells at high pressure to open up seams. The practice is under scrutiny in the European Union, which last year published studies concluding it can lead to groundwater contamination.

Earlier this year, European Union 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 that the EU will 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 CEO Ken Cronin said the group will start the process of searching for an agency to handle the project “very shortly.”

The project is separate from the group's UK comms and public affairs account, which Newgate has handled for the past six months.

Cronin added that 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 discussion about the 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 £1 billion over the course of a 25-year period, which is roughly about £10 million per shale site,” said Cronin. “What we 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, etc. 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.

This story originally appeared on PRWeek UK.

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