Fracking industry urges Government to look again at shale gas with UK energy prices set to surge

UK Onshore Oil and Gas said the looming crisis was a ‘bizarre state of affairs’ when gas beneath Northern England and the Midlands could ‘meet the UK’s gas demand for 50 years’

Campaigners are urging Boris Johnson to hold the Government’s line on fracking as the UK’s onshore oil and gas industry has called on ministers to look again at shale gas amid the looming energy crisis.

It comes amid warnings from trade union leaders that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost unless Downing Street takes urgent action to avoid a surge in gas prices next spring.

Boris Johnson announced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in England in 2019, with drilling already blocked in the rest of the UK, after a scientific report warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquaes it might trigger.

It came after operations were halted in Lancashire only months earlier when homes were shaken by the UK’s largest fracking tremor, with residents saying houses shook during a “deep, guttural roar”.

But Katherine Gray from UK Onshore Oil and Gas said the looming crisis was a “bizarre state of affairs” when gas beneath Northern England and the Midlands could “meet the UK’s gas demand for 50 years”.

She said: “Our current gas crisis should be the flashing neon prompting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy needs to look at the science and come up with a workable plan to maximise our abundant domestic resource.”

Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Fracking was rightly halted two years ago because of concerns about safety and nothing has changed since then.

“The way out of the current gas crisis is not to produce more gas, but to insulate people’s homes and to increase deployment of renewable energy to reduce our reliance on expensive and polluting fossil fuels.”

A spokeswoman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “Science doesn’t change. Fracking is still as unacceptable as ever given the geological and environmental conditions in the UK.”

As the Government prepares to host the COP26 climate change summit next month, the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has already ruled out future fracking, saying it would disrupt too many communities.

The GMB union said the Government must urgently find a way of protecting manufacturing jobs from a surge in gas prices and ensure the UK manufactures can still meet their longer-term net zero targets.

A Government spokesperson said: “The issues we are facing are not a question of security of supply, but wholesale gas prices set by international markets. We maintain our position that fracking will not be allowed to proceed in England unless compelling new scientific evidence is provided.

“We are determined to secure a competitive future for our energy intensive industries such as manufacturing and construction, and in recent years have provided them with extensive support, including more than £2bn to help with the costs of energy and to protect jobs.”

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