Henry Smith Conservative MP for Crawley: Just a few years ago, people were making a lot of optimistic claims about fracking. They looked at the success of the shale industry in the US and hoped that fracking might bring similar benefits to the UK. But after years of failed attempts to establish this new fossil fuel industry, the time has now come for the controversial practice of fracking to be dropped once and for all. It’s not economically beneficial, it’s not in line with our world-leading commitment to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by reaching net zero by 2050 and it’s not popular with our constituents. It was once thought that, as long as government and industry had strong safety and environmental safeguards in place, fracking could have a place within a diverse energy mix. Advocates often cited the United States’ apparent newfound energy independence, stating that we too could benefit from the US-style fracking boom that saw it replace Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil exporter last year. But the reality has turned out differently. According to the UK Energy Research Centre, “any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again, let alone allowing significant exports, is far-fetched”. Compared to North America, the shale geology of the UK is considerably more complex and drilling costs are substantially higher. It’s estimated that to replace even 50 per cent of our gas imports we would need over 6,000 new wells, and the UK’s population density and geography, not least in relation to water resources, would make that extremely difficult.
Telegraph 28th Oct 2019 read more »
This week brings quarterly results from the world’s biggest energy companies. Some will beat expectations, some will miss, and after a brief flurry of algo-driven share price adjustment your average investor will carry on hating oil stocks, regardless. But in the malaise gripping the sector may lie the chance for a bold executive to break free from the herd. John Browne, the former BP chief, said last week that it felt like the energy transition was “collapsing in time”, with changes towards cleaner energy that were once expected to take decades now being demanded by the public — and increasingly investors — within years. While none of the majors is about to renounce fossil fuels, if investors want a faster acceleration into the energy transition, then they need to find ways to profitably deliver one. The company that is first to deliver is likely to make far more impact than whatever shows up in the latest quarterly accounts. And the energy major with the vision to move first and at scale might be the one to win investors round. This might not be imminent. But is more dramatic action now under serious consideration? Definitely.
FT 29th Oct 2019 read more »