Jobs and education needed to win British over to fracking: survey

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 29, 2013 7:04 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Government incentives for affected communities must be followed up by education and job creation to convince a skeptical British public that fracking for shale oil and gas is right, according to a survey of industry professionals.

Some 70 per cent of almost 200 respondents to the survey by data provider Rigzone believe the British government was right to offer incentives to communities where hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and horizontal drilling will be used.

But 51 per cent believed this will not be enough to win the public debate.

None of the respondents flagged the need to provide additional incentives to exploration companies, Rigzone said.

The government proposed earlier this month that tax payable on income from shale production should be 30 percent - down from 62 percent for traditional oil and gas.

For the communities, the industry will have to provide 100,000 pounds($152,000) in benefits and 1 percent of the revenue from each production site, the government has said.

Education on the economic benefits of the technology followed by job creation were viewed as the two most important messages to promote now, the survey found.

Industry estimates suggest Britain may have major shale reserves which could help reverse a rising dependency on energy imports, but the industry is having to tread carefully to reassure the public and a vocal environmental lobby.

Opponents see fracking, which forces sand and fluid into shale rocks deep below the surface, as potentially damaging to the environment and to water supplies.

"In the U.S., shale gas extraction has helped stimulate a low cost energy boom that has seen the cost of natural gas effectively drop by 50 per cent since 2007," said Dominic Simpson, Head of Sales of Rigzone in EMEA and APAC regions.

"For the UK to reap a shale gas dividend, it is clear more will need to be done to win the public debate and ensure exploration companies pursue the sizeable onshore market opportunity."

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On Thursday last week protests blocked access to a drilling site in southern England as part of a campaign against fracking.

The drilling company, Cuadrilla Resources, has said it got deliveries through over the weekend and hopes to start drilling midweek.

The well in question is not due to be fracked, but Cuadrilla has used the technology elsewhere and holds more shale acreage, so has become a target for protestors.

Rigzone said it surveyed UK-based oil and gas professionals between July 2 to July 8. Nearly 200 responded, with 21 per cent at organizations that have fracking-related operations in Europe and another 13 per cent with operations in another part of the world.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by Anthony Barker)