Fracking: Methane Leakages

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 30th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour/Co-operative, Swansea West

What steps he has taken to reduce methane leakages as a result of fracking.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

The UK has many years of experience regulating the onshore oil and gas industry, and measures are in place to minimise methane emissions. The Environment Agency issues and robustly enforces legally binding environmental permits regulating methane emissions. Under these permits, operators must have an agreed gas management plan to detect leaks and make repairs over the lifetime of site operations. They must also monitor emissions before and during shale gas operations.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour/Co-operative, Swansea West

The Minister will know that NASA and satellite data show that 5% of the methane from fracking is leaked through fugitive emissions and that methane is 85 times worse than carbon dioxide for global warming, which makes fracking worse than coal for climate change. Will he meet me to discuss my fracking Bill, instead of listening to Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in Britain, from Ineos, who is hellbent on Brexit to avoid the environmental controls on fracking currently imposed by the European Union?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

I would be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and I would emphasise his comment about feeding in space data research. It highlights the importance of the UK space industry in looking at environmental issues. The Government also have a grant funding and environmental monitoring programme led by the British Geological Survey in respect of shale gas sites. All the information for that is publicly available. I also note that the MacKay-Stone 2013 report concluded that the carbon footprint of UK shale gas would be much less than that of coal and comparable to that of imported liquefied natural gas.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

There is no fracking in Scotland, there has been no fracking in Scotland and, under the SNP, there will be no fracking in Scotland. If we going to be serious about the climate emergency, there should not be fracking anywhere in the United Kingdom, so will the UK finally follow Scotland’s lead and rule out fracking on these islands?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Unfortunately, residents and households in Scotland still need to use gas, given that 85% of UK households use gas for heating, and it is right that we look at opportunities to meet our energy demand. Some 47% of gas was imported in 2017, but if we do not take action, this could rise to 72%. We want to increase our opportunities for generating electricity through renewables. In quarter 3 of 2018, just 2.5% of electricity was generated by coal, compared with 40% in 2010, so we are going in the right direction, but we cannot forget that people will be using gas in Scotland.