Fracking: Safety

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 4th February 2015.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is a requirement that the Health and Safety Executive assess all hydraulic fracturing sites during (a) the exploration phase and (b) all further phases, including decommissioning.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) regulatory regime for oil and gas operations onshore including hydraulic fracturing is long-established.

The approach has two main elements:

1. Specialist well engineers (working with the industry association) help develop best practice standards for the oil and gas industry as a whole.

2. This is supplemented by risk-based interventions to assess if well integrity risks are managed appropriately.

An oil or gas well is a complex engineered construction, most of which is below ground and not accessible to visual inspection. Consequently HSE seeks to ensure that the well design (which is approved by an independent well examiner) conforms to the relevant standards. A pre-construction well notification report is submitted to HSE for assessment and approval before any work commences.

During construction or decommissioning of the well HSE receives weekly well operations reports from the operator. These reports and the supporting detailed technical data obtained from readouts during the well operations are assessed by HSE specialist inspectors to ensure the well is being constructed, operated or decommissioned in accordance with the approved design parameters or decommissioning process.

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