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Shale expert tells Scottish Government to look at US examples of good fracking

Anti-fracking campaigners
A file photo of Friends of the Earth activists outside Holyrood, Edinburgh

Hydraulic fracking can be carried out safely and responsibly in Scotland if the right regulations are put in place, a shale gas expert said.

Melissa Stark, managing director of energy at consulting firm Accenture, said there were plenty of examples of fracking being conducted without adverse effects in the US.

Ms Stark advised the Scottish Government to approach US communities to see how they dovetailed effectively with shale gas operators.

She was speaking after the government published a series of reports into the potential impacts of permitting fracking in Scotland.

A public consultation on shale gas extraction will begin early next year.

Fracking is currently subject to a moratorium in Scotland.

Ms Stark said: “It’s great that Scotland is taking a considered view on hydraulic fracturing. As per the experience in the US, in basins like Marcellus, the community, government and operators can work together to develop the shale gas resources sustainably and to the economic benefit of the local community and to increased energy security for the UK.

“Perhaps one of the most useful things that the Scottish government can do is to engage with some of the local communities in the US to understand how they collaborate with the operators.

“Hydraulic fracturing, with the right environmental regulation, can be done responsibly with the impact to the community managed. There are enough examples in the US of how to do it well, or not so well, that Scotland can put in place the right incentives, regulation and forums for community and operator dialogue.

“However, it’s important to remember that there will be more than 1000 truck movements per well, so it can disruptive to a local community.”

She added: “As per the water and shale gas report that Accenture published in 2012, the supporting regulation needs to encourage disclosure of the materials used in hydraulic fracturing, take a cumulative approach to the basin to understand the overall impact to a geographic area, encourage a reduction in intensity overtime through continuous improvement and innovation (in the US, the drilling footprint of well pads has decreased by as much as 70% due to advanced drilling technology), track  water use and encourage reuse and use of non-potable water sources.”

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