Clock Ticking for Kwasi to Save England’s Shale Gas Option



Clock Ticking for Kwasi to Save England’s Shale Gas Option

Earlier this week, Guido reminded BEIS they still hadn’t actually confirmed to energy firm Cuadrilla that they will call off plans to permanently seal off the only two viable shale gas wells in England. The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the Commons on Wednesday that “it did not necessarily make any sense to concrete over the wells”. So why hasn’t Kwasi given the order to call off the concreting over yet? As Cuadrilla’s CEO Francis Egan pointed out, this was pretty crucial for his firm, given they’re scheduled to begin pouring concrete down the wells next week. Unless Kwasi gives him a call, “nothing has changed” as far as Egan is concerned… 

Two days later, and still nothing has changed. BEIS are running down the clock. Last night Egan put out another fraught statement imploring the government to get their act together and let Cuadrilla call off the cement mixers and turn the trucks around:

“The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has set us a deadline of 30th June for filling our shale gas wells with concrete.  Plugging and abandoning these two wells takes 2-3 months, which is why work’s starting next week.  That means we have a rig contracted, waiting to travel to our site in Lancashire, costing dearly for every day it waits idle.

“I urgently request the Business Department and the OGA to formally withdraw its instruction to plug the wells.  They should also put sensible protections in place to ensure that companies like Cuadrilla and others aren’t forced to suffer the risk and financial uncertainty of operating in a position where a Government can keep changing its mind and require wells to be cemented whilst they are still useful.  

“30th June is still the legal deadline to cement these wells and delay in engaging with us effectively trumps what’s said in the House of Commons.  Every minute counts and costs…”

The OGA’s deadline is the 30th June, consequently the concrete starts flowing next week unless Egan is officially told otherwise. It’s all very good for Kwasi to stand in the Commons and claim the government “supports shale gas exploration” if it’s done safely, it can’t be done at all if the well is cemented over…

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