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UK Energy Minister Had 'Private' Meeting With Drillers Before Fracking Resumed

The UK’s Energy Minister Claire Perry had a private meeting with oil and gas firms in May, months before fracking resumed in the UK earlier this month for the first time in seven years, but she failed to record that meeting in a transparency register, The Guardian reported on Friday. 

Details of the May meeting emerged following a freedom of information request, and showed that Perry met with industry representatives, authorities, and other companies, including BP and Cuadrilla.

It is Cuadrilla that resumed hydraulic fracturing operations in the UK earlier this month—at the Preston New Road shale gas exploration site in Lancashire in northwest England amid protests by campaigners and local residents.

According to the round table notes, the key points from the minister’s presentation included arguments that the UK is moving to a position to become a net importer of gas, that the shale industry could create jobs, and that a ‘UK model’ of shale extraction can be created and exported around the world.

Related: The Lucky Few In Canada’s Oil Patch

“There is no model of fossil fuel extraction that we should be pursuing, much less trying to sell globally,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Rose Dickinson told The Guardian, commenting on the minutes from the meeting that have emerged.

Just days before minister Perry’s meeting with the oil and gas companies, the UK government announced plans to facilitate timely decisions on shale gas exploration planning applications in England as part of a plan to reduce dependence on gas imports amid an ongoing decline in the UK North Sea’s conventional gas production.

“Despite the welcome improvements in efficiency and innovation from companies operating in the North Sea, the ongoing decline in our offshore gas production has meant that the UK has gone from being a net exporter of gas in 2003 to importing over half (53%) of gas supplies in 2017 and estimates suggest we could be importing 72% of our gas by 2030,” Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said in the middle of May. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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