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Onshore Oil and Gas


The Scottish Government is considering the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.

Unconventional oil and gas

The future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland has proven both complex and controversial.  It is also an issue that has stimulated intense debate, motivated by deeply held and sincere views on all sides. 

The Scottish Government’s position is to take a cautious, evidence-led approach while we gather and consider evidence.  On 28 January 2015, the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland, which prevents hydraulic fracturing and coal bed methane extraction taking place.

View the Parliamentary statement on UOG.

The Scottish Government has compiled a comprehensive evidence-base into UOG (hydraulic fracturing and coal bed methane) to examine the potential environmental, health and economic impacts and to inform our evidence-led approach. This has included commissioning a report by an Independent Expert Scientific Panel, and commissioning a series of research projects to explore certain issues in more detail.

The Independent Expert Scientific Panel report was published in July 2014. The research reports were published on 08 November 2016.

On 31 January the Scottish Government launched a comprehensive public consultation, Talking “Fracking”, on unconventional oil and gas, which closed on 31 May.  The consultation invited views on the evidence on the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland and on the future of the industry.

Once the responses have been independently analysed and published, Ministers will make a recommendation on the future of unconventional oil and gas, and allow Parliament to vote on it. The Scottish Government will then come to a considered judgement on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland, recognising the will of the Scottish Parliament while following the statutory assessments and procedures required. The moratorium on unconventional oil and gas developments will remain in place throughout this process.

Underground Coal Gasification

In October 2015, the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) so that evidence on this technology could be gathered and considered.

Professor Campbell Gemmell, Professor of Environment Research, Policy, Regulation and Governance at the University of Glasgow, was asked to undertake an independent examination of Underground Coal Gasification.

Professor Gemmell’s report, which has been informed by the literature and through interviews with academics, industry, NGO’s, community groups and regulators was published on 06 October 2016.  View the Independent Review of Underground Coal Gasification report.

View the Parliamentary statement on UCG.

The report raises concerns about risks posed by UCG to the environment and public health. Having considered the findings of the report, Scottish Ministers have determined that UCG poses numerous serious environmental risks and should have no place in Scotland’s energy mix at this time.  The consultation on Scotland's draft Energy Strategy set out an energy mix for the future that does not include UCG.