Publication - FOI/EIR release

Questions related to the Scottish Government moratorium on the development of hydraulic fracturing: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
14 Oct 2020
Questions related to the Scottish Government moratorium on the development of hydraulic fracturing: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000080832
Date received: 26 Aug 2020
Date responded: 9 Sep 2020
Information requested

"I note that the Scottish Government have passed a moratorium on the development of hydraulic fracturing, unconventional oil and gas, and coal gas. I wanted to ask further questions related to these developments, or at least a clarification of policy regarding this industry.

The questions I would like to have answered are:

Q1. – Is there an effective moratorium (ban, or any other hinderance) on Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland (from shale and coal), if so when were these policies enacted?

Q2. – Is the ‘hydraulic fracturing’technique disallowed? If so, then are all unconventional techniques disallowed such as directional drilling?

Q3. – Is ‘hydraulic fracturing’banned in other industries other than oil and gas, such as for enhanced geothermal infrastructure?

Q4. – Is ‘directional drilling’ banned in other industries other than oil and gas, such as for enhanced geothermal infrastructure?

Q5. – Is conventional extraction banned onshore when using traditional extraction methods?

Q6. – Does this policy extend offshore into Scottish Waters?"

Response

Responses to all of your questions can be found in Annex A below.

One response has been provided for Questions 1 and 2, and for 3 and 4; Questions 5 and 6 are responded to individually.

ANNEX A– INFORMATION RELEASED

Q1. – Is there an effective moratorium(ban, or any other hindrance) on Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland (fromshale and coal), if so when were these policies enacted?

Q2. – Is the ‘hydraulic fracturing’ technique disallowed? If so, then are all unconventional techniques disallowed such as directional drilling?

The Scottish Government has taken a cautious, evidence-led approach to developing unconventional oil and gas (UOG) policy. Following the conclusion of this robust and comprehensive policy development process, on 03 October 2019 Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, confirmed to Parliament the Scottish Government’s finalised policy position of no support for unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. This means development connected to the onshore exploration, appraisal or production of coal bed methane or shale oil or shale gas using unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and dewatering for coalbed methane.

Q3. – Is ‘hydraulic fracturing’ banned in other industries other than oil and gas, such as for enhanced geothermal infrastructure?

Q4. – Is ‘directional drilling’ banned in other industries other than oil and gas, such as for enhanced geothermal infrastructure?

As stated in the 2017 Scottish Government consultation on UOG, Talking “Fracking”, (Box 1 on page 16) , there are other uses of hydraulic fracturing in Scotland:

  • to stimulate groundwater wells;

  • to stimulate conventional oil and gas deposits, for instance in the North Sea;

  • to measure stress in the Earth; 

  • and as part of a deep geothermal project.

The specific processes and technologies involved will vary depending on the purpose and form of the proposed activity. These will be taken into consideration by the relevant regulatory authorities handling individual requests for approval of the proposed activities, such as the relevant planning authority and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

Q5. – Is conventional extraction banned onshore when using traditional extraction methods?

No oil and gas extraction can be undertaken onshore in Scotland without a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL). Under the terms of the licence, drilling activities require Scottish Ministers’ approval, as the competent licensing authority. On receipt of a drilling request, Scottish Ministers will consider the proposed extraction method. In addition to Scottish Ministers’ approval, proposed extraction activities may require the consent of other regulatory authorities, such as the planning authority and SEPA. More information about onshore oil and gas licensing is available on the Scottish Government website.

Q6. – Does this policy extend offshore into Scottish Waters?

The geographical extent of Scottish Ministers’ responsibilities as onshore oil and gas licensing authority, are set out in section 8A of the Petroleum Act 1998, as amended: “The Scottish onshore area is the area of Scotland that is within the baselines established by anyOrder in Council under section 1(1)(b) of the Territorial Sea Act 1987 (extension of territorial sea).” Beyond the Territorial Sea baseline, the Oil and Gas Authority is the relevant licensing authority in respect of the proposed extraction of the UK’s oil and gas resources.

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Contact

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Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
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