The Scottish Government has undertaken an extensive and comprehensive period of evidence-gathering, including consultation, over the past five years which examines the issues, challenges and opportunities presented by unconventional oil and gas. The content of this BRIA draws on the findings of this activity, in particular the suite of research reports which were published in 2016.
The amount of unconventional oil and gas that could be economically or technically recovered in Scotland is not known. Further exploratory work (including core sampling) would be required to better understand the resources that could be commercially exploited.
The total economic impact of unconventional oil and gas is estimated to be relatively low, and is not comparable to the current offshore industry in Scotland.
While an unconventional oil and gas sector in Scotland could provide important benefits to Scotland's petrochemical sector and provide a cost-effective gas supply for local energy networks, and increase security of supply, particularly for high energy use industries, the scale of production in Scotland would be relatively low in comparison to European or international gas production and would be unlikely to have an impact on global gas supply prices, and therefore on consumer energy costs.
The Scottish Government considers the development of an onshore unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland would make achieving its energy and climate change commitments more challenging. Whilst acknowledging the important role of gas in the transition to a low carbon energy future, the addition of an onshore unconventional oil and gas industry would not promote Scotland's ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets or objectives in relation to protecting and enhancing the environment.
The statutory and other assessments undertaken and the consultation responses to the findings and all the previous evidence assembled by the Scottish Government have been carefully considered during the policy development process.
Based on current evidence and social acceptability, Option 1 has been recommended: 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 coal bed methane.
Having considered all available evidence and responses to public consultation, including to the partial BRIA, Ministers have confirmed their policy of no support for unconventional oil and gas in Scotland's energy mix, following the completion of the policy-making process.