Safety critical advice to operators on shale and unconventional oil and gas exploration is essential says Lloyd’s Register to reflect the increasing need to demonstrate good standards of safety, environmental and asset management.
Following the recent announcement that North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee approved shale gas exploration plans at a site near Kirby Misperton in Yorkshire, UK, the safety of operations is critical to ensure confidence in the industry.
“There is always the question on whether a country does or does not need shale gas as part of its energy security policy,” says Steve LGilbert, Vice-President of LR Senergy, a company of Lloyd’s Register.
“The future of unconventional gas and oil needs to be looked at in terms of the big picture. The world faces major challenges from energy security, energy poverty and global warming. The UK is not alone on this and there is no single answer to tackling these issues,” says Gilbert. “Unconventional energy could have a role to play, but the question ahead is whether the associated safety implications and operational risks for each individual fracking facility are acceptable. This is as much a socio-political question as a technical one.”
In upcoming energy sources, the expectations of operators vary. For many of them, compliance with international standards is still often optional; and, for the most part, legislation remains prescriptive. But that is changing as local energy operators look to become competitive in the global markets.
Lloyd’s Register has reinforced the need for stakeholders involved in the extraction of unconventional gas to demonstrate good standards of safety, environmental and asset management. “The public are naturally concerned but if operators get this right from the outset,” says Gilbert, “public perception could mean that unconventional gas has a place in the energy mix as energy security requirements become more important.”
Gilbert highlights that if it is the decision that the UK needs shale gas to be part of its energy mix, it is important to know that the UK has a highly regulated oil and gas industry.
“The UK oil and gas industry has one of the world’s most robust regulated regimes so any decision should be made in the knowledge that the UK can exploit its shale gas resources in a safe and responsible manner.”