Europe

Shale gas planning applications in the UK will be fast-tracked through a new, dedicated planning process, under measures announced Thursday.

Amber Rudd, energy and climate change secretary, and Greg Clark, communities secretary, announced plans that will ensure local people have a say over the development of shale exploration in their area —but will ensure communities and the industry benefit from a swift process for developing safe and suitable new sites.

The measures include identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16-week statutory time frame, with subsequent applications potentially decided by the Communities Secretary.

“We need more secure, home grown energy supplies—and shale gas must play a part in that,” Rudd said. “To ensure we get this industry up and running we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end.”

The UK has made clear shale is a national priority, helping to move the country to a low-carbon economy. But ministers want to ensure that shale applications can’t be frustrated by slow and confused decision making amongst councils.

If planning applications for shale exploration developments take months or even years, it can create uncertainty for communities and prevent the development of a potentially vital national industry.

The new measures mean ministers will consider calling in any application for shale exploration, and will recover appeals on a case-by-case basis.

Local communities will remain fully involved in planning decisions with any shale application—whether decided by councils or government. And demanding planning rules to ensure shale development happens only at appropriate sites remain unchanged.

On top of this, strong safety and environmental safeguards are also already in place through the regulatory regime.

As a quasi-judicial process, planning applications will always be considered with due process and a fair hearing, but the new measures will prevent long delays.

The measures include:

The Communities Secretary actively considering calling in on a case-by-case basis shale planning applications and considering recovering appeals Identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16-week statutory time frame requirement (unless applicants agree to a longer period). Under-performing councils’ gas and oil planning applications could be determined by the Communities SecretaryAdding shale applications as a specific criterion for recovery of appeals, to ensure no application can ‘fall through the cracks’ Ensuring planning call ins and appeals involving shale applications are prioritized by the Planning Inspectorate Taking forward work on revising permitted development rights for drilling boreholes for groundwater monitoring.

The government also believes that communities hosting shale gas developments should share in the financial returns they generate, and will be presenting proposals later in the year on the design of a new sovereign wealth fund.

The UK’s Task Force on Shale Gas has released its third report looking at how the development of a UK shale industry would affect the island nation’s overall climate impact.

The report’s overarching finding is that shale gas has a role to play as an interim baseload energy source in the UK energy mix over the medium term.

Gas will be needed for several decades, for energy,
electricity, heating, and industry; but it must not prohibit or slow the development of an effective renewables and low carbon energy industry.

To ensure the longer-term adoption of renewables and low carbon energy, the Task Force is calling on the government to expedite the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS), and says that measures should be taken to ring-fence government energy revenue streams for investment in R&D and innovation in renewables and low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution.

“Our conclusion from all the evidence we’ve seen is clear. The UK will only meet its binding climate commitments by moving in the long term to renewable and low carbon energy sources,” Lord Chris Smith, chair of the Task Force on Shale Gas said. “Nonetheless, from the evidence, it is apparent that renewables cannot meet the UK’s short term energy needs. Gas must play a role over the medium term.

The relative climate impact of shale gas is similar to that of conventional gas and less than that of liquefied natural gas. It is also much better than coal.”

Shale gas revenue

“Gas will be needed for several decades to come. But we make two strong recommendations to make sure this happens in the right way,” Lord Smith added. “First, there must be immediate progress in developing carbon capture and storage for gas-fired power stations and industrial plant. And second, we recommend that the government should deploy revenue derived from a developed shale gas industry to investment in R&D and innovation in CCS and low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution.”

The recommendations follow months of academic review, input from industry, experts, campaigners and relevant associations. The Task Force concludes that, if properly regulated, implemented and monitored, shale gas should be explored as a potential gas source to meet UK energy needs.

The task force will publish its final report in December 2015 covering economics, together with its final conclusions and recommendations.

The Task Force on Shale Gas was launched in September 2014 to give careful consideration to public concerns, and to provide an impartial and transparent assessment of the potential benefits and risks of shale gas extraction to the UK.

CB&I (NYSE:CBI) today announced it has been awarded contracts valued in excess of $90 million by NefteGazIndustriya, LLC, through project developer MAVEG GmbH, to provide the technology licenses and front end engineering and design (FEED) services for the Afipsky Oil Refinery in Krasnodar, Russia.

 

CB&I's project scope includes FEED development for multiple new process units, including a 2.5 million ton per annum hydrocracker unit licensed by Chevron Lummus Global, a joint venture between CB&I and Chevron, as well as hydrogen and sulfur units licensed by CB&I and other associated units. CB&I is also providing technology and FEED services for a crude distillation/vacuum distillation/visbreaker complex, which will utilize the Shell Soaker Visbreaking technology jointly licensed by CB&I and Shell.

 

"CB&I has been selected to provide both the technology licenses and the FEED services for this project, further building upon the company's proven expertise in the refining industry," said Philip K. Asherman, CB&I's President and Chief Executive Officer. "CB&I appreciates NefteGazIndustriya's confidence in our ability to deliver results and is fully committed to meeting our client's expectations on this important project."

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