MPs urge Boris Johnson to lift fracking ban for energy independence
MPs had called on Johnson in February to leave behind the "unconservative" ban in an attempt to combat the "cost of living crisis."
Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson to reject a proposal to close two of the country's only remaining producing shale gas wells by 15 March, arguing that it would eliminate a feasible approach of fighting the cost-of-living problem, according to The Telegraph.
The Tory Net Zero Security Group's 34 MPs and five peers wrote to Johnson, emphasizing the need for Britain to embark on a "national mission" to ensure its energy independence by dramatically reducing dependency on foreign gas supplies.
In their letter, they urged the PM "to pause and conduct a review of this decision. At a time of such geopolitical strife, we cannot refrain from actions that would improve the position of the UK and its allies. We have seen how a reliance on imported gas affects the responses of other countries during the initial stages of Russian aggression."
The letter, which was also signed by former Cabinet ministers Lord Lilley and Esther McVey, as well as a 2019 intake of legislators, warned that Europe had acquired an "addiction" to Russian gas, contending that plugging the wells with cement would "send the wrong signal to our allies and to our enemies," preventing the UK "from continuing this path to energy independence.”
In late November 2019, British authorities imposed a halt on commercial fracking at the Lancashire wells. Initially, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) ordered the suspension of test drilling owing to earthquakes.
After an earthquake was detected in 2019 near the Preston New Road location, environmentalists worry that possibly carcinogenic chemicals may escape during drilling, poisoning groundwater around the site, in addition to the earthquake worries.
The owner of the wells, Cuadrilla Now, called the choice "ridiculous" in light of growing gas prices.
Cuadrilla stated that "Shale gas from the North of England has the potential to meet the UK's energy needs for decades to come, yet ministers have chosen now, at the height of an energy crisis, to take us to this point."
The company's CEO, Francis Egan, remarked that the 0.5 Richter Scale limit for fracking activities was "ridiculous" and compared it to "sitting down in your armchair."
Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, agreed, calling a prohibition on fracking "absolute madness" in light of Russia's military operation.
The operation has been called an "invasion" by Western nations and a massive campaign of sanctions has been implemented on Russia.
British energy renaissance
In February, former Cabinet Office minister David Frost joined 29 MPs to plea with the PM to reverse the "unconservative" ban, detailing it would “allow us to combat the cost of living crisis, level up, create jobs, opportunity and a renewed sense of community in the north, improve our energy security, reduce our reliance on imported gas, stabilize energy prices and achieve net-zero without increasing the cost of living for already hard-pressed working families.”
Frost predicted that lifting the restriction would usher in a "British energy renaissance." However, a Downing Street official told the site at the time that the PM had been plain that is not something he would be reversing.
The Daily Mail claimed a Government source said “Fracking causes earthquakes, is hated by local communities, would take five to ten years to kick-start, and won't even lower the price. We need to get real: Lancashire isn't Texas, any shale gas we do find won't be enough to lower the European price.”
UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng accused MPs calling for the return of fracking of “misunderstanding the situation we find ourselves in.”
“No amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells dotted across rural England would be enough to lower the European price any time soon. And... private companies are not going to sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price,” Kwarteng wrote.
EU and UK sanctions to exacerbate energy crisis
Europe's current energy crisis is only in the beginning, according to financial experts.
Sanctions that have been slapped on Russia by the EU and the UK during its military operation are only exaggerating the crisis, with serious consequences yet to come.
On March 3, Brent crude oil prices increased to $120 a barrel. In the past 30 days, Brent crude prices have seen a 37% increase, as the six-month contract's spread hit an all-time-high record which indicates a shortage of supplies.