UK Onshore Operators Group

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Logo of the oil and gas UK Onshore Operators Group
The United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group, also referred to as United Kingdom Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG), is a trade lobby group. It calls itself the 'the UK voice for onshore oil and gas exploration' and has been at the forefront of the push to develop shale gas in the country.

Discussing fracking 'lines to take' with UK govt

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project
In January 2014 Freedom of Information requests made by Greenpeace revealed that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) had emailed what it called "lines to take" to UKOOG before the publication of the potential public health effects of chemical and radioactive pollutants from fracking in a review by Public Health England.
One such line was: "We are confident that there is robust and appropriate regulation in the UK to ensure safe operations that minimise impacts to human health."

The Guardian reported:

In one case the Decc apologised to UKOOG: "Sorry to raise your blood pressure on this subject again, no expletives please!" following a discussion of contentious policy points. In another email, UKOOG's chief executive, Ken Cronin, tells Duarte Figueira, head of Decc's office of unconventional gas and oil: "Thanks for a productive meeting (it's like being set homework)."

A spokeswoman for Decc told the Guardian:

Decc has working relationships with external partners across its portfolio and this is no different with regards to shale gas. It is right and proper that Decc facilitates discussions between companies, regulators and other interested parties as part of this. The government believes that shale gas has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs. We are encouraging safe and environmentally sound exploration to determine this potential."
Cronin, of UKOOG, said: "Given the amount of regulatory and wider industry issues at present, you would expect Decc to have a fairly open dialogue with the industry trade body just as Decc has with environmental NGOs, as witnessed by the NGOs' input into the strategic environmental assessment announced in December."

[1]

'Consultation' - 'Let's talk about shale'

UKOOG-talk-about-shale-website-crop.png
A 'pilot initiative' shale gas 'roadshow' set up in September 2014 by UKOOG, claimed to be 'the first of its kind in the UK' and focused 'on a handful of towns and cities in the North West and East Midlands'. It notably came after the industry's refusal over the summer of 2014 to engage in high-profile 'Talk Fracking' events run by an activist group fronted by the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

The ‘Let’s talk about shale’ campaign directly targeted a public audience with careful stakeholder PR usage of the first person about 'hearing and answering YOUR questions on shale gas':

...If you live in one of the pilot areas you may have seen posters and information in your local paper, a postcard through your door, and may have spoken with members of the ‘Let’s talk about shale team’ handing out postcards in shopping centres and high streets. We have also been running local events and discussions with local community groups, and will continue these for the next few weeks.
Over the last few weeks, this website has enabled people to submit their questions about shale gas. Since 8th September, we have received over 1500 questions and comments through this website and postcards.
We have received a huge variety of questions. 17% have been about water, 8% about energy security and we have also received many about safety, air, planning rules, community benefits and regulations. [2]

The campaign included the use of a ‘Let’s talk about shale’ digi-van: a high-tech vehicle equipped with flatscreen TVs - and promotional staff with tablet computers. [3]

UKOOG told local press that it had set up the campaign because 'the public are subjected to a stream of information from a range of sources and much of this information is wrong'. [4] The roadshow was criticised by community and anti-fracking activists for it appearing to be less about talking about fracking than recording questions on postcards. [5]

Prof Sarah O’Hara, of the University of Nottingham, said: 'Our polling shows people want to know more about shale so I welcome the industry’s efforts.'[4]

However, others were less impressed with this type of public engagement. Jackie Copley, planning manager for the Lancashire branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England, said she believed that people were generally well-informed. 'The industry should give the public a bit of credit... With all due respect, the Let’s Talk About Shale initiative [by the industry body UKOOG] that I saw was really quite patronising.' [6]

Political access

Attendee at UK energy minister's May 2018 shale gas roundtable

Energy minister Claire Perry hosted a roundtable with the fracking industry in May 2018 just hours before she gave evidence to a committee of MPs on the Conservative government's proposed changes to relax the rules on shale gas development in the UK.

A 'reconstructed' attendee list was released under the freedom of information act to North Yorkshire resident Jonathan Bales following an internal review of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's initial almost completely redacted FOI response. [7]

Oil and gas companies at the roundtable included:

Other industries and organisations: Chemical Industries Association chemical company SABIC, Coalfield Regeneration Trust, Engineering Employers’ Federation, GMB. [8]

National College For Onshore Oil And Gas

In November 2014, former energy minister Matthew Hancock announced government backing for a 'National College for Onshore Oil and Gas' and the provision of £750,000 in funding for its development. The college will provide specialist skills needed by the industry from ‘A’ level equivalents right through to postgraduate degree level, and train teachers and regulators. It will also fund academic research into fracking, and promote careers in the industry to children. [9]

At the announcement, Hancock said:

'Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.'
'That’s why we are investing in the people behind the project. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive.'

UKOOG led the bid to set up the college, which was formally set up in September 2015. Ken Cronin, UKOOG's CEO, is also the college's director, alongside Gary Haywood of INEOS, and Lee Petts. It is based in Lancashire. It is jointly funded by the shale industry [10]

Studies

In January 2014 UKOOG announced on Twitter that it was conducting a study with Ernst and Young (EY) into supply chain benefits of shale gas in the UK.

People

Events

  • 6 July 2016: Planning and Environment Summit - A national conference of 'planning committees, academics, planning officers, health and safety teams, environmental health regulators and energy managers' to provide guidance and the 'right and most accurate information' on determining fracking applications. Speakers include Ken Cronin, Lincolnshire planning manager Neil McBride, Environment Agency adviser Charlotte Danvers, UKOOG policy officer Tony Almond, Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor Peter Styles. [11]

Former Directors

Advisers

  • Corin Taylor, senior adviser seconded from energy giant Centrica between 2014-15, where he was communications research director. Now a UKOOG director. Taylor was a co-author of a widely-quoted Institute of Directors report that claimed 74,000 jobs would be created if shale gas development were to go ahead in the UK.

Company directors

Company name changed September 2014 from UK Onshore Operators Group to UK Onshore Oil & Gas

Previous directors:

Lobbying firms

In August 2013 UKOOG was planning to pitch out its Brussels public affairs project for its interaction with European regulators. [12]

  • Westbourne Communications - from June 2014,[13]worked on the 'Let's talk about shale' series. No longer listed on the APPC register as a Westbourne client.

Affiliations

Contact

Address: 63 Duke Street, London W1K 5NS, United Kingdom.
Website:
Twitter: UKOOG (315 followers as of 20 January 2014, 682 followers as of 19 January 2015)

Resources

See: Fracking lobbying firms

Notes

  1. Damian Carrington, Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition, The Guardian, Friday 17 January 2014 15.37 GMT
  2. Let's talk about shale, UKOOG, accessed September and December 2014
  3. General public encouraged to ask questions about natural gas from shale, UKOOG press release 8 September 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Worksop: Time to give views on shale soon, Worksop Guardian 10 September 2014
  5. Facebook page, Let's not talk about Fracking
  6. Drill or Drop, “Scandalous” shortage of money for research into public engagement on fracking, conference told, coverage of the Shale UK conference in Liverpool, 24 June 2015
  7. What do they Know?, Shale Gas Round Table: internal review of Freedom of Information request to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 24 July 2018
  8. Ruth Hayhurst, What government told the shale gas industry about success, regulation, jobs and support, Drill or Drop, 22 October 2018, accessed same day.
  9. Skilling up shale: First national UK onshore oil and gas college announced, GOV.uk, 12 November 2014, accessed 30 January 2017.
  10. National College for onshore oil and gas unveiled, UKOOG, 12 November 2014, accessed 30 January 2017.
  11. Summit overview, OpenForumEvents, accessed 5 January 2017.
  12. Daniel Farey-Jones, Shale gas body to pitch out Brussels public affairs project, PRweek.com, 6 August 2013, acc 12 February 2014
  13. Register 1st June 2014 - 31st August 2014 APPC, accessed 17 October 2014
  14. Register of All-Party Groups (As at 7 June 2013), parliament.co.uk