Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil
The Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO) is a new UK Government office which claims that it 'aims to promote the safe, responsible, and environmentally sound recovery of the UK’s unconventional reserves of gas and oil'. It covers not only the development of shale gas and oil but also other forms of unconventional production such as coal bed methane.
It was launched 11 March 2013 at Westminster.
A Freedom of Information Act response by DECC stated that:
- OUGO leads on the policy area and co-ordinates the work of other government departments and regulators, each of whom have their own costs and budgets. OUGO’s admin budget for 2014-15 is £794K and programme budget for activities is £987k.
Wining and dining with fracking bosses
In 2013 emails and text messages released in a Freedom of Information request made by Greenpeace revealed a close relationship between OUGO and other government departments with the industry:
- In one text on 3 May, an unnamed Cuadrilla employee updates OUGO head Duarte Figueira on his meetings with the Balcombe parish council before adding “Please ask your press office not to comment on any speculative queries, enjoy your swimming and the weekend".
- That same day Mr Figueira invited Cuadrilla boss, Francis Egan, to dinner and drinks at the Preston Marriot.
- At the dinner, on 9 May, Mr Egan met Sir Jeremy Heywood along with other senior government figures key to decisions on fracking including DECC chief civil servant, Stephen Lovegrove and Phil Halsall, the CEO of Lancashire County Council. Tony Grayling from the Environment Agency (EA) was also present.
According to Greenpeace, large parts of the text message correspondence between Figuera and Cuadrilla were redacted. It surmised that 'Cuadrilla’s well documented difficulties in Balcombe may have strained the cordial relationship'.
- On the 26 July, after a number of protestors were arrested near to Cuadrilla’s drilling site a Cuadrilla representative asks Mr Figueira “can we speak”, but there is no reply for four days.
- The firm goes on to update Mr Figueira on the many TV appearances of their chief executive and the halting progress at the site “drilling was delayed today for technical reasons but should start tomorrow,” says another text, “will advise when underway.”
- The reply to that text, on the 1 August, is entirely redacted. 
Liaison on third-party liabilities policy
Emails released under Freedom of Information rules revealed that OUGO had consulted with UKOOG on amendments to clauses on third-party liabilities between October and November 2014 before they were tabled in parliament.
:From: REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Energy Development)
- Sent: 12/ 11/ 2014 11:55
- To: Ken Cronin
- Cc: REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40; REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Energy Development); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Markets and Infrastructure); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (DECC Legal)
- Subject: Revised clauses
- Thanks for reviewing our earlier clauses on third-party liabilities and for the helpful discussion. Attached is a new draft, which as you can see is substantially simpler and should address the concerns you raised. We will be tabling a further iteration along these lines in Parliament later today.
Letter on headed paper of the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil
- From: REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Energy Development)
- Sent: 31 October 2014 15:27
- To: Ken Cronin
- Cc: REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (REDACTION REG. 13(1) & firstname.lastname@example.org); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & :s.40 (Energy Development); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Energy Development); REDACTION REG. 13(1) :& s.40 (Energy Development); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (DECC Legal); REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40 (Heat & Industry)
- Subject: Draft clauses for comment, on third party claims
- As I briefly mentioned earlier this week, we are planning to introduce an amendment to protect landowners from being sued by third parties for damage caused by shale or geothermal operations. I attach a draft of the clauses, which are yet to be finalised (including some bits in square brackets). Please keep circulation of these clauses to the minimum necessary for gauging relevant members’ views, and ask them to do likewise.
- Please could you provide any comments by next Friday (7th)? This is to ensure the amendment can be tabled in time for the final stage of the Lords.
- We are interested in any impacts you think might be unintentional or detrimental, but please do not provide suggestions for alternative drafting as this is something we defer to Parliamentary Counsel. Identifying any issues (hopefully there are none) should be sufficient and we can take it from there.
- REDACTION REG. 13(1) & s.40</ref>
- Emily Bourne, head of OUGO from 2015
- Duarte Figueira, former head of OUGO, went on to become head of strategy and programmes at DECC, now at the International Energy Agency
Meetings with fracking firms
- 'Disclosure meeting' held 18 December 2014 organised by UKOOG (?), attended by Centrica, Cuadrilla, IGAS, Celtique, Egdon, Ken Cronin and five other UKOOG representatives, and PSSL. 
- FOI 20147: All correspondence between OUGO and UKOOG from 1 July until 30 January 2015. Released 28 May 2015 under Freedom of Information Act.
- 3 Whitehall Place
- London SW1A 2AW
- Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO), Gov.UK website, undated, acc 10 September 2013
- Damian Kalya, FOI: Cabinet secretary hosted dinner for fracking firms, Greenpeace EnergyDesk, 18 September 2014
- Emails released under FOI 20147, All correspondence between OUGO and UKOOG from 1 July until 30 January 2015. Released 28 May 2015