With new tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas developments announced, the energy minister Michael Fallon has made calls to further strengthen the UK’s reliance on its domestic supplies by focusing on shale energy.
Fallon has made the point that events in Russia, including the recent annexation of Crimea brought on by the toppling of the Ukrainian government by the Euromaidan movement, means we should look more inwardly for our energy needs to avoid foreign instability or the chance of Russian pressure and blackmail.
He said: “It’s a wake-up call to Europe of the need to develop more energy sources of all kinds. We can’t be more dependent on imports from unstable regions.”
His solution is to focus on shale gas, which is obtaining through the controversial hydraulic fracturing extraction method, also known as fracking. Fracking sites up and down the country, and around the world, have been targeted by protesters, including Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, who was arrested at an anti-fracking protest in August last year, who believe the process causes severe environmental damage. Supporters of the method say these claims are false and over exaggerated.
The effects of foreign events have been felt strongly before. Back in 2009 in a separate dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the disruption to gas supplies caused UK prices to rise by 17% in only two weeks. The country has tried to counteract this by increasing stockpile levels, but Russia still has the option to shut off supplies all together which could cause prices to skyrocket regardless.
Image by Joshua Doubek.