Ministers considering new fracking steps while seeking to phase out Russian oil

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been under a ‘moratorium’ for over two years.

08 March 2022

Ministers were considering steps that could lead to a fracking rethink in the UK after committing to phasing out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year.

Boris Johnson said on Tuesday the move over Moscow’s oil was an important “first step” to “punish” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as substitute fuels are lined up.

Amid concerns over soaring energy costs, it was understood two Cuadrilla sites in Lancashire may be handed over to the Royal Geographical Society rather than being concreted over.

POLITICS Ukraine Imports
(PA Graphics)

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been under a “moratorium” for over two years but the move could allow for the sites to be opened up at a later date.

Former Cabinet minister Lord Frost, who has been campaigning for the ban to be reversed, said it was a “sensible first step” from the Government.

Robert Jenrick, a former communities secretary, called for a “more pragmatic energy policy” that would ease soaring bills while the UK strives to hit net zero.

“I personally was always a supporter of fracking, I don’t think it’s a quick fix, but I think we should be revisiting that question,” he told BBC Newsnight.

As recently as Monday Downing Street had denied suggestions the fracking moratorium could be lifted in response to the Ukraine crisis.

And energy minister Lord Callanan warned of “severe environmental problems” with shale gas production, adding that “Lancashire is not Texas”, being much more heavily populated.

ENERGY Fracking
(PA Graphics)

The moratorium was imposed on fracking in November 2019 after it caused two minor earthquakes in the county.

Last month, energy company Cuadrilla said the UK Government’s Oil and Gas Authority(OGA) had ordered the two horizontal shale wells in Lancashire to be filled and abandoned.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the move to phase out Russian oil products by the end of the year will “ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected”.

He pledged to establish a new taskforce to help firms find “alternative supplies”.

The Prime Minister said Britain could not “move overnight”, with the UK particularly exposed on imports of diesel from Russia.

“But we can certainly do it and we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt supply, that ensures we have substitute supplies on stream in an orderly way and in a timetable that won’t affect UK business, won’t affect UK manufacturing, road haulage or other parts of our industry, but will punish the regime of Vladimir Putin,” Mr Johnson told broadcasters.

US President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports, while the European Union was also expected to announce a phasing out.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and No 10 are yet to comment on the fracking move.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.