Friday 19 July 2013

Weekly wrap up: Laying the frack down

There has been a lot of excitement this past week in the black energy sector following George Osborne’s pledge to create the world’s most generous shale gas tax scheme. The UK Chancellor has proposed to cut the tax on shale production to 30% compared with the 62% paid by most of the oil and gas industry in a move that will be warmly greeted by the City.

Shale gas has the potential to transform the energy market in the UK as it will provide a glut of natural gas, boost tax revenues, create jobs, reduce energy imports and push down the price, to the benefits of households and industry. Ministers are very keen to replicate the success of this in the U.S. where gas prices have been halved as a result of fracking. More importantly shale gas can also fill Britain’s looming power crunch and risk of blackouts by the middle of the decade according to warnings by Ofgem. Around a fifth of the UK’s generating capacity is due to retire by 2020 and reserve margins will become uncomfortably tight.

Whilst ministers and industry members are keen to press ahead, they are set for a collision course with environmentalists and green groups implacably opposed to the process of fracking. These groups fear the process can pollute groundwater, release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, blight the countryside, cause earthquakes and tremors and affect house prices.

In response to these concerns the Treasury has already insisted that energy companies must provide at least £100,000 of community benefits for each well drilled by the industry. Ministers will also set out a system of regulatory oversight for shale gas with the Environment Agency, responsible for groundwater, and the Health and Safety Executive, in charge of wells.

The challenge for PRs and lobbyists on behalf of the energy groups that wish to start the process of fracking is to articulate to the country the benefits of shale gas; such as the energy security it will provide and crucially, for the public, the fact that it will bring down household fuel bills. The latter has been such a contentious issue for households during the recession. There should be no complacency in thinking that there won’t be significant opposition but at the same time if the industry successfully communicates the advantages of fracking to the decision makers and to the public, the benefits for energy in the UK will be marked and transformative.

Abchaps have been busy in the City this week including the very well attended Launch Event for Meridian Equity Partners, organised by our Creative Director; a summer drinks reception at the beautiful K&L Gates offices overlooking the city and St Paul’s; the VSO committee meeting; CIPR training in Strategic PR management and guest of Birketts LLP at Lords to watch the Barmy Army deal a killer blow to the Aussie’s Ashes hopes.

Westhouse Securities announced the appointment of Paul Locke as investment funds analyst, who joins from Cantor Fitzgerald Europe. Barclays appointed Matt Walton as relationship director in the bank’s hospitality and leisure team. He joins from RBS and will focus on developing relationships with new and prospective clients. The Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management has hired Daniel Ellis as head of investments for the British Isles, who joins from HSBC private bank.

Fracking: a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock. Water gets pumped into a hole in the ground at very high pressure in order to release the gas from inside.

Obviously the Ashes is home again this weekend, if you travel over to 33 Wimbledon Hill Road to the Carlsberg Sports Bar there waits a spacious bar with huge screens showing the live coverage of the Ashes this weekend.

The famous Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) has arrived in London this weekend, the price is £65.00 but there are only 17 tickets left. Some headliners at the festival are Nero, Chris Lake and Flux Pavilion.

Perfect weather for a round of golf, but cant be-bothered to get a tube with clubs and spend lots of money. Try urban golf, where anyone can walk in and play. There are no posh rules in urban golf, actually not many rules at all you can drink as much as you want you can talk and make as much noise as possible. It is the perfect place to have a laugh and get drunk while playing golf. Also Sunday and Mondays are half price.

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