The government wants Britain to export its approach to fracking around the world, the energy minister Claire Perry has told the shale gas industry.
Details of Perry having a private meeting with fracking firms have emerged, as the 17th minor earthquake was recorded since the shale company Cuadrilla began fracking near Blackpool earlier this month.
Perry and officials met with all the key shale players – Cuadrilla, Ineos, iGas and Third Energy – along with oil and gas companies including BP on 21 May. While her meeting with wind power executives on the same day was recorded on an official transparency register, the shale event was not.
Minutes of the shale meeting, which were eventually released under freedom of information rules, reveal:
Perry hopes to “create a ‘UK model’ for shale gas extraction which can be exported around the world”.
The UK plans to “make a virtue” of the industry’s regulation to help “export expertise abroad”.
The government will make the case for shale gas to “get past myths on the topic”.
Gas, including that extracted from shale wells, is seen as a key part of the future energy mix.
Friends of the Earth questioned the lack of transparency and called for a halt to fracking.
“There is no model of fossil fuel extraction that we should be pursuing, much less trying to sell globally,” the FoE campaigner Rose Dickinson said.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “You can see why the government has attempted to withhold information about this meeting, as the notes reveal they are working hand in glove with the fracking industry to weaken regulations and planning protections to prop up an industry which the companies themselves acknowledge is commercially difficult.
“Not content with undermining the UK’s own climate change targets, the government seem intent on wrecking the efforts of other countries by exporting the ‘UK model’ of fracking around the world.”
The extent of public opposition to fracking was acknowledged in the meeting, with senior officials and the minister saying energy policy should not be made “on the basis of those groups who shout the loudest”.
When asked what would be considered a success, Perry said “several wells in production” and a “line of sight to commerciality”.
The industry is a long way from that point. Cuadrilla has only just begun exploratory fracking on two horizontal shale wells to test whether enough gas flows for the company to consider raising more finance and moving to commercial production.
What the UK could export to the world on fracking is unclear, though the government has argued that operators will be more heavily regulated than elsewhere. The US is the world leader in fracking, which is dominated by American companies, including oil services firms such as Schlumberger, which is undertaking Cuadrilla’s fracking outside Blackpool.
The shale roundtable in May was part of an industry lobbying drive in the spring, with Cuadrilla and Ineos also having separate meetings with Perry. In March, the business secretary, Greg Clark, met Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos and the UK’s richest person, to discuss shale gas.
In May, the government announced plans to fast-track shale wells through the planning system, in which Ineos has been mired.
BP was invited to the shale meeting but does not hold a stake in any UK fracking firms and is understood to not have any plans for shale gas extraction in Britain.
The attendees and minutes of the roundtable were initially redacted and held back but eventually released after an appeal by the campaigner Richard Bales.