Investment in the British shale gas market is being threatened by “scaremongering” green campaigners, according to a leading industry executive, speaking before a government report is published this week on the environmental impact of fracking.
Chris Faulkner, a US executive known as the “Frack Master” in his home country, said the standoff involving shale gas driller Cuadrillla in Balcombe this year had caused concern across the sector with widespread coverage of clashes between police and protesters. Last week those scenes were repeated at an exploratory drilling site near Manchester as anti-fracking campaigners descended on a project operated by IGas in Barton Moss.
Faulkner criticised Cuadrilla’s response to the Balcombe protests, when thousands of protesters attempted to halt exploratory oil drilling near the West Sussex village.
“I did not see a strong message coming out of Cuadrilla during May and June when the demonstrations were taking place. The reaction instead seemed to be to put up a prison fence. Does that create a situation where people would like to come and invest large sums of capital? No, it does not,” he told the Guardian.
“The BBC was reporting every day it seemed from Balcombe last summer but what you did not find was the other side of the conversation. Whether you believe that voice or not – whether you join the fracking bandwagon or not, it is right to hear both sides of the argument. I don’t think the industry generally has done enough.”
Faulkner is chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation, which is considering investing in British fracking projects. But the company is holding back until it is convinced the controversial drilling technique has the support of the political establishment. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – involves pumping sand, chemicals and water underground at high pressure to extract shale gas trapped in rocks.