Unconventional gas and oil can enhance our energy security, provide economic growth and be an important part of our transition to a low carbon future. The Government’s Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO) aims to promote the safe, responsible, and environmentally sound recovery of the UK’s unconventional reserves of gas and oil. This covers the development of shale gas and oil and other forms of unconventional production such as coal bed methane.
Successful exploration of unconventional resources in other countries, notably the United States, has proved an important source of energy. The UK has large shale resources but we do not yet know how much of that unconventional energy is recoverable.
Industry will determine what resources are economically viable, and the Government wants to ensure the right framework is in place to support industry and local communities as this exploration and, in some cases, production, moves forward.
OUGO sits within the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Development Unit. The Unit is responsible for encouraging and overseeing energy development in the UK, including licensing oil and gas exploration and production to ensure we make the best use of our available natural resources. OUGO works closely with other parts of government with an interest or responsibility in this area to:
Make the most of our natural resources
- Ensure we make the best use of our natural resources by encouraging the development of the unconventional gas and oil industry in the UK in a way that maximises the benefits to the economy by improving security of supply, creating jobs, growth and investment, and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy at the least cost.
- Work with HMT to support the growth of these industries by ensuring coherence between the regulatory, licensing and taxation regimes.
Enable development, protecting the environment and safeguarding the public
- Ensure regulation, including the planning and permitting processes, is as simple as possible through all phases (exploration, appraisal, development and full production) while sufficiently robust to protect public safety, the workforce, and environment.
- Ensure policies are in place for safe decommissioning of sites and high quality restoration of the land, without increasing burden to the public purse.
Ensure local communities benefit from development in their area
- Provide a coherent framework to deliver benefit to local communities which have development.
Support public engagement
- Help people find and understand facts about unconventional gas and oil production, and what it could mean if it takes place in their area.
- Support local authorities to engage with their communities on issues specific to their area, helping to resolve issues. Ensure that, where appropriate, projects can move forward with the engagement of the local community
Build our knowledge base
- Support the provision of comprehensive, timely and accurate information on unconventional gas and oil recovery development, commissioning research as needed to fill knowledge gaps and base our policy on the best available evidence.
- Liaise with European and international bodies to share experience and best practice.