Unlocking Britain's Energy Potential

Onshore oil and gas regulation

The UK is recognised globally as a leading example for oil and gas regulation.

A Safe Solution

If safely and economically extracted, shale gas can develop a new onshore gas industry, which provides local employment and ensures security of supply for the UK*.

We are one of the most heavily regulated industries in Britain and, in terms of onshore oil and gas, the world. In terms of best practice, the UK leads the way. Our industry body, UKOOG, has in the last few years published best practice on well integrity and baseline monitoring and addressing public health in EIAs. Baseline monitoring before any activity takes place is particularly important, as the public will be able to measure the specific impacts of oil and gas operations.

The onshore oil and gas industry has an excellent track record in relation to health and safety and environment protection. Onshore oil and gas regulation in the UK has been recognised as an exemplar by the rest of the world. The industry is regulated by a number of statutory bodies including the Environment Agency (“EA”), Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”), the Oil and Gas Authority (“OGA”) and the local minerals planning authority. In addition, the industry is governed by 14 separate pieces of European legislation.

The following prominent European organisations have conducted extensive recent research into shale and found that the risks of fracking are low, and manageable, and do not pose a significant hazard to public health:

• The Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering;
• The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management;
• Public Health England;
• European Academies Science Advisory Council;
• Scottish Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Gas;
• ReFINE; and
• National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios.

Regulatory and Operational Roadmap
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Who Regulates the Onshore Oil and Gas Industry?

Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”)
The HSE is the national independent body responsible for monitoring work-related health, safety and illness. The HSE monitors shale gas operations from a well integrity and site safety perspective.

HSE regulations require an independent and competent person to examine the well’s design and construction.

Minerals Planning Authority (“MPA”)
The MPA is part of the local council responsible for determining planning applications for onshore oil and gas exploration and production.

Department for Business, Energy & and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) and the Oil & Gas Authority (“OGA”)
BEIS works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and to promote international action to mitigate climate change. The OGA, which is part of BEIS is responsible for regulating offshore and onshore oil and gas operations in the UK. This includes:

• Oil and gas licensing;
• Oil and gas exploration and production;
• Oil and gas fields and wells; and
• Oil and gas infrastructure.

Environment Agency (“EA”)
The EA is an environmental regulator responsible for the environmental aspects of onshore operations such as air, water and ecology. It issues permits for onshore activities.

The EA and the HSE have developed a joint approach to inspecting new exploratory shale gas operations, to make sure that they are effectively regulated to protect people and the environment.

Watch the EA video on shale gas industry regulation here.

*Source: EY “Getting ready for UK shale gas Report” commissioned by UKOOG, April 2014, www.ukoog.org.uk/images/ukoog/pdfs/Getting_ready_for_UK_shale2_gas_FINAL2022.04.14.pdf.