Oil and gas research
The British Geological Survey's relocation of an oil and gas research facility should stop until serious concerns about transfer arrangements are met, Energy Minister Jim Mather said today.
The Minister fears that relocation of the North Sea samples used in oil, gas and carbon dioxide storage research from Gilmerton in Edinburgh to Nottingham will damage their integrity.
A number of academics and industry representatives have raised serious concerns and Mr Mather has written a series of letters to UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry asking for the process to be halted until assurances are given over the transfer.
Energy Minister Jim Mather said:
"The British Geological Survey plays a key role in Scotland's energy economy yet it has failed to listen and respond adequately to the concerns put forward by industry, academia, MSPs and the Scottish Government. It has not engaged with its customer base and failed to offer a resolution meeting, despite assurances from UK Ministers to the contrary. Uncertainty still surrounds the business case presented for the transfer and concerns are being raised with me on the safeguarding of the integrity of the core samples.
"I asked the UK Government over two weeks ago to insist on a meeting at Gilmerton and to stop the transfer of these cores until proper discussions are held with users and more information is made available. I have yet to receive a response and will continue to make representations on behalf of Scottish users until their concerns are properly met."
The text of the letter of January 13 2011, from Jim Mather to Charles Hendry is below:
TRANSFER OF ARCHIVE GEOLOGICAL CORES FROM GILMERTON TO KEYWORTH
Thank you for your letters of 16 and 25 November in which you stated that if substantial concerns were raised as part of the BGS consultation exercise (concluded 10 December) that the appointed Advisory Committee would be willing to meet stakeholders (at Gilmerton or Keyworth).
I now understand that both academic and industry representatives have raised several concerns which mirror those concerns I have persistently raised throughout last year. Given the current circumstances, I would therefore like to press for a stakeholder meeting to be urgently held at Gilmerton. This will enable the Advisory Committee to fully engage with the service users, to discuss the findings of the test trials and the procedures being adopted to address the consultee concerns.
It has also been suggested that a practical core handling demonstration would be helpful as part of the meeting, to demonstrate the handling procedures being adopted to safeguard core integrity during the proposed transfer. A physical demonstration would provide valuable and accurate information that would help inform any further decision making and also provide BGS with an opportunity to showcase the robust procedures now in place to address stakeholder concerns. Clearly, the core transfer should not commence until improved information is discussed with the user community and I seek confirmation that all transfer arrangements will be halted in the meantime.
I look forward to continued dialogue with you, to ensure these serious concerns are fully addressed.