The report on fracking released today by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) & the Royal Society omits a key consideration: the RAE’s ex-President is Lord Browne, Chairman of Cuadrilla, the UK’s leading fracker.
Lord Browne was head of the RAE – co-author of the report – until last year. Browne owns 30% of Cuadrilla and works inside government as a non-executive director to the Cabinet Office.
The RAE is also part funded by the oil and gas industry. In the last three years the RAE has taken £601,000 from ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Petrofac (an oil services company) – all of whom have links to fracking (see the RAE’s financial reports here). Robert Mair, the Chairman of the report, is a fellow of the RAE.
In 1992 the RAE awarded a £50,000 prize to 2 BP engineers for their advances in hydraulic fracturing (see p5 here).
The influence of the oil and gas industry on the RAE has not decreased with Lord Browne’s departure. His successor – Sir John Parker – is also a scion of the fracking industry. Before taking over at the RAE, Parker headed Anglo American, which has fracking interests in in South Africa. Parker is a gas man through and through – some of his previous positions include non-executive director at British Gas, Chairman of National Grid Transco (gas & electricity distribution) and non-executive of BG Group (which has coal bed methane interests in Scotland).
The UK government is following a familiar path of dressing up vested interests as impartial advice. In April a government-named panel of ‘experts’ recommended fracking continue – despite concerns over earthquakes. One of the panel was a member of the British Geological Survey, which is partly funded by companies involved in the hydraulic fracturing industry, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, BG Group and Schlumberger.