Shale exploration and fracking

Pumpjack in USAPublic relations and public affairs for the emerging shale oil and gas industry in the UK and Europe

Chelgate has been active in the oil and gas industry for its entire 27 year history, including working for the world’s largest oil company for 17 years and the UK’s largest gas company for over five years. More recently, we have become involved in the promotion of shale exploration and hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, in the UK and Europe.

Shale opportunities

The UK faces a huge opportunity – there is potentially more oil and gas in shale in various parts of the country than there was in the North Sea. Other countries in Europe have even greater opportunities. However, shale and fracking has attracted significant opposition across the UK and Europe with both politicians and the public and has an uphill PR struggle in terms of the environment, safety, economic benefits and other issues. We have been working with several clients in this emerging sector to address these issues, and also to assist them participate in the political debate surrounding shale.

UK and EU public affairs

Our public affairs work in the UK has primarily involved helping clients engage with MPs and Peers at a national level, and with MPs and councillors on a local level. There is a great deal of interest in shale in government circles both to support its development and concern in terms of the impact on local communities. We have helped clients with presentations in the Houses of Parliament, with fringe events at Party Conferences, with events involving All Party Parliamentary Groups, and we have assisted clients in advance of giving evidence at Select Committees.

On mainland Europe, where attitudes to shale and fracking are more negative, we assisted organising an event at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to highlight the impact shale has had on the US economy and on local communities across the country, and how that experience may set a precedence for European countries.

UK public relations

More general public relations work has involved organising debates and panel discussions between the industry and environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, engaging directly with protest groups both online and face-to-face, and running a series of road shows. We have undertaken extensive media relations activities covering national and regional radio and television, national and regional newspapers and the oil and gas trade media. Associated activities have included the launch of a book on Fracking, and a television documentary of the impact of shale exploration on communities in the US.

Project communications and PR support

We also offer site-specific planning support and community engagement services through our planning communications division, Chelgate Local. Any energy company considering drilling activities faces significant PR challenges which will require careful planning including strategy development, communications and contingency planning, and crisis management preparations. Chelgate Local can provide political and community audits, to ascertain the nature of the local environment, and then help develop strategies and communications programmes, and contingency and crisis management plans.

We can also assist with on-the-ground implementation support throughout the planning and drilling process, such as door-to-door contact, local forums, exhibitions, national, regional and local political briefing, leaflets and newsletters, and online and social media. Further information is on the Chelgate Local website.

If you wish to discuss shale or fracking please contact Michael Hardware by email or on +44 (0)20 7939 7989.