Hard Talk indeed

At 4:30 this morning BBC’s Hard Talk featured Francis Egan being grilled by Stephen Sackur


The video must make uncomfortable viewing if you are a pro-fracker as Mr Egan stumbles through a not very convincing case under some testing questions from his interviewer.

Some highlights:

At 5:26 Stephen Sackur  won’t have Mr Egan’s figures on polling and quoted the May 2015 YouGov Poll figures at him. Mr Egan affects not to be aware of them. Either he is not doing his job or he’s not being totally straight with us.

At 9:40 Mr Egan talks of the 23 states in the USA where it’s been going on with “no er environmental er or health er repercussions“. Really? And which ARE those?

At 11:50 we have the new line from the fracking industry about water pollution. Now that the EPA has found that there is proven contamination of some private supplies they have moved back to a rearward trench and now simply claim that there is no proven case of contamination to “public” water supplies. Watch out for that word “public” you’ll hear it again and again now.

At 13:10 he claims that methane is not a contaminant which may come as news to the scientists at Duke University


At 14:10 he gets a moment of light relief by laughing at Paul McCartney – he knows he’s safe there as nobody likes Macca much since he inflicted Mull o’ Kintyre on us all those years ago, but his relaxed mood won’t last.

At 15:15 he moves on to a bit of good old scaremongering about how the UK is running out of gas, but Sackur will have none of it and slaps him down again.

At 16:00 Mr Egan claims that “the environmental requirements for LNG  have been show, in terms of CO2 emissions to be two to three times what domestically produced gas [inaudible]” Now we’re not sure where he sources that figure from but we note Dr McKay’s report for DECC (which we know he’s read as he tries to use it debunk Howarth & Ingraffia’s methane findings elsewhere in the interview):

As long as venting scenarios are excluded, the data indicate that the total carbon footprint of shale gas exploration, extraction and transmission and use is likely to be similar to that of gas derived from conventional wells in the UK, LNG and non-EU piped gas.

At 16:50 Mr Egan actually admits that we can “in theory rely entirely for your energy supply on imports“which sort of blows his energy security schtuck out of the water.

At 17:20 he really is a bit sniffy about his ex-chairman Lord Browne but perhaps that’s to be expected given that one minute Lord Browne was growling about spending whatever it took to get shale gas happening in the UK and then he suddenly upped and left them all looking a bit foolish.

At 19:20 he really lets himself down by using the cliché of the century “we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good“.  Those of us with extensive experience of listening to shale gas proponents could see that one coming for a good half minute. It’s been used by everybody from Nick Grealy to Andrea Leadsom.

He nearly picks himself up again a moment later with “Gas is Good” – if he’d said it in German you could almost have believed it has come from the Audi PR department and not from London.

At 20:04 he claims, talking of emissions, that Dr McKay from DECC concluded that “natural gas produced from  fracking is is broadly the same as natural gas produced from conventional oil, oil reservoirs. And why wouldn’t it be“. Well perhaps if he looked at the report Dr McKay wrote he might find the answer.



All in all this wasn’t a car crash on the scale of a Michael Roberts or a Ken Wilkinson interview. Mr Egan is too skilful an operator for that but it looked to be a very uncomfortable 20 minutes for the man charged with getting shale gas working in the UK.

It’s well worth a look.







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