My fracking study was fully independent, says professor - as campaigners say universities have been hijacked by PR machine

 

The lead author of a report which compared seismic activity caused by fracking to the energy produced by someone jumping off a ladder insisted today that his study was fully independent of big energy companies.

Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, who has previously worked in exploration for ExxonMobil, said it was vital that academics in the field had direct experience in the industry.

The study found that only three earthquakes able to be detected by humans had been caused by fracking in which shale rock is blasted with water, sand and chemicals, despite the drilling of hundreds of thousands of wells since 1929.

But campaign group Frack Off claimed that the peer-reviewed study published in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology today demonstrated that universities had been "hijacked by the industry PR machine" mirroring the so-called "fracademia" row in the United States.

The Durham Energy Institute, of which Professor Davies is director, boasts a number of private partners from the energy sector including the part Chinese-state owned IGas which has raised £23.1m to fund exploration for shale gas in North West England this summer. The company also owns licences to drill in the Chancellor George Osborne's constituency of Tatton.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations to recover shale gas in Lancashire were suspended in 2011 after two minor earthquakes. The Government has lifted the moratorium on the process and is backing further exploration of on-shore shale gas reserves to help plug Britain's growing energy gap.

Professor Davies said the paper was funded by his university and said in the past he had confronted oil companies over drilling activities which he argued led to the eruption of a mud volcano in Indonesia in 2006 and the displacement of 30,000 people.

He said: "I think it is critical we have people who know about the oil and gas industry. We rely on the data from the industry. We do need to be close to the coalface to understand what's going on."

He added: "It is incredibly difficult to get experts to work on things who have no previous direct first-hand experience with the technology or the industry."

Professor Davies said he was "agnostic" over the technology and warned over the long-term integrity of wells and the impact of road traffic on communities affecting by fracking operations.

Charlotte Wilson of Frack Off said: "Claiming that there was no direct industry funding is just accounting trickery. If the people involved are receiving large amounts of money from the industry it doesn't matter what it is claimed to be for, it totally undermines their credibility."

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a languages...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed Randst...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past