The United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), the representative body for UK onshore oil and gas companies including exploration, production and storage, has today announced it is expanding its scope.

The expansion has been made to reflect the increased importance of onshore oil and gas exploration to the UK economy.

As part of this expansion, UKOOG has appointed its first chief executive, Ken Cronin, who joins from the communications firm Kreab Gavin Anderson. Mr Cronin has extensive experience in the energy industry working with firms such as IGas, Gazprom and British Energy.

With over 50 different companies holding licences to explore for oil and gas in the UK, the industry is set for a major expansion in output. The Government, in recognition of this expansion, is in the process of creating its own office to deal with all the implications of the expansion of onshore oil and gas production.

Oil and gas has been produced from sites on the UK mainland for nearly 100 years and UKOOG has existed as a trade body since 1996. The UK already has Western Europe’s biggest onshore oil and gas field in Wytch Farm in Dorset. However the emergence of new sources of hydrocarbons from sources such as shale gas and coal bed methane point to a much larger role for the onshore oil and gas industry in the energy mix for the UK economy.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said, “This is a critical time for the future development of the onshore oil and gas industry in the UK with production set to grow significantly for the first time since the North Sea oil boom of the 1970s. The industry has come together to ensure that the most stringent standards are in place for safety, environmental management, exploration and production.”

“My role is to work with companies in the industry and all stakeholders to ensure that the industry can make a meaningful contribution to the UK economy by creating jobs, skills and producing energy that will help British business and households while at the same time working in partnership with the communities it operates in.”

David Robottom, UKOOG Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Third Energy, added, “We are delighted that Ken Cronin has agreed to become UKOOG’s first chief executive at such an important time for the onshore oil and gas industry. The expanded role of UKOOG shows the commitment of UKOOG members to open and transparent dialogue with all organisations and individuals involved in the debate about the UK’s future energy needs.”

“Ken’s background in communications, investor relations and finance will be invaluable as the industry plays an increasing role in the supply of affordable energy to the UK economy in the future.”