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Shale gas and the UK: Are we set for a US-style energy boom?


Shale gas has been a hot topic on the political agenda since 2007. There have been claims that by exploiting the resources we have available, shale could bring over 70,000 jobs and £3 billion of investment.

There has also been a lot of discussion about how shale gas could drive down the cost of energy bills in the UK.

However, we are yet to see any commercial production. Why? Well, the main reason for stalling is opposition from groups due to the perceived environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.

A recent example is the group of landowners in the South Downs National Park that have launched a blockade to prevent drilling under their land and properties.

It comes as the government revealed its plans to change laws to make it easier to drill on people’s land. Campaigners are urging other communities in similar positions to replicate the legal blockade and prevent drilling.

As a result of this and other opposition, Business Secretary Vince Cable has now encouraged people to focus on renewable energy and warned that shale gas won’t be a reality for at least another 10 years.

The claims are a far cry from the other half of the coalition, as most of the senior members of the Conservatives are keen supporters of shale gas and hydraulic fracturing.

However, chairman of Cuadrilla Lord Browne has also revealed that he is concerned that it could take until at least 2019 to find out whether shale gas reserves could be profitable.

Mr Cable did not state that he was against the exploitation of shale gas, but said that it should be considered a long-term resource.

Some believe shale gas will be a better economic proposition than renewables, while others think it will only be complementary. But for now given the levels of public opposition and infighting within the Government, there is no real way of knowing what impact shale gas will have on the UK - we will just have to wait and see.

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