We can’t ignore shale gas

Nat-Gas

The Washington Post reports that major European companies are queuing up to move production (and jobs and investment) to the USA, to take advantage of low energy prices, especially low gas prices as a result of the fracking boom. The oil industry, chemicals, steel-making.  You name it.

I hesitate to say “I told you so”.  I’m saying that too often these days, not least about the €uro, and about global climate trends.  But I have indeed been warning for some time that our ruinous energy policies in Europe would undermine competitiveness and drive business, jobs and investment abroad.  And I’m sorry to say that I was right.

Here in the UK, George Osborne, concerned that the price of emissions permits under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme was too low to send “the right signal to the market”, has introduced (appropriately, from April 1st) his new Carbon Floor Price.  This insures that while the EU’s competitiveness versus the world is jeopardised, the UK is actually undermining its competitiveness not only with the world, but within the EU as well.  We have given ourselves the worst of all possible worlds, and the FT is worried.

Meantime the US, which had tight restrictions on energy exports, now has so much gas that it is relaxing exports and looking for opportunities.  The doom-mongers are still saying that shale-gas is short-lived, that output from wells rapidly declines, and so on.  But that thinking doesn’t seem to be reflected in US policy so far.

Centrica, the UK’s largest energy company, has done a major deal with a US supplier to bring American natural gas to the UK — a move hailed by David Cameron as an important boost to our energy security.  And I suppose in a way it is.  I’d rather rely on the USA that on Russia and the Middle East, and regardless of political risk, diversification of supply sources is always a benefit.  But it’s ignoring the real issue.  All around the world, countries which were net energy importers are scrambling to develop indigenous resources.  The USA.  Even Israel.  Yet the height of Cameron’s ambition seems to be to find a new overseas supplier.

We really must start, with great urgency, to research the availability of shale gas (and oil) in the UK, and Europe.

Of course I recognise all the problems.  The UK is much more densely developed and populated than the USA, so local environmental considerations will loom larger.  We just don’t know yet how big any reserves may be (although I understand they are substantial).  We don’t know what the recovery costs will be, but they’ll certainly be higher than in the USA.  If we establish commercial reserves, we don’t know how long they’ll last.  And we have major issues with  public acceptance, not least because of the massive anti-fracking propaganda from vested interests and global-warming true believers.

These are all advanced as reasons to put shale gas on the back burner, and to make do with imports.  But on the contrary, they are reasons to get on as quickly as possible with research and investigation and test drilling.

The prize, of total or partial energy independence, local industry and jobs, reduced imports, and lower energy costs, is so vast, we cannot afford to ignore it.  Energy availibility and cost is one of the greatest economic problems we (and our children and grandchildren) face.  It would be a very great dereliction of duty not to pursue every practical opportunity for indigenous energy.  If we don’t buy the lottery ticket, we have no chance of winning the prize.

So come on, Cameron, and Osborne, and Michael Fallon (Ed Davey is a lost cause).  Snap out of your lethargy and get on with the job.

 

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16 Responses to We can’t ignore shale gas

  1. You may have to go to Russia or the Middle East for your gas if #10 doesn’t act on developing UK reserves. Representatives in the U.S. have introduced House Bills 1189, 1190, and 1191 which will eliminate oil and gas exports from the United States.

    I guess we in America would do anything to keep our debt up in the stratosphere.

  2. Mike Spilligan says:

    An important part of the truth is that Cameron (ignore others) doesn’t want to make another U-turn from his now famed – and in some people’s eyes – defaming statement of “the greenest government, ever”. He’s almost right as my thesaurus suggests that for “green”, callow, immature and gullible could be substituted.

  3. We certainly can’t rely on solar, which produced a gigantic 0.4% of our energy last year.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/solar-power-stats/

  4. maureen gannon says:

    Can we have a revolution NOW, are they all fifth columnists out to destroy this nation??

  5. grumpydenier says:

    It grieves me to think that the next government (likely to be a Labour one) will reap the benefits if the development of shale goes ahead. Obama is waltzing around shouting ‘look at me, look what I’ve done for the USA’ when all the time it’s the market that’s moving the States forward.
    I despair at times; when will there be good news?

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    Mr Cameron more and more is beginning to look like yesterday’s man. Greenery is no longer flavour of the month and UKIP, to my surprise, are way ahead on sensible provision of energy and therefore all important electricity.

  7. B Hough says:

    What difference will it make to our `greeness` if we use our own gas instead of European gas?
    I suppose if I had shares in the European gas supply then it would make a big difference to me.
    Sod my country! as long as I support the French & German industries both with windfarms and gas supplies then I am a `2 good european” Could we all read 1984 again.

  8. machokong says:

    pssst… just mention the jobs for the north it will create and watch the votes come rolling in!

  9. Eric Worrall says:

    Very appropriate that the new carbon floor price starts from April 1st.

  10. ogga1 says:

    Cameron,Clegg.Miliband are England/GB biggest hindrance, Go for shale gas,the way North
    Korea is acting up all energy supply’s could be taking a back seat.

  11. We should support all forms of indigenous fuel

    Shale gas essential

    Coal too.

    Wilfred Aspinall

  12. Chris says:

    The loonies are running the asylum.

  13. mrsircharles says:

    That shale gas bubble is soon to blast => Fracking – A Boom and Bust

    • maureen gannon says:

      Have just heard from my MP who I had asked [via mail] why the government was sitting on its hands while we were being shafted by our supposed partners across the water, have been pleased with the answer,
      quote ” I am pleased that the government has announced that hydraulic fracking operations can be resumed providing new and stringent conditions are met.
      This decision has been deeply and thorouly considered following an extensive consultation and detailed study of the latest scientific research availiable …

      One would not expect it to be done without safety being considered first so personally maybe this is the light at the end of the tunnel..

  14. MeeMan says:

    Reports have shown that EVERY time that Canada, Australia or the USA have drilled and pumped out Shale Gas they have contaminated the water-table and drinking water. Every time!

    One last time…. THORIUM NUCLEAR POWER!

    • MeeMan – your response shows that you are ignorant of the facts. University of Texas, Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality all show that shale extraction (and hyrdaulic fracturing) does not contaminate drinking water tables.

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