Shale gas exploration, and eventually production, has the potential to deliver a range of benefits to the UK as a whole as well as the local areas in which operational sites are located. These include:
The UK Needs Gas – Energy Security
At present in the UK we import approximately half of our gas needs from overseas and by 2030 this is forecast to increase to some 80%. Renewables, whilst an important and growing share of the electricity market, cannot meet all of the UK’s short term energy needs and gas must play a role over the medium term particularly in heating UK homes and offices and fuelling UK industry.
Over 80% of homes are heated by gas and over 61% of homes rely on gas for cooking and around a third of the UK’s electricity is still generated from gas.
Manufacturing in chemical and pharmaceutical industries depend on gas as a raw material and gas is used to produce all sorts of products from clothing, plastics to cosmetics and toothpaste.
Gas in the North Sea is fast depleting and the UK uses approximately three trillion cubic feet of gas a year. In our licence area in the North West of England we believe that there is 200 trillion cubic of gas trapped in the shale rock and therefore shale gas exploration is a national imperative which can help secure future energy for the UK.
This 2014 report by consultants at EY predicts that a successful UK shale gas industry could one day be responsible for 64,500 jobs and a supply chain spend of over £33 billion at peak.
A Boost to Local Economies
Alongside the direct and indirect benefits, operators such as Cuadrilla will also be paying increased business rates as a result of their operations, 50% of which will go directly back to local councils, benefiting local communities.
Local communities which host sites will also be rewarded more directly. The shale gas industry, through its representative body UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG) has agreed with Government to pay £100,000 to the community local to each exploration site where it has been granted full planning and regulatory permissions to hydraulically fracture an exploration well. Cuadrilla has gone further than this and committed to pay £100,000 per a well drilled and fractured on each site. So for example if there are four exploration wells on a site we have made clear that this would mean a payment of up to £400,000 for the local community.
Should the site be commercially viable, during the production stage, communities will also receive in total 1% of all gross revenues before costs are deducted. The industry estimates that this could add up to over £1.1bn in a 25 year period or about £5m to £10m per site.