Editorial: Paving The Way For A British Energy Revolution?
On Monday 28th July, the British government opened its first oil and gas on-shore licensing round for six years. Decline in production and revenues from North Sea reserves, coupled with recent instability in natural gas provision from Eurasia has made domestic hydrocarbon production an imperative for the coalition government.
Global players such as Total and GDF Suez have taken an early leap into the relative unknown of UK shale and coalbed methane production, in conjunction with onshore independents IGas and Dart Energy. The hope is that this fourteenth onshore licensing round will entice global E&P companies to take up the gauntlet and turn British bedrock into petropounds.
So far, only a single well has been fracked in the UK, and less than a third of Britons current believe that shale exploitation is a good idea on home soil. This licensing round will open up as much as half of the UK’s landmass to hydraulic fracturing, and further public uproar.
That said, it is estimated that the UK holds up to 736,000,000,000 cubic metres of shale gas. By 2025, projections show that an optimally-functioning indigenous shale industry could be employing up to 70,000 people, producing £20 billion ($34 billion) of gas per annum and fulfilling two fifths of the country’s natural gas needs.
With enough gas locked in British rock formations to supply the UK's needs for at least four decades, the weight of figures may trump sentiment, and the success of this fourteenth round may be the precursor to a very British energy revolution.
Is the UK on the verge of its own shale boom, or will the fourteenth licensing round lead to an unconventional implosion? Have your say here
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