UK will not mimic US shale boom says report

The UK‘s reserves of shale gas are not enough to make it self-sufficient in gas and will also “not be a panacea for bringing down energy bills”.

That’s the conclusion of a new report that is being sent to the UK Parliament‘s House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the analysis states that the UK cannot hope the mimic the success of the shale gas boom in the US.

It shows that the costs of shale gas extraction in UK fields such as Bowland in Lancashire are likely to be between $7.10 and $12.20 per MMBtu, compared to $5-6 per MMBtu for large US fields such as Marcellus and Barnett.

The reasons behind the price differences include limited availability of drilling service providers in the UK, higher land acquisition costs and the lack of gas infrastructure.

The report states: “Our conclusion is that even under the most favourable case for shale gas production, with production reaching 4.5bn cubic feet per day in the mid-2020s, and low demand driven by a power sector emissions target of 50gCO2/kWh, the UK will not be self-sufficient in gas.

“The reliance on continued imports will ensure that UK gas prices remain tied to European and world markets and so the direct impact of shale on the cost of electricity in the UK will be limited.”

Mike Lawn, head of gas and power for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added: “The US shale boom has widened the gap between energy costs in that country and those in Europe, giving the US a competitive advantage in attracting industry. Unfortunately, the UK is highly unlikely to benefit in the same way.”

The BNEF report comes in the same week as a new poll from independent market research firm Viewsbank revealed that 67 per cent of respondents would support shale gas drilling if it delivered lower bills and 64 per cent would back it if it created jobs.

Around 65 per cent said that they would back fracking if it was proved to be important for delivering future energy needs.

But the research also shows thar only 39 per cent believe fracking will cut household energy bills compared with 42 per cent who think that it will cause environmental damage.

David Black of Viewsbank said: “The fracking debate has been widely aired in the media but it is clear that people do not consider themselves particularly well-informed. Proponents and opponents can both take positives from the research.

“Many remain undecided but there is a definite undercurrent that people are happy to support fracking just as long as it is not in their backyard.”

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