Shale gas crucial for U.K. energy security: minister

Source: Cuadrilla

The development of a United Kingdom shale gas industry was today favourably positioned as an “effective low-carbon bridge” amid broader goals to reduce the nation’s reliance upon coal and secure alternative future power supplies.

Andrea Leadsom, minister of state at the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, identified energy security as an essential priority.

“Today we are forced to import much of what we need,” she said. “Our energy security is absolutely vital. It is also vital our energy is safe, low cost and low carbon.”

The minister, addressing delegates at the Shale World U.K. 2016 conference in London, viewed shale as a homegrown solution that would in turn create many thousands of jobs during development and ongoing production phases.

She reinforced that the U.K. had a strong regulatory regime in place for exploration activities, while committing that shale gas development take place in “appropriate locations.” She added she was confident that protections in place for the people and environment are “totally rigorous.”

Shale gas has been subject to much debate in regions of the U.K.—particularly in northwest England—where exploration consent has been sought by Cuadrilla Resources.

Ann-Marie Wilkinson, director of corporate affairs with IGas Energy, identified “quite a disconnect between people” and their awareness of energy sources, uses and what it takes to generate energy within the U.K.

Wilkinson said local issues—among them fears over noise and traffic levels—were understandable considerations for residents, given the U.K.’s geography and the likely proximity of homes to an exploration site.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of U.K. Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG), said issues the industry faced were similar to those of other energy technologies.

“We should all remember that planning is not just a problem for shale, it is a problem for all onshore energy opportunities.”

Cronin noted the significant proportion of wind development projects previously rejected at the local level, adding that the U.K. is witnessing multiple shale planning applications and greater involvement from larger energy players.

“We actually need to show people what we do and why we do it,” he said. “I think we are on the cusp of being able to get some boots on the ground.”