Thousands of new jobs could be created by developing a shale gas industry in the UK with as many as 2,880 wells drilled across 120 locations a year at peak production over a 20 year period, according to a government commissioned report.
The report, which forms the basis for a consultation exercise that runs until January next year, is a Strategic Environmental Assessment prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by AMEC Environment and Infrastructure. It examines possible scenarios for development of shale gas in the UK. The high activity scenario assumes between 4,32 and 8.64 trillion cubic feet of shale gas is produced during the 2020’s, equivalent to three times the UK’s current gas demand.
This would raise employment in oil and gas by seven per cent, with between 16,000 and 32,000 full time jobs created, Local communities affected by fracking would receive a total of £1Bn for investment.
Adverse environmental impacts would include pressure on water resources, emissions and increased traffic congestion as lorries involved in production took to the roads. The report says however that existing regulatory controls would minimise any adverse impacts.
The government will consider responses to the report before deciding on any further onshore licensing for shale related drilling. The government has also published a regulatory road map setting out the permits needed to drill for onshore oil and gas to reassure potential investors as well as local communities abut the process.
Energy minister Michal Fallon said: “There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place.
“Today marks the next step in unlocking the potential of shale gas in our energy mix. It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security.”
Photo: T Nicholas