Shale Gas – An unconventional energy future?

Shale gas fields can be exploited via a process known as hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as ‘fracking’. These fields have become commonplace in various countries around the world and could potentially form part of a diversified energy future for the UK, reducing the independence on foreign energy resources.

In December 2012, Cuadrilla Resources were granted permission to resume exploratory drilling of a shale gas field in St Annes, Lytham, Lancashire.

Additionally, Cuadrilla have been granted permission to engage in the second phase of explorations, horizontal drilling, which will enable the company to assess how bountiful the field could be. If the company finds as expected and the claims are independently verified, the field could be worth billions of pounds to the economy in Lancashire and the UK.

Some sources say that the exploitation of the field could lead to a ‘Aberdeen effect’ for the area, where the Fylde coast could be regenerated via new jobs, new skills and investment. The area could become a hub for expertise in the field of ‘fracking’ and shale gas extraction.

The new jobs created could total 4200 a year in the UK, with 1400 of these jobs based in Lancashire according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). The report also suggests that the engineering skills developed could then be sold abroad, just as skills developed in Aberdeen in relation to Oil and Gas are now exported world wide.

The skills required would suit specialists in the fields of IT and engineering and if given the go ahead trigger an increase in requirement for contractors in these fields.

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