Monday, 3 June 2013

Significant shale gas resources - near here!

It is not every day a journalist from the FT contacts me and asks for my opinion.  Well its happened today on the back of the announcement from IGas that it has found significant quantities of shale gas 'in our back yard.'

If you are interested in learning more about the announcement I suggest you search both the BBC website - and have a look at IGas's site too.  You may find this presentation interesting as well 

IGas is one of the companies granted a licence by the government to explore those parts of the country believed to contain large resources of shale gas.  One of the company's licences cover an area of 300 sq miles across northern Cheshire.  One of their centres of activity is at Ince marshes.
IGas had previously announced that it had about nine trillion cubic feet of shale gas. It now estimates that the volume of "gas initially in place" could range from 15.1 trillion cubic feet to 172.3 trillion cubic feet, the higher figure being nearly 20 times higher than the previous estimate.
According to the BBC the UK's annual gas consumption is currently about 3 trillion cubic feet.
Andrew Austin IGas's Chief Executive is reported as saying "Our estimates for our area alone could mean that the UK would not have to import gas for a period of 10 to 15 years.  The licences have a very significant shale gas resource with the potential to transform the company and materially benefit the communities in which we operate."
So what is my view on all this:
Well ...
If the extraction can be done safely and without polluting the environment, or harming ground waters, if it can be done without causing earthquakes then it makes sense that the resources are extracted and used.   I can't think of a better place to come and invest than this part of Cheshire.  We are a well connected, highly educated and skilled community that actively encourages business and innovation that chimes with us and respects us.
I would expect IGas and any of their partner organisations to become fully engaged with the local community at an early stage to explain their proposals and how they will protect our precious environment whilst carrying out their work.  I would hope that IGas would approach us from the standpoint of setting out to be good neighbours and a good local employer.  I will be looking for them to communicate with us pro-actively and transparently and learn from the mistakes made by others who weren't so accommodating - at least to begin with in one case!
We can be very proud in this part of Cheshire of the leading role that we have played and are playing in manufacturing and especially in the Petro-Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries.  We are used to mining in this part of the world too and know how to manage its effects so all in all this could be a good fit.  I hope this is simply the next stage in north Cheshire's development.  However before we all get carried away - I will want to be assured that the shale gas extraction can be undertaken safely and with respect for us and our precious environment. I will also want to be assured that IGas will be a good neighbour to us.