shale gas rock

Shale gas to provide economic and environmental benefits to the UK

The extraction of shale gas in the UK could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy costs for consumers, and provide multiple economic benefits, an energy firm says.

Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Limited believes shale gas has the potential to be a “triple win” for the UK, by enhancing energy security, lowering the cost and price volatility of energy to consumers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There was also the potential for an emerging shale gas industry to create new jobs and inject investment into local economies.

The oil and gas company, based in Lichfield, Staffordshire, began drilling to explore for shale gas near Blackpool, Lancashire last year.

Speaking at the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee’s inquiry into shale gas, CEO Mark Miller said “unconventional” meant the type of reservoir, not the techniques used – which were the same as “conventional” oil and gas wells.

“Unconventional” was a term coined by the industry, which meant the gas is stored in the same place it is generated, Miller said.

The company said its fracing fluid was a minimum of 99.75 per cent water and sand.

The rest was made up of around 0.075 per cent Polycrylamide, a friction reducer, which was found in facial cremes and contact lenses; about 0.005 per cent was a biocide used only if the domestic water was not pure enough; and around 0.125 per cent was a weak hydrochloric acid to help open the perforations to initiate frac fluid injection, but was also only used if needed.

IGas Energy also submitted to the committee and said that together with coal-bed methane, shale gas could have “clear positive implications for UK energy security”.

“Onshore unconventional gas supplies offer potential carbon savings relative to gas sourced offshore or from overseas,” the company said.

Campaigners have raised concerns that the process of extracting shale gas could contaminate local water, and Labour has called for a temporary halt to the extraction of shale gas and coal-bed methane until the committee has completed its inquiry.

In the US, some residents in areas where drilling for shale gas is taking place can set fire to their drinking water and have become ill because of pollution by gas and chemicals, according to Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland.

The gas is found in shale formed from deposits of mud, silt, clay and organic matter.

It is extracted by drilling down and then horizontally through the ground and then by “fracking”, a process of hydraulic fracturing of the shale using high pressure liquid containing chemicals to release the gas.

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