Huge reserves of a controversial natural resource linked to a possible economic boom in neighbouring Lancashire could be located underneath Yorkshire and the Humber.
Chief executive Hugh Mackay told Insider Europa was adopting a “watching brief” to assess the government’s appetite for shale gas and how best to exploit the company’s licence for a giant Humber Basin field.
Europa jointly owns a licence with Egdon Resources for a 600 sq km Humber Basin reserve, stretching from Grimsby to north of Scunthorpe, which it holds primarily for its conventional (oil and gas) hydrocarbon potential.
However, the company has noted the basin shares the same geology as the Cuadrilla reserve in Lancashire where the presence of up to 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas has been identified.
Drilling for the Cuadrilla reserve has been linked to the creation of more than 1,500 jobs and a £6bn economic boom.
“At the moment, it’s fair to say, we’re just watching what Cuadrilla Resources are doing in Blackpool,” said Mackay.
“We’re aware it’s quite controversial and we are going to watch and see how things develop.”
That controversy relates to the “fracking” extraction process which the British Geological Survey (BGS) recently concluded caused earthquake tremors in Lancashire when used by Cuadrilla.
“It’s something for the British government and people to decide if they are interested in obtaining gas from shale gas then the licence in the Humber area is potentially well located for it,” said Mackay.
“The techniques for developing shale gas are quite specific,” he added.
“We may want to develop them ourselves, we might wish to consider bringing in a joint venture partner or we might wish to consider selling. At this moment we’d want to keep all options open.”
Mackay said the company was aware how “emotive” the extraction of shale gas could be, highlighting that a presidential decree had outlawed the practice in France.
However, he also highlighted the impact shale gas has had on the energy market in the US where use of the resource has risen from 1 per cent of domestic supply to 20 per cent and, he claimed, been credited with both lower natural gas prices and declining dependence on imported natural gas.