Drilling for shale gas could create “tens of thousands” of jobs in the UK and generate vast sums of money for the Treasury, according to a UK-based exploration company.
Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan has told the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee that the controversial process will also reduce Britain’s dependency on imported gas.
Opponents say the method of hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – which involves pumping water into rock to push out natural gas, carries numerous environmental risks.
But Mr Egan insists there are huge benefits, and that everything is being done to negate the dangers.
“The UK is importing most of its gas. In 10, 20, 30 years it will be importing virtually all of its gas,” he said.
” … If [fracking] is successfully developed, it will generate significant tax revenues and employment.”
Bulgaria and France have both banned shale gas exploration, and in Britain it has yet to receive full Government approval.
“The only way we can prove the safety of shale gas exploration is by doing it and demonstrating we can be good neighbours,” Mr Egan told the committee of MPs.
He added: “I think that’s the case for any industry that’s starting up. You have to do it, show that you are doing it properly and then you win trust. We can’t talk the gas out of the ground.”
Cuadrilla Resources estimates that its Bowland Basin site in Lancashire contains as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of gas.
If even a fraction of that is extracted, the company says it could make a significant contribution to Britain’s energy supplies and be good news for the economy, with the potential to create “thousands to tens of thousands” of jobs.
“We have spoken of meeting 25% of the UK’s gas demand. You can’t do that without generating thousands of jobs.
“The oil and gas industry creates jobs across the full range of disciplines: Engineering jobs, accounting jobs, technician jobs, security guard jobs and out from that into the supply business,” said Mr Egan.
Corin Taylor from the Institute of Directors added: “A lot of these jobs will be in parts of the UK that really need them so I think it’s an important part of re-balancing the economy.”