Developing shale gas in the UK could draw in £33bn of investment and create tens of thousands of jobs, a report for the industry has claimed.
The study estimates that drilling up to 4,000 wells for shale gas, which is exploited by controversial “fracking”, over 18 years would create 64,000 jobs directly linked to exploration sites, in the supply chain or in supporting services.
Geological studies suggest large areas of Yorkshire could have significant potential for shale gas mining.
But while companies have conducted underground testing in the region, there has yet to be a formal application for full fracking operations.
The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this year that anti-fracking campaigners are already working to block companies from fracking in the region.
Councils in North Yorkshire have been consulting the public on how they should deal with mining operations, including fracking, in future.
The new study for the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), the body representing oil and gas exploration firms, says billions of pounds of investment would be needed to provide specialised equipment, steel, rig manufacturing and waste, storage and transportation services.
But the UK needs to lay the foundations to provide necessary infrastructure, supply chain standards and skills before developers look overseas, it says.
Ken Cronin, UKOOG chief executive, said: “We are building an industry in this country which will not only give the UK energy security and make a big contribution in tax revenues but will also bring immense benefits to other industries and create sustainable, well-paid jobs.”
But Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “This report is a rehash of rose-tinted industry guesstimates about the economic potential of fracking in the UK.
“Paying accountants to tally up hypothetical jobs won’t change the fact that executives still have no idea whether they’ll actually be able to get gas out of the ground on a commercial scale in the UK.”
He added: “Scratch beneath the hype and this report is actually a veiled plea for government and taxpayer support for an industry that has stalled before even taking off.”