Why the country needs to back fracking and become energy independent - Charles McAllister

File photo of anti-fracking protestors at Kirby Misperton. PIC: Richard PonterFile photo of anti-fracking protestors at Kirby Misperton. PIC: Richard Ponter
File photo of anti-fracking protestors at Kirby Misperton. PIC: Richard Ponter
With the right policy support from Government, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the East Midlands could become the UK’s energy powerhouse for decades.

As the current cost of living crisis hits families across the country hard, it is absurd that we continue to import gas from other countries thousands of miles away while ignoring the gas we have under our feet.

The independent Climate Change Committee has been clear that we will need gas as part of our transition to Net Zero in 2050. Had the Government not banned fracking in 2019, the industry could have been warming UK homes with UK shale gas this winter while helping to reduce the large increases in energy bills the country is facing.

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The energy crisis has made it clear that our domestic energy supply is in a perilous position. Two decades ago, the UK was a net exporter of energy and yet, last year the UK produced the least amount of energy in over 50 years with a 57 per cent gas import dependency. By the 2030s our natural gas import dependency could be as high as 80 per cent.

Shale gas development has the potential to drive billions in investment into the North of England, creating tens of thousands of well-paid and skilled jobs, as well as billions in tax revenue for decades.

Shale gas companies have also committed to sharing the revenue from production sites with local people. To put this in context, a single shale gas pad could deliver up to £400m in community benefits based on current gas prices.

Polling showed that most people in the North of England would back fracking in their local area if they received 25 per cent off their annual energy bill, which the community benefits offer can deliver. It should also be noted that £100,000 goes to the local community for each exploration site.

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The benefits to the Government’s levelling up agenda are enormous.

If the UK doesn’t boost its gas production from the enormous and world class Bowland shale formation in the North of England, we will lock ourselves into reliance on more polluting and more expensive gas imports for decades. We will be heavily reliant on Liquified natural gas (LNG), shipped to the UK from Qatar, Peru and the USA to meet our demand, with a carbon footprint four times that of UK shale at the point of delivery. To attract LNG, we must send up high price signals to outbid the 42 other countries which import it, with a potential gas import bill of £1 trillion by 2050. Shale gas development would not only reduce the public's energy costs, but it would also help to reduce our carbon footprint.

We must also face new geopolitical realities. The barbaric invasion of Ukraine and subsequent reduction of gas supply from Russia to Europe has created turmoil in the energy markets.

It is also important that we recognise that the impacts of fracking have been massively exaggerated by extremists who have been naïve about geopolitical realities, too inflexible, too dogmatic, and too hasty. Their actions have influenced previous Government policy despite the ‘dangers’ they present having no basis in fact or reality.

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The moratorium imposed on fracking in 2019 was based on a report on the PNR 1z well in Lancashire, in which the largest event was 1.5 on the Richter scale, the equivalent of dropping a honeydew melon in your kitchen.

Government policy must be focused on ensuring UK shale gas is delivered in a timely manner.

Charles McAllister is the director of policy, government and public affairs at United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG).