Government report says shale gas good for energy security

An assessment by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) concludes UK shale gas could help boost energy security 


The report was released during week commencing 9th October, and was an assessment of the security of Britain's gas supplies.

We used to be self-sufficient in gas, mostly from the North Sea, but since 2004 we've been importing more than we produce ourselves. Last year, about 55% of the gas we used had to be imported from abroad, with around a fifth of that coming in ships from Qatar and Algeria and the rest in pipelines from Europe. That sort of dependency on other nations for our gas is bad enough, but National Grid predicts that we could be importing 90% of our gas in the future in one of the scenarios it's modelled. 

The BEIS report outlines the important role that shale gas could have in reducing those imports, bearing in mind that ships can easily be diverted and pipelines can develop faults.

It says that “Developing new sources of domestic supply may provide new sources of gas while reducing the reliance on imports. The government believes that shale gas has the potential to play a crucial role in the GB energy system. It could also help to rebalance the economy and reduce carbon emissions as it is a cleaner source of energy than coal. The development of shale gas could provide a valuable new source of gas for the GB market at a time when gas supplies from the UKCS are forecast to decline.”

It also says that “Additional domestic sources (such as shale) would be beneficial to GB. They could reduce reliance on imports, have the potential to bring economic benefits by rebalancing the economy, and would increase the diversity of supply available to the GB market” and “While our security of supply does not depend on new indigenous supplies, if they can be exploited economically, shale gas [...] would provide valuable additional supplies, reducing our reliance on imports and contributing to economic growth.”

Producing more of our own gas would make us less vulnerable to supply shortages (especially important in winter considering four-fifths of us heat our homes with gas), raise new taxes for government to spend on public services, create jobs and have a smoothing effect on gas prices by reducing market volatilty. And if UK produced shale gas were to displace Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar, it would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 10%.

You can read the report here

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