Large scale shale production by the 2020s could boost UK energy security and generate £1bn for local communities, acccording to an assessment by Amec.
In addition, the government has published a regulatory roadmap for shale gas which sets out the series of permits and permissions developers need to obtain prior to drilling for onshore oil and gas. This is to provide certainty to investors and local communities about what the permitting process entails.
The Amec report examines the impact of shale gas on the economy under a range of production levels. A high activity scenario assumes the volume of shale gas produced during the 2020s is three times the current gas demand in the UK.
Under this scenario, there would be beneficial impacts to the economy, jobs and communities. Employment in the oil and gas industry could be increased by 7% with 16,000 to 32,000 full-time jobs created.
Local economies would benefit from receiving an initial contribution of £100,000 per hydraulically fractured site, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in response to Amec’s report.
Almost £1bn could be paid out across the UK under a high activity scenario.
However, it acknowledged that high levels of shale gas production could have some potentially adverse impacts on the environment and communities, including an increase in traffic congestion, emissions and more pressure on water resources.
“There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place,” said energy minister Michael Fallon.
“It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security.
“But we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment, with robust regulation in place.”
A consultation will now run until March.