Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is Shale Gas the 21st Century's Holy Grail?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is Shale Gas the 21st Century's Holy Grail?

Article excerpt

Byline: SHARE WATCH Lucinda Beaumont

THE UK is running out of energy. And very rapidly indeed, if the chief executive of Ofgem is to be believed.

Sadly, the days when we enjoyed self-sufficiency from North Sea oil and gas, backed up by efficient nuclear power stations, are long gone.

Instead, experts are warning that an increasing over-reliance on imported gas will push energy bills up dramatically in British homes over the next few years.

The statistics are perturbing. In 2000, the UK produced 13% more gas than was consumed, with the excess available to export.

However, since this time, the so-called "dash for gas" meant that in 2011, we consumed more than double what we produced and have been forced to import the difference at vastly inflated prices as Britain is paying some of the world's highest wholesale gas prices.

Currently, gas is used to generate around 40% of our electricity and if we continue in this fashion, then by 2030, imports are projected to increase to 74% of our consumption. This would leave households very exposed to price fluctuations in the global market with potentially disastrous consequences.

So what can we do about it? Fortunately, the UK is sitting on potentially huge quantities of our own as yet untapped shale gas which may help support a cheaper, cleaner and more robust energy source to heat our homes for years while also providing a major economic boost. It has been suggested that the potential availability of inexpensive and plentiful gas could offer an attractive way to help diminish three of Britain's biggest energy challenges at the same time - lowering energy bills, reducing carbon emissions and enhancing energy security.

For the past few years, the US has been enjoying something of a shale boom which has dramatically reduced the country's dependence on energy imports, allowing it to consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas for many years and produce more gas than it consumes. …

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