Joanne Leng: UK could follow in the footsteps of US shale gas market

Joanne Leng, deputy chief executive, NOF Energy, gives her views on the fracking debate

Joanne Leng
Joanne Leng

There is no doubt that this year the UK onshore gas market will establish a louder voice in the energy debate.

Many in this country have seen the impact that the recovery of shale gas resources have had on the US economy and are keen to unlock the potential of the considerable resources that are understood to be held beneath the British Isles.

The US has seen an extraordinary boom in shale gas production since the early 2000s. Shale gas now accounts for 30% of total gas consumption in the US compared to just 1% in 2000.

The increased production and availability of gas has also meant lower demand for imports. Since 2007 the country has gone from being the world’s largest importer of gas to being largely self-sufficient. The industry also supports 600,000 jobs, which is expected to rise to 870,000 by 2035.

There is no reason why the UK cannot follow in the footsteps of the US shale gas market, albeit on a relatively smaller scale; however, plenty of work needs to be done to ensure the UK is able to create a robust and sustainable industry if the potential for the sector is realised.

There is a lot we can learn from the shale gas industry in the US - not only from how the industry has successfully recovered and utilised the country’s resources, but also how has it established its supply chain.

NOF Energy is keen to play a role in helping the UK create an effective supply chain for the shale gas market and this is a key period in the development of the industry. It is our aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market that will help support our members, and therefore British industry, in building an effective and knowledgeable supply chain for possible shale gas activity in the UK.

Later this month, NOF Energy will lead a fact-finding visit of UK companies to the heart of the US shale gas industry in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

As the US onshore gas industry is far more established than its British counterpart, there is no doubt we can really benefit from American experience. The visit will very much help to set the scene for British suppliers to better prepare them for the potential opportunities the UK market may present in the future.

Shale gas can become established as a key element of the UK’s balanced energy future, but only with the relevant market knowledge. NOF Energy is among those taking the first steps towards helping this country understand what could be a very interesting future for the UK energy sector.

:: Joanne Leng, deputy chief executive, NOF Energy

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