Engineers welcome lift on fracking ban
The government's decision to allow exploration of potential shale gas reserves to proceed has been welcomed by engineers, who say it could have major environmental benefits.
Professor John Loughhead, from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said the ability to exploit shale gas could dramatically increase accessible UK reserves of the cleanest fossil energy and described it as an economic opportunity that could not be ignored.
"There is no doubt that it is possible to recover shale gas safely, and in an environmentally acceptable way," he noted. "If successful, it is likely to eventually displace coal from the UK's energy supply, and make more gas available to do the same elsewhere in the world, which has major environmental benefits."
In September this year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) said the exploitation of UK shale gas resources had the potential to create 'thousands' of engineering jobs over the next decade.
In a policy statement circulated to parliamentarians, the institution said 4,200 jobs per year could be created over a ten year drill programme, with 1,300 created annually in Lancashire alone.
It also suggested that the engineering skills could then be sold abroad, just as the oil and gas experience built up in North Sea oilfields is now being sold across the world.
"UK shale gas could make a helpful contribution to the UK's energy security for the next two centuries, but it is not the silver bullet many claim it is," said the IMechE's head of energy and environment, Dr Tim Fox. "It is unlikely to have a major impact on energy prices and the possibility that the UK might ever achieve self-sufficiency in gas is remote."
Steve Radley, director of policy at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, described shale gas as a 'game changing' resource.
He commented: "In the US it has slashed energy prices and helped spur a re-industrialisation. As we continue to struggle to rebalance our economy and balance our books, we cannot ignore this potentially significant resource. Well-regulated exploration is the sensible approach."
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