Shale gas has a positive impact on the manufacturing industry in the UK.
That’s the view of Tom Pickering, Operations Director at INEOS Shale, which took the first ever delivery of fracked gas from the US last month.
He told ELN: “We produce all of those things that go into the goods that we use in our everyday lives. It keeps that manufacturing occurring, potentially part of a manufacturing renaissance in the UK and that has really been a central part of the story for us.
“It’s providing base building blocks into UK manufacturing. Ten years ago UK manufacturing accounted for 25% of GDP, now it accounts for less than 10%. That’s not a decline, it’s a real collapse but we think that by bringing in low cost feedstock and securing low cost energy, you can keep manufacturing happening here in the UK.”
He added a domestic shale gas industry would ensure security of supply as well as create a skills base that could be taken out into Europe just like the skillset in the North Sea taken out into Europe, Africa and Middle East from Aberdeen.
When asked if fracking is safe, Mr Pickering said: “Yes, it is but what you have to do and what we’ve been doing as we get out to the UK is talking with communities, understanding what the concerns are, taking the time not just to talk about the benefits, not to talk just about the jobs but also to talk about the things they’re concerned about. How you manage those risks but also talking about what gas is used for, the nation’s need for base power supply, all of those elements are part of the conversation.
“Also what a business like ours does with gas, not just the power element or the cooking and heating your home but the elements of natural gas, the ethane that makes the basic building blocks for the things around us for our everyday lives, that’s part of our conversation as well.”
When asked about the decarbonisation agenda, he added the UK needs baseload power when wind turbines and solar panels aren’t generating electricity so gas is crucial and it has lower CO2 output than coal.
Mr Pickering said: “The technologies that are driven in renewables rely on the plastic compounds, rely on the chemicals for solar PV so it’s not about these being opposed to one another, it’s about actually how these things actually integrate in a technology model. Gas, as a provider of that material site, is really very important.”