The UK makes a strong marketplace for shale gas because such a great number of homes are heated by natural gas.
In a report for the IoD, analysts at consultancy EY calculated 20 million homes could be heated by gas extracted from shale rock under British soil at peak times of production.
That’s likely to be helped by existing pipes crisscrossing the country according to EY Partner Chris Lewis.
He told ELN: “The gas transmission network in the UK is very developed, so we’ve got a very good way of distributing gas.
“Over 80% of our homes in the UK are heated by gas, there’s a very strong market and strong access to market.”
Mr Lewis suggested shale gas companies will want to move quickly if they do hit upon good reserves: “If the developers can prove there’s gas there, they can exploit it and connect it into the grid.”
EY’s Head of Power and Utilities Tony Ward estimated any benefits from shale gas are likely to surface around the end of the decade.
To reach that point, shale gas explorers need to develop test wells, look at infrastructure and iron out the process so environmental concerns are put at rest.
Mr Ward told ELN: “Before we go very much further and start seeing a more commercial scale of operation there is more to be done.”