Shale gas has the potential to create significant numbers of jobs
The benefits to the UK include lower imports, higher tax revenues and energy security
Local communities will see substantial direct benefits
Shale gas has the potential to remove price volatility from wholesale markets
What will the benefits be? Shale gas has the potential to benefit the whole of the UK, not just those communities where it is taking place. The impact of the shale industry will be seen through greater energy security for the UK, lower imports, and higher revenues to the Exchequer.
Local communities which host sites will also be rewarded more directly. In June 2013, UKOOG announced its first industry-wide community benefits scheme. At the exploration phase for sites that involve hydraulic fracturing (fracking) the local community will benefit to the sum of £100,000.
Should the site be commercially viable, during the production stage, communities will receive in total 1% of all gross revenues before costs are deducted. The industry estimates that this could add up to over £1.1bn in a 25 year period or about £5m to £10m per site.
Alongside the direct and indirect benefits, developers will also be paying increased business rates as a result of their operations, 50% of which will go directly back to local councils, again benefiting local communities.
What will the impact on jobs be?
In addition to the very direct injection of cash into communities, operators and the industry as a whole will look to ensure that as many jobs and services are created within the local area as possible. A recent report by the Institute of Directors suggests that for the first 100 sites 74,000 jobs could be created.
Wider British industry will also benefit from the shale gas industry. By helping to manage energy costs for core sectors such as the manufacturing or chemicals industry, growing shale gas production could play a vital role in reducing potential rises in gas prices caused by rising demand from rapidly developing countries such as China and India.
In the petrochemicals sector alone, replacing the UK’s dwindling domestic supply of chemical feedstocks (such as ethane, butane and propane) for which natural gas is a vital ingredient could safeguard up to 100,000 British jobs.