The Institute of Directors has strongly countered criticism its latest report about shale gas is based on “iffy assumptions”.
In a report published today the business group calculates there could be as many as 35,000 jobs created by a shale gas industry in the UK, which would also cut carbon and give a boost to the economy.
Pointing to British Geological Survey estimates of 5.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in the UK, which are expected to be bumped up later this year to as much as 200 tcf, the report says we could avoid energy price rises because of gas imports.
A handful of firms have permits to explore shale gas in the UK currently but prospects for a full-blown industry are in no way certain. The Government is yet to give full approval to fracking, the process used to extract the unconventional gas.
More than 20,000 wells have now been drilled in the United States, says the IoD, which believes regulators could study the experience of firms in North America to create a safe UK industry.
Dan Lewis, Energy Policy Adviser at the IoD and co-author of the report said: “We cannot afford to pass up this opportunity when there are so many upsides. Fracking has been controversial, but the reality is that with proper regulation it is no more risky than any kind of hydrocarbon extraction – if we overplay the risks, we would miss out on the very real benefits.”
Environmental champions WWF criticised the findings, suggesting they are based on “iffy” assumptions.
Jenny Banks, energy policy officer at WWF-UK said: “This report appears to take commercially driven industry estimates at face value and make some fairly iffy assumptions about the potential for shale gas in the UK.
“Although the British Geological Survey may revise its estimate of technically recoverable reserves of shale gas in the UK upward shortly, the fact that estimates currently vary by trillions of cubic feet highlights why we really shouldn’t be gambling on shale gas.”
The IoD hit back at the criticism suggesting the WWF has set up a “straw man” in saying that we shouldn’t be gambling on shale gas: “We would agree and we’re not advocating that any gambles are made. Developing a domestic resource responsibly as part of a mix of energy sources is not the same thing as gambling.
“If WWF are opposed to shale gas and opposed to nuclear power, one wonders how serious they are about practical decarbonisation.”