Even with the current fall in oil and gas prices, shale exploration will still be viable in the UK.  “Shale oil and gas will take some time to bring online, but this is a long-term investment, and prices will always fluctuate up and down. What’s key is the UK can gain independence from foreign gas by developing this massive resource under its own soil.

“The North Sea is suffering because of the current drop in oil prices. It is a mature field, and as such is very expensive to extract, thus making it more vulnerable to these price changes. Shale is relatively cheap in comparison, and could produce equivalent volumes over a similar period going forward. It is an opportunity the UK should not miss.”

Chris Faulkner feels that the two biggest obstacles to shale in the UK are the complex planning regulations and public opposition. Opponents base their arguments on unfounded safety fears, which been proven untrue by US production and confirmed by the highly respected 2014 University of Manchester study claiming fracking can be done safely domestically. Drilling restrictions in the UK are more stringent than the US, pointing to even stronger safety precautions here.

Energy security and shale development have not become issues in the current General Election campaign, mostly because of milder temperatures this winter. Last autumn, with Russia jawboning to reduce gas flowing through the Ukraine, a cold winter could have led to shortages, and energy independence would certainly have propelled up the political agenda. “The UK is at the end of a very long pipeline and only has two weeks of storage capacity if anything goes wrong,” Faulkner will argue.

Chris Faulkner will be speaking at the Shale World UK conference and exhibition being held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday next week (April 15 and 16). His topic will be: “Can unconventional exploration be economic at current oil and gas prices?”