Results of research into a £33bn investment opportunity for British business have been released by UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG). The interest shown has the prospect of creating up to 64,000 jobs within the budding shale gas industry.
The report by UKOOG titled, “Getting ready for UK shale Gas”, concentrated on an 18 year timespan with an estimated 4,000 lateral (horizontal) wells being drilled within the UK. It would be necessary for the industry to fork out about £33bn in activities associated with the supply chain which in turn will generate work for about 64,000 individuals. Job choices in the industry will consist of those directly involved with the shale gas exploration sites and others that are indirectly connected within the supply chain and support services. However there is a note of caution in the study which reveals that unless the combination of the necessary infrastructure, supply chain standards and skill requirements are in place, developers may search abroad.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking as it is commonly known has been the subject of much debate and the main purpose of the study was to solve three significant queries. These are - With reference to the supply chain and skills, what will it entail to build a shale gas pad in the UK; how competent is the UK to do so; and what is required to fill the gaps and motivate the UK supply chain and skills already in place.
According to comments from Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG and Chris Lewis, Partner Advisory Services at EY and the report’s author, an industry is being developed in this country that will not only provide UK energy with security and make a substantial contribution in tax revenues but will also be of benefit to other industries and create stable, well-paid jobs. The study reveals that the extent of the shale gas opportunity in the UK is impressive, however the Government and industry need to become involved now so that the necessary infrastructure, supply chain standards and skills are in position in time.
Managing Director of oilandgaspeople.com, Kevin Forbes, said that factual evidence has shown that a huge shortage of skills already exists in the Oil and Gas industry, therefore if the job creation figure of 64,000 is accurate, it raises the question as to the source of the skilled workforce that can be hired. The facility of being able to utilise experienced foreign workers would mean relaxing visa restrictions and setting up training and development programmes for the next generation of the oil and gas worker. Results of the study have also revealed the positive spin-off potential from the UK industry, which includes a new market for existing UK businesses, a £1.6bn rig manufacturing industry, special equipment and skills for hydraulic fracturing amounting to £17bn, thousands of job opportunities, facilities for waste, storage and transportation of £4.1bn and a £2.3bn steel requirement in the UK. Ken Cronin added further that many companies in the country would reap the benefits should the UK take advantage of this opportunity, while other countries in Europe develop their own shale gas industry. Although it is still early days there are many aspects that have to be taken into account in relation to working with the communities that are involved, understanding geology, flow rates and the cost base.
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