UK trails in global race for shale gas

BRITAIN risks being left in the slow lane as the global market for cheap, but controversially extracted, shale gas gathers pace, triggering fears of a ­talent drain.

BRITAIN risks being left in the slow lane as the global market for cheap, but controversially extracted, shale gas gathers pace, triggering fears of a ­talent drain.

The so-called “unconventional” source of gas supply has transformed the energy landscape in the United States and some early efforts have been made to unlock the UK’s potentially significant shale gas reserves.

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However, experts believe that it may take Britain more than five years to ramp up and make a material contribution to the nation’s gas production.

Shale gas remains a contentious issue, with the fracking process used to access reserves blamed for earth tremors, while much of the political ­focus has been on developing renewable energy sources such as wind and wave.

A conference in Aberdeen this autumn will look to raise the profile of the unconventional gas sector.

Colin Welsh, chief executive of corporate finance specialist Simmons & Company International, said there was “massive potential” in the UK but a number of hurdles had to be overcome. “If we don’t take this opportunity to boost our economy, create jobs and meet demand for energy, the opportunity will just pass us by,” said Welsh, who is due to speak at November’s event.