The onshore gas and oil industry presents an abundance of opportunities, but we need to act now if the UK is going to reap the rewards.
The advancement of exploration and production of shale gas in itself is a once-in-a-generation prospect, but it is the supply chain needed to underpin the industry that could truly be transformational.
The figures speak for themselves. A report by Amion in 2014, commissioned jointly by Peel and IGas, projected that the industry could unlock £10 billion of capital investment over the next 20 years, and create 3,500 jobs in the North West alone. Peel Gas & Oil has commissioned a follow-up to this research to explore the likely opportunities from the whole of the Bowland shale area spanning the north of England.
In this region in particular, we’re beginning to see an awakening to the potential. The Government has made Blackpool the home of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, with links to the University of Chester. Associations such as the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce are backing shale exploration and extoling the huge benefits it could bring to the region.
A thriving supply chain is needed to support a British shale gas industry. The north of England is ideally placed to become a hub for the industry drawing on existing assets, such as the Manchester Ship Canal and thriving ports, and the wealth of expertise businesses in the area have to offer. The UK has, too often, been one step behind our international counterparts in establishing supporting industries for the energy sector. The north of England boasts a highly-skilled workforce, world-class manufacturers and crucially a ‘can-do’ attitude to mobilise and unlock the rewards on offer.
The opportunities are not just for big business. SMEs have a crucial role to play to facilitate the industry, it is they who will create jobs, deliver essential services and invest in creating the right climate for Britain’s shale industry. Whilst the industry does require new skills advancement – which is why links to education institutions are vital – it also rests on a raft of established services and products. These include the manufacture of steel casing, planning services, water management, haulage and transportation and cementing amongst others.
That is not to say that there is not work to be done. Unlocking the energy prize will take collaboration and a new approach to supply chain management. Peel Gas & Oil is a recently-launched division of the Peel Group, aimed at maximising the economic and supply chain benefits presented by the emerging shale gas industry.
Working alongside current and prospective license holders, Peel Gas & Oil works to fund and deliver early stage well-pad development by drawing on the Group’s assets and skills. With close links to other subsidiaries within the Group – such as Ports and Logistics – Peel Gas & Oil is encouraging investment in the infrastructure needed to support shale gas development in the region.