Fracking should be part of the energy mix for Britain and the Government needs to get on with coming up with clear regulation – so says a US onshore gas tycoon.
Chris Faulkner, chief executive officer of Dallas-based Breitling Oil and Gas, was in Britain for Energy Live – a conference discussing all forms of energy in the UK and which featured him and Ed Davey as keynote speakers.
Mr Faulkner, regarded in the United States as the ‘Frack Master’ for his support of the industry, said the UK was facing a major energy crisis and needed energy security.
He said the recent deal between the UK and Qatar to supply liquefied gas showed the state of the energy crisis.
Mr Faulkner said: “The deal is not exclusive. Qatar can sell to the highest bidder. That highest bidder is the Far East and so the UK is getting 38 per cent less of Qatar’s gas than last year.
“North Sea gas is in decline, Russia has turned off supplies to Europe in the past so the resources under the Bowland shale are important.
“The British Geological Survey estimated there were 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Bowland shale. Even if they were over estimating and you could only extract 10 per cent of that. You would still have enough for 33 years gas usage for the UK.”
“It’s a no brainer but we have to find a way of making people believe that this gas can be extracted safely.”
He said his company’s experience in the US showed that fracking across the Fylde coast could be managed without damaging the environment.
He added: “Of course, I’m not saying there cannot be a spill of flowback water or something like that but these issues could happen with any energy source.
“Nuclear, coal even renewables, they all can have an impact in some way, but it is about having plans in place to deal with contingencies.
“The technology we have has developed immensely.
“My company has put in a five acre drill pad with 24 different wells drilled in all directions with minimal impact on the surroundings.
“There are 25,000 wells on the shale where I live. We have drilled under the University of Texas in Arlington even under my home and I still drink the water there.”
He said in the US shale gas added £285bn to the economy, created 2.1 million jobs directly and indirectly. “
Mr Faulkner added if the industry created even five per cent of that in the UK that could be 100,000 jobs.
Asked if his own company was interested in the Fylde he said it would depend on the Government coming up with transparent regulations surrounding the industry.
He said: “I have been to Blackpool many times. I have been in talks with Cuadrilla in the past about possible joint ventures. many energy companies have been to the area.
“But we can only deal with what is known. If a Government came along and changed their mid and banned fracking – like France or Holland – then we could not be involved.
“We need regulations which protect and reward local communities but allow businesses to operate properly.”
However, Defend Lytham dismissed Mr Faulkner’s comments.
A spokesman said: “Even if Mr Faulkner believes he can extract 10 per cent of the estimated resource in the Bowland Shale, with an average US shale gas well in the Marcellus shale producing about 1.1 billion cubic feet, it looks like he is going to need about 120,000 lateral wells.
“At his suggested 24 wells per pad that is an astounding 5,000 well pads. It beggars belief that he could even think of describing the impact of 5,000 well pads with 24 laterals on each as ‘minimal’.”
“With the environment agency having decimated its staff we are extremely concerned they have nowhere near the capacity to enforce the limited regulation.”