Lancashire For Shale yesterday held a very successful briefing to an audience of interested parties, on the benefits of how shale gas and manufacturing can grow together to create more jobs and secure our future.
The event, held at Burnley Football Club, included four speakers, a short Q and A session and highlighted that Lancashire has a very significant manufacturing sector, including being number 1 in the UK for aerospace and advanced manufacturing, as well as a growing energy and environment cluster, employing 41,000, supported by four Enterprise Zones (the only county in the UK to have four).
A major conclusion from the presentations was that a thriving shale gas industry in the county would help to boost Lancashire’s economy and position our energy industry companies as a new centre of excellence. Lancashire could be the focus of the next industrial revolution.
Furthermore, a successful Lancashire shale gas industry could create new supply chain opportunities for local manufacturing and engineering companies, as well as encouraging greater investment in these vital sectors.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla welcomed guests and emphasised that: “We are making significant progress with the drilling of the two wells at our shale gas exploration site in Lancashire. Whilst the industry is still at an early stage, we continue to put local suppliers first wherever possible and are proud to be employing local people. The future opportunities for Lancashire manufacturing and engineering businesses are considerable as the shale gas industry grows”.
The meeting then watched a video featuring Katie Klaber, a leading energy consultant in the USA, and the former CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an organisation at the forefront of bringing together all the components of the shale gas value chain in America’s leading shale gas producing area.
She commented: “The shale gas industry and its supply chain really took off here in the Marcellus region in Pennsylvania after 2009. Before then, we produced around 25% of our own gas from conventional wells, now, after just about a decade, we produce 25% of our entire nation’s gas, so that gives you some idea of the scale of it here.
“There are a lot of opportunities for local manufacturing and engineering firms, for instance making tanks for water storage and other fabrication. And then there’s all the ongoing maintenance. It’s much more cost-effective to use local suppliers.
“Shale gas here has boosted the manufacturing economy more broadly by making energy more secure and affordable. It’s also encouraged the reshoring of some manufacturing capacity that had gone abroad, and that’s had a knock-on benefit. There’s no doubt it’s been responsible for billions of new investment.”
The next speaker, Miranda Barker, CEO East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, added: “To date, over 500 companies have registered for the Shale Gas Supply Chain portal at www.shalegaslancashire.co.uk and contracts worth approximately £3 million have been tendered, giving plenty of opportunities for local suppliers to benefit from shale gas exploration.
“The revised online site is a major engagement tool for local businesses. This is because the new supply chain portal enables them to register their interest in the shale gas industry, specifying their areas of expertise and qualifications. The site also reflects the latest developments with the exploration programme and the quality and safety standards required.
“Business opportunities and invitations to tender will be updated on a regular basis and will ensure that millions of pounds of future spend remains in the county, supporting local jobs.”
Final speaker was John Baldwin, Managing Director, CNG Services Limited, who informed the audience that: “The biomethane sector is a great analogue for what UK shale gas could one day be.
“Britain has a growing biomethane industry, taking energy from crops, farm slurry, sewage sludge and food waste, and turning all that into natural gas through a process of anaerobic digestion. The gas can then be used to generate electricity on site or be injected into the gas grid.
“Delivering growth has only been possible with the development of an accompanying supply chain. The industry has been built on the support of UK manufacturing and engineering companies and it’s very easy to see how a successful shale gas industry will create similar opportunities for equipment manufacturers and engineering suppliers in Lancashire.”
A detailed questioning of the speakers then took place.