The drilling rig located outside of Blackpool on a muddy farm field represents the latest attempt by Cuadrilla Resources to see if it can bring Northwest England the shale gas revolution that has transformed the U.S. energy picture.
According to the New York Times, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, who joined the company four months ago after a career in the international oil industry at giants like Marathon and BHP Billiton, believes there are 200 trillion cubic feet of gas within the company’s reach. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that there may be as much as 600 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas in Europe – enough energy to last about 40 years of consumption.
“That is a huge amount of gas,” says Cuadrilla. He says, even if only 10 percent were extractable, it would be enough to fuel Britain’s current consumption for about seven years.
In order to retrieve the natural gas, a methods of drilling called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” must take place. This is the method currently used in the United States, but the opposition for fracking in Europe is strong. Environmentalist and people living near shale gas sites worry about the effects fracking could have on their communities.
Cuadrilla is backed by a leading U.S. energy private equity firm, Riverstone Holdings. David Leuschen, acting Senior Managing Director, founded Riverstone after an extensive career heading the Global Energy & Power Group for Goldman Sachs.
“If companies like Cuadrilla can make one example work, we believe that bans in other countries may be lifted” said Menno Koch, an analyst at Lambert Energy Advisory in London.
The results of shale gas exploration have been mixed so far. For example, Poland was once considered among the most promising shale spots, but Exxon Mobil pulled out after drilling two wells, claiming the deposits were not commercially viable.
Europe continues to face challenges in this realm, including figuring out what exactly is underground, and convincing the public that fracking is safe.
Source: New York Times