Blackpool: the New Dallas?
The Deepwater Horizon disaster proved the dangers of searching for our oil and gas in ever more challenging environments. Oil companies that had been keen to explore in deeper, colder and more isolated waters have been forced to take a step back and reconsider their options.
Their response has been to launch an extraordinary land grab, buying up the rights to explore vast tracts of the US and Europe in search of unconventional oil and gas. From Lancashire to Gdansk and New York to the Rockies enormous reserves of shale gas lurk temptingly close to the centres of population. Recent advances in extraction techniques have launched an industry in the US and persuaded the major oil companies to begin prospecting expeditions throughout Europe.
The advantages are obvious, removing our dependence on the Middle East, cutting back on the costs of transport and transmission. The disadvantages are less obvious but could be fatally insurmountable. In the US shale gas producers are blamed for poisoning water courses and even causing earthquakes.
Exploratory drilling is already happening within sight of the Blackpool Tower so the need to consider the pitfalls and potentially enormous prizes of land-based oil and gas in the UK is urgent.