Daniel Yergin, the premier gas and oil expert in the US has mentioned shale in the past as being so significant because of its sudden emergence.  The sign of a true expert is when they tell of how wrong they were. Here in the UK, we tend to have insecure energy experts in both meanings of the word.They simply can't countenance how wrong they were while insisting against reality that gas will continue to be insecure and expensive because the changes in the US just aren't for the likes of us.  Back to Yergin and lets ask ourselves why is shale one continent's game changer but not ours?:

THE DAWN OF THE SHALE GAS REVOLUTION has happened really fast, and it's happening in parts of the country that are densely populated and are not accustomed to this kind of energy development.

As for the efforts to extract the shale gas, it is extremely unlikely that any of the small amounts of chemicals that are used in the hydraulic fracturing process could go through thousands of feet of impermeable rock into the water supply.

Yergin underlines how the impact of shale energy is still not appreciated:

 People in the debate have not been paying much attention to the economic significance of shale gas. If we were going to be importing large volumes of liquefied natural gas to meet demand, we'd be on track to spending $100 billion a year for that, which would be a significant addition to our trade imbalance. Shale gas in the last few years created 600,000 jobs in direct and indirect employment. There are very few industries in the United States that have created 600,000 jobs in the last five or six years.

The advent of abundant shale gas supplies is bringing back industries that have left the United States, like the petro chemical industry. And it also means lower electricity prices - at least 10 percent lower, and in some parts of the country considerably lower than that.

But in Europe,  we are not allowed to have game changers.  We're meant to live in a world where the mistakes of 2008 curse us for decades to come. But Yergin can see past borders:


Natural gas is really going to be the default fuel for electric generation. World consumption of natural gas tripled in 30 years, and can increase another 50 percent in the next two decades, in large part as a result of the newly tapped shale gas resources in America and around the world.

Clean, cheap and secure energy can, and will, be a world-wide phenomenon. Anyone who tells you otherwise has other, more selfish, agendas.


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  • Robert

    Is it any wonder that the French do not wish to exploit shale gas when they have invested so much in nuclear? Selling the nuclear industry in the UK to the French may have been a very good move in retrospect.

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  • Despite their nuclear fleet, they still use about 50% of the UK's gas demand, perhaps due to more heavy industry and much greater vehicular use.<br />Also the nuclear fleet is getting old, as was noted by the head of GDF/Suez the other day when he pointed out that Europe will need to replace over 600 GW of power generation plant in the next few decades.<br />(By the way, being pedantic, if you are referring to Westinghouse, it was sold to Toshiba.)

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  • There are negligible natural gas vehicles in France, see stats on this site<br /><br />http://www.ngvaeurope.eu/european-ngv-statistics<br /><br />Having said that, still a lot more than in UK!<br /><br />You can't beat natural gas for heating, even in France.

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  • Hey John , I guess you are the CNG guy .<br /><br />Natural Gas looks to be THE solution for heating and cooking (yeah!) into the future .<br /><br />Natural gas can be liquidied for instance by Fischer Tropsh synthesis so that it does not need special containment and would be compatible with the entire diesel fleet .<br /><br />How close is the differential between the price of gas and oil to making that viable now before European becomes a reality ?<br />Currently , would viability rely on favourable taxation treatment ?

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  • striebs


    sorry ommitted word : before European SHALE becomes a reality

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  • Baldwincng


    Difference between oil and natural gas in energy terms is at highest level ever. If you are an off grid consumer you will pay £1.75 per for gas oil....natural gas would be around 65 p/ therm.<br /><br />Pointless to run vehicles on GTL, run them on natural gas instead taken from high pressure grid. gTL is like taking a 50 p piece and melting it down to make a 20.

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  • Hi Striebs. It is already happening. Shell's V-Max diesel is produced from natural gas, not oil, at their Pearl plant in Quatar. They are rumoured to be looking at building another one in the US.

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  • GTL might be a good idea because there is quite a lot of stranded natural gas around. They have a lot in Alaska. so they could convert it to oil and send it down the pipeline.

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  • Robert Berke


    ...or Alaska could convert stranded gas to LNG and ship it to Asia, right around the corner, and make twice as much as they would make selling into the US.

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  • tommie

    Isn't he a director from Riverstone Holding with Lord John Brown?<br />They both got quite a business credential in the energy sector from what i know.

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