Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has signed up with both the offshore and onshore oil and gas trade associations in an alliance of leading trade associations to call for a ‘much needed national dialogue about gas uses and supply in Britain.’
With production of gas from the North Sea in decline, sourcing domestically-produced gas in the UK would inevitably involve drilling for onshore shale gas – of which there are considerable reserves in the Central Belt and in northern England.
The call comes shortly after the Institution of Mechanical Engineers warned that the UK will face an unprecedented electricity supply gap in a decade’s time with a decline of up to 55% as coal-fired power stations are shut and nuclear power stations are decommissioned.
Research completed by ComRes late last year found that more than half of the UK population – 55% – want to prioritise gas produced in the UK – including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing – over energy imported from overseas.
The research also found that 70% of the population feel heating or cooking (currently almost exclusively gas based in the UK) are the most important energy uses in their daily life. As it stands, despite the continuing importance of North Sea gas production, Britain has become ever more reliant on imported gas and by 2030 will be dependent for up to 75% of its needs outside of the UK.
At the same time, more than half of British adults – 56% – agree that reducing the cost of energy should be prioritised over environmental concerns, given worries about high energy prices.
The following associations have joined forces to call for a much needed national dialogue about gas uses and supply in the UK. They represent both users and producers of gas, and together represent large and small businesses supporting more than 2 million jobs across the country:
- Chemical Industries Association
- EEF the Manufacturers’ Organisation
- Energy Intensive Users Group
- Oil & Gas UK
- United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas
- Onshore Energy Services Group
- Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce
The use of gas in the UK
Natural gas is a versatile and hugely important source of energy in the UK.
Heat: Gas provides around 80% of domestic, commercial and industrial heat and 84% of homes are heated by gas.
Cooking: 61% of cooking hobs are fuelled by gas.
Electricity: In 2014, 30% of the UK’s electricity was provided by gas both as baseload electricity and as flexible back-up to intermittent renewable generation. At 4.40pm on 19 January 2016, for example, wind was only providing 0.09 GW of power, while gas provided 22.1 GW
Manufacturing: 500,000 jobs in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries depend on gas (including ethane and propane) as a raw material , which is used to make almost anything – including clothing, plastics, toothpaste, medicines, cosmetics, adhesives and tyres.
Agriculture: Gas is one of the main components of ammonia, used in nitrogen-based fertilisers which are spread on 75% of British farmland to help grow food.
Recycling: Glass recycling furnaces use 1 million cubic metres of gas every day to provide the heat needed to melt down the glass.
Nick Sturgeon, Energy Director, Chemical Industries Association, said: “This research highlights that the UK population is incredibly dependent on gas and is increasingly conscious of environment issues.
“The UK population relates the need for gas in their daily lives to the need for the UK to deliver its own supply from both onshore and offshore. As an industry we need to do more to ensure we explain the value of gas to the economy and the environment.
“Gas heats 84% of our homes, produces 30% of our electricity and is an essential ingredient in everyday items such as mobile phones and toothbrushes.”
Katharine Peacock, Managing Director of ComRes, added: “There is limited public awareness about the extent of the UK’s reliance on gas imports. However, just more than half of Britons agree that we should prioritise using gas produced in the UK, including shale gas, produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas.”