Scotland, about to decide whether it wants to gain independence from the UK, might not be as keen as the rest of Britain to embrace shale gas exploration. After rejecting an outright ban on fracking in May, Scotland left the issue open for debate, yet it was clear from comments by Scottish Energy Minister in August that the Scots are going to take an altogether more cautious approach to shale exploration.
Today, the University of Nottingham – which has studied public perception of shale gas extraction in the UK since March 2012 – showed that Scottish people are weary of exploring unconventional gas deposits; a stance that differs from the intentions of many of Scotland’s politicians.
Professor Sarah O’Hara, who leads the research in the University’s School of Geography, said: “The clear move against shale gas extraction in Scotland is at odds with the rhetoric of pro-independence groups that have suggested that tapping into the region’s unconventional energy resources could provide a colossal boost to Scotland’s public finances.
“An independent Scottish government will have to work hard to change the mind of the country’s voters if it is to deliver on the promises that it has made to the Scottish people.”
This issue is an important one. If Scotland decides to break away from the UK this Thursday, the revenues from oil and gas reserves will play and important role in securing fiscal stability of the new country. If Scotland answers ‘Yes’ to independence it will gain control over 96 per cent the UK’s current offshore oil production and 47 per cent of gas production.
However, the North Oil revenues are maturing and in the face of declining outputs Scotland might want to look towards exploring its onshore shale gas reserves. According to The British Geological Survey, Scotland’s Midland Valley has approximately 80 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, 10 per cent of which might be technically recoverable. If this turns out to be true, it would satisfy Scotland’s energy needs for the next 46 years.
Having said that, the University of Nottingham survey shows that recovering the gas might be easier than persuading the Scots to support unconventional gas exploration.
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