Could Fylde yield gas jobs boost?

An economic consultancy appointed as part of a search for shale gas in Lancashire by energy firm Cuadrilla Resources said nearly 2,000 jobs could be created in the borough.

Cuadrilla spent the past year exploring the potential for commercial shale gas extraction in the Lancashire area by drilling three test wells. The company is extracting gas using a technique known as fracking, which involves hydraulic fracturing of the ground using high-pressure liquid containing chemicals to release the gas. The gas is found in shale formed from deposits of mud, silt, clay and organic matter.

Cuadrilla this week said it had found 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under the ground on the Fylde Coast between Blackpool and Preston.

Darren Wisher, a director at Regeneris Consulting, based in Manchester, said: "Although Cuadrilla estimated there was 200 trillion cubic feet of what is called 'gas in place', we still don't know what eventually will be recovered.

"We've worked on three scenarios but our central scenario is based on 400 wells being drilled over a 10 year period starting from late 2013. The likely labour attracted to that could be 5,600 in the UK with 1,700 of the jobs provided to those in Lancashire. We've worked out our estimates by speaking to Cuadrilla's supply chain during its exploration phase."

In a report for Cuadrilla, Regeneris said a single test well operation, based on 2011 prices, would cost £10.5m. The report added that the total number of wells to be drilled during the commercial phase will only become evident as and when the results of the exploration phase become clearer.

Campaigners against the plans claim the release of gas could cause illness and become dangerous. Wisher added: "I'm clearly aware of those sceptical on environmental grounds. The projects are a great opportunity for Lancashire to become one of the leaders in the shale gas industry."

The government this week said the regulation around gas extraction would assure public confidence was gained before commercial work began.

Between four and six further test wells will now be drilled and the results of the tests known by next summer.

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