The decline in carbon energy resources, combined with volatility in the oil market has led to ever more ingenious methods of energy extraction. And one method aimed at reducing business gas prices is the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. Developed in America, fracking involves the rupturing of rock to allow for the natural shale gas to escape. As this process involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep into the bedrock, it is not without controversy, especially when fracking in the North Sea created minor earth tremors in the Morecambe area last year.
On the plus side, there is estimated to be one thousand trillion cubic feet (tfc) of shale gas in the UK – some argue that’s enough to make the country energy self-sufficient and business gas prices to come down. And more is being detected all the time. A recent British Geological Survey revealed that the shale gas reserves around Blackpool were actually 50% bigger than estimated. Such resources could potentially carry huge benefits to all energy consumers, in terms of steady business gay supply and therefore lower costs.
The Government has had to weigh up the two sides of this debate and make a decision. On the one hand they have the commercial interests of the shale gas mining companies, and the associated argument that this industry could create thousands of new jobs; on the other, there is pressure from Europe, alongside the very understandable concerns of the environmental lobby, with Greenpeace arguing that huge swathes of the British mainland might be affected.
After the tremors of 2011, fracking was suspended while the government considered its options. On December 13th, having consulted with the Royal Society of Engineers, they decided to allow fracking to resume, with the caveat that new safeguards be implemented to negate any seismic activity. This is undoubtedly a controversial area, with protest marches already taking place in London. However for many companies the debate distills into one key point – an urgent need for cheap business gas supply. With business gas prices rising each year and no suggestion that they will come down in the near future, small businesses may well be swayed by the nuts and bolts of the economic argument… that harnessing the UK’s shale gas resource will form a cheaper, sustainable energy supply moving, with the desired net result of finally halting the relentless rise of business gas prices.