Programme Paper

Distinguished Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

The paper concludes that there is growing evidence from outside the United States that simply leaving shale gas developments to the market is not enough. If governments want a shale gas revolution, they will have to intervene with policy measures.

Prime Minister David Cameron receives a guided tour of the Total Oil Depot shale drilling site by Operations Manager Karl Fisher and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Austin in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire on 13 January 2014. Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/WPA Pool/Prime Minister David Cameron receives a guided tour of the Total Oil Depot shale drilling site by Operations Manager Karl Fisher and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Austin in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire on 13 January 2014. Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/WPA Pool/Getty Images.

There have been several parliamentary inquiries into shale gas operations in the United Kingdom. The House of Commons Select Committee most recently reported in April 2013. In June 2013, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee announced that it was launching its own inquiry into UK shale gas operations, inviting answers to a series of questions.

Implicit in these was the nature of policy decisions needed to get the best outcome for the country in the context of shale gas. Put simply, assuming the United Kingdom wants a shale gas revolution similar to that experienced in the United States, what policy measures may facilitate this? This paper is based upon the evidence submitted by the author to the committee.

The paper concludes that there is growing evidence from outside the United States that simply leaving shale gas developments to the market is not enough. If governments want a shale gas revolution, they will have to intervene with policy measures.

What those measures might be needs considerable thought. Any policy is subject to the law of unintended consequences. Because of the complexity of shale gas operation, whether in terms of engineering, technology, economics or environmental concerns, this is especially relevant for shale gas.