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Enormous potential: The areas marked in red show locations where it would be possible to extract shale gas 

Unnoticed by the powerhouses of the British media, the economy of the United States is rebounding on the back of a manufacturing-led boom fuelled by cheap gas. The American revival is in its early stages, but already manufacturing is being repatriated from China: an astonishing development after decades of offshoring.

The factor that above all separates the US energy market from those in Europe and Asia is the enormous increase in gas production and reserves brought about by the shale gas revolution. Which prompts the question: why are British politicians and industrialists not interested in promoting shale potential at home?

In recent years the gulf between open market gas prices in North America and the rest of the world has widened dramatically. The reason — as is now generally understood — was the development in the US of massive gas reserves trapped in previously inaccessible shale rock formations. The benchmark price at Henry Hub in Texas fell from a pre-shale peak of nearly $13 per million British thermal units (BTU) in mid-2008 to as low as $2.71 in January this year. Since January 2011 the US price has averaged less than $4 while the British National Balancing Point (NBP) price has averaged more than $9.

Open market gas prices on either side of the Atlantic roughly tracked each other for 13 years from mid-1995 until mid-2008, when they abruptly separated.

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September 1st, 2014
5:09 PM
Excellent article. We must develop our own resources under national security measures to sweep aside local opposition. Putin has crossed to the dark side and the Middle East is disintegrating fast. Time to sweepnaside the nimbys and get fracking. It would be good if the Scots stick with the UK, they have got some know how and could make common cause to safeguard our islands. And let's have a Sovereign wealth fund this time to stop future generations of politicians squandering thùe gains

Michael King
March 11th, 2014
12:03 PM
Excellent Article and the response by Anon is forecastable; as is his mis-spelling of it's.

November 28th, 2013
7:11 AM
I am totally baffled why we as a nation are not facing up to the urgency of climate change, as Eric. Pickles bans a solar development and IGas is allowed to plan the destruction of the environment at Barton Moss. The idea of shale gas being a bridging fuel is totally fallacious as all it does is irreversibly pollute the environment and escalate climate change at 34 times the speed of carbon as has been seen in California. When are MP's going to take care of the nation, educate the population to change their way of life to use less energy, promote green tariffs, get rid of standing charges and reward people who use less energy? As you have 50 billion for a high speed train, you have plenty of money which if you act fast can save the temperature of this planet from rising irreversibly. It is not a party political issue, it is one which asks for those in power to act morally and selflessly. Is there any light on the horizon? I and all those who have woken up and those who are waking up to global corporatism and it's power which has arisen from the fracking issue, would really like to call on the best in you to exercise this change.

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