(Lord) Ron Oxburgh
Shale gas is natural gas that, unlike conventional gas, never escaped from the source rock within which it was formed because the source was too impermeable. Modern technology has allowed this gas to be exploited by a combination of detailed sub-surface imaging, precisely controlled directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The application of these technologies is still in its infancy and some unfortunate and weakly regulated attempts to exploit shale gas have been made without making proper use of them resulting in some highly undesirable environmental consequences that include unintended gas seepages and pollution of ground water. This has led to some strong local resistance to new shale gas exploration.
The world’s shale gas resources are probably very large but detailed exploration has yet to be done in many places. However, shale gas has more than doubled US gas reserves. China appears to have even larger reserves. In countries where it occurs, however, shale gas is likely to displace coal as the preferred fuel for power generation and to that extent will reduce the carbon footprint of electricity. However the continued availability of gas may weaken efforts to find sustainable alternatives.
End of Talk Summary for Lord Oxburgh Keynote on 14 June at New Hall Cambridge University CB3 0GT.
Biography for Ron Oxburgh
Ron Oxburgh is an independent member of the House of Lords and is currently chairman of 2OC, Green Energy Options and the Carbon Capture and Storage Association. He was formerly President of Queens’ College Cambridge, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Rector of Imperial College and Chairman of Shell.