The United Kingdom’s Energy Security Debate
In a recent article in the Journal of Energy Security, David Cole Executive Secretary responsible for Programs and Administration at the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom delved into the sometimes heated debate on the issue of the UK’s energy security, which in great part reflects global energy policy dilemmas.
The UK’s energy profile has been impacted by multiple factors. Cheaper imports available from countries as far away as Australia and South Africa have undermined the domestic coal industry. Although it is the is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the EU, the UK became a net importer of natural gas in 2004 and is increasingly dependent on Russian gas imports. It is also predicted to become a net importer of oil in the near-to-mid-term future. Thirdly, the UK is on course to lose 30% of its generating capacity from coal and nuclear over the next 15 years as these plants close down. As a result, it is no wonder then why energy and security of energy supply has risen to the top of the agenda across political, economic, energy and national defense agendas.
Mr. Cole comments that energy security has moved far beyond an exclusive resource issue and that what happens globally in terms of geopolitics, effects of climate change, etc. —impacts locally. The convergence of these trends and the inclusive nature of energy security itself (combining both domestic and foreign policy considerations) is precisely what the United Kingdom today faces as a nation.
The article mentions that that advancements in shale gas exploration and development holds promise for enhancing the UK’s energy security. Shale gas production has been a hotbed of activity in the US, and attention is now turning to the UK.
UK producer IGas Energy has announced plans to develop a domestic shale resource extending across 300,000 acres in northwest England. While much work has to be accomplished with respect to the regulatory framework governing shale gas and assessing the environmental impact of its capture, this in principle could add to the UK’s domestic gas availability at a time when North Sea production is declining. Depending on delivered cost, it could also help ease growing dependency on imports of natural gas and reduce the geopolitical exposure this causes.
Source: Journal of Energy Security