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Fracking could be worth £10bn to the North West

Words: Sam Waddicor

Shale gas in the North West Ocean Gateway region could be worth up to £10 billion to the economy if extracted, according to a report.

Potential Economic Impacts of Shale Gas in the Ocean Gatewaycommissioned by IGas and Peel Environmental, claims that there is the potential to unlock around five trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the region. This support up to 3,500 jobs, as well as opening up supply chains for local businesses in the Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire area.

The figures are based on developing 30 shale production sites throughout the area, with three in production by 2017. By 2031, some 300 wells – 10 at each of the 30 sites – could be operational. The report also argues that production could create over 15,000 jobs across the UK and make £945m in its peak year with an average output of £466.1m over the 20-year cycle of the wells.

Wider economic effects could include increased direct and indirect tax revenues, reduced market pressure on chemical businesses in the North West, and the potential economic effects from capital investment in new infrastructure.

IGas' chief operating officer, John Blaymires, said: "The findings of this report highlight that the Ocean Gateway region is sitting on a potential £10bn investment opportunity.

"We're looking to develop the capacity from within the region to meet the supply chain requirements so that as many local people and firms as possible benefit from our capital investment. The North West has a huge opportunity to become a centre of excellence for shale gas development and technologies. Over time, local companies will be able to export those skills nationally and ultimately abroad as other nations follow Britain's lead in developing a safe and sustainable industry."

Damian Waters, North West Regional Director of the CBI, said: "Shale gas has a vital role in diversifying our energy mix and these findings demonstrate the tremendous potential that exists in providing a significant boost for the region's economy and bringing much-needed jobs to local communities."