British trade group weighs domestic shale against Russian LNG

In a first, a vessel carrying super-cooled natural gas from a plant in the Russian Arctic arrived at a British port.

By Daniel J. Graeber
British onshore energy trade groups are asking if it's better to get gas from the Russian Arctic or from basins at home. Photo courtesy of Novatek
British onshore energy trade groups are asking if it's better to get gas from the Russian Arctic or from basins at home. Photo courtesy of Novatek

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A British trade group said it's better to tap inland gas than be vulnerable to foreign suppliers, as a vessel docked with its first-ever cargo of Russian LNG.

Tanker Christophe de Margerie docked at a British port with the first cargo of liquefied natural gas ever delivered from the Yamal LNG plant in the Russian Arctic. French energy company Total said the vessel left the Arctic facility on Dec. 8.


The Yamal LNG project has the capacity to produce about 16.5 million tons of natural gas. Up to 16 ice-class carriers could be designated to ship LNG year-round to global consumers from the far north Kara Sea.

Ken Cronin, the chief executive at trade group U.K. Onshore Oil and Gas, said in comments emailed to UPI that the British energy sector is already coping with price volatility in the wake of the closure of the Forties pipeline system, which carries about 40 percent of the oil and gas produced in the British North Sea.

"We now see a gas tanker that has come from very far away with all the associated environmental impact of transporting gas thousands of miles," he said. "Surely it is better for our economy and our environment that instead of relying on others we produce the gas from underneath our feet so that Britain has a secure source of gas to heat the 84 percent of our homes that depend on it, a source of local jobs, tax and community benefits while also reducing the environmental impact?"


The British government estimates shale basins in the country may hold more than 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, a level the government said could help an economy with natural gas imports on pace to increase from 45 percent of demand in 2011 to 76 percent by 2030.

Cuadrilla Resources is one of the shale natural gas pioneers in the country, working to exploit some of the resources near Lancashire.

Shale natural gas development is in its infancy in the country, though the British government moved to fast-track the permit process, saying local councils were dragging their feet. Cuadrilla said there is no benchmark yet for drilling into shale basins.

Polling data from July found only about 13 percent of those responding to its surveys said they knew "a lot" about hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Support and opposition was split evenly among respondents.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné joined Russian Cabinet officials in June for a ceremony naming a tanker designated for Arctic LNG after former Total CEO Christophe de Margerie, who died in a plane crash in Moscow in 2014

The first train, the facility that converts gas to the liquid form, went into production in early December. Two more trains will be in service by 2019.


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