The import problem

The Oil and Gas Authority estimates that without shale 75% of our gas will come from outside the UK by 2035.

There are some real economic disadvantages to this including a potential hit to the UK balance of payments of around £9bn per annum – over £300 per household – the lost opportunity with respect to the creation of jobs, the fact that energy security could be compromised at any time and also the significant environmental impacts of importing such gas across continents and oceans.

Scottish shale gas’s overall carbon footprint will be 10% lower on average than the carbon footprint of imported Liquefied Natural Gas. The independent report for the Scottish Government by the Committee on Climate Change in November 2016 commented: “Tightly regulated domestic production would therefore reduce the risk that the greenhouse gas footprint of gas supply is high and would also provide greater control over the level of such emissions.”

However, importing gas from abroad leaves Scotland vulnerable to political instability and unforeseen circumstances in the countries from which it imports.
Furthermore, relying on production abroad where the Scottish and UK Governments have no control over health and safety standards or environmental controls raises moral questions. Transportation of fuel also results in significant emissions.

Royal Society of Edinburgh, June 2015