UK steelworkers’ union Community has come out in support of fracking.
The union, which has members across the UK economy including in steel, iron and manufacturing industries, has agreed a partnership with the UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) trade body to promote the importance of domestic energy production and the jobs it would protect through the industrial supply chain.
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community said: “The future development of home-grown oil and gas has the potential to support thousands of jobs through its supply chain, including in the steel industry, as long as it is part of a joined-up industrial strategy for the UK.”
An upturn in fracking would see a rise in demand for steel to line wells and for pipelines to carry away produced gas. Such an increase could bolster the UK’s ailing steel sector if producers choose to buy domestically.
UK’s North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) recently outlined the need for the UK government’s coming industrial strategy to show an integrated, systems-thinking approach that helps link supply chains across sectors in an effort to underpin sustainable long-term growth.
Oil and gas currently supports 500,000 jobs in the UK, and accountancy EY estimates that the emergence of shale gas and conventional fields could create up to 64,500 new jobs.
There has been vocal opposition to fracking in the UK, with concerns over water contamination, missed climate change targets, and local noise. In the face of public demonstrations and challenges, the government has pushed ahead with fracking, though there are currently only two approved sites, with one awaiting a judicial review.
Chemicals firm Ineos demonstrated the importance of competitive feedstock supplies in September when it imported its first shipment of US shale gas to its Grangemouth refinery in the UK. The company is using ships to bring gas from Pennsylvania in a “virtual pipeline across the Atlantic” at a planned rate of one per week for the next 15 years.
“The UK currently imports 50% of its gas needs, and is forecast to increase to 75% in the next 15 years, costing the UK £10bn [US$12.4bn] a year,” said Ken Cronin, CEO of UKOOG.
“We are looking forward to working with Community to provide the public with affordable, home-grown energy and give them the confidence that the industry works in a safe, transparent and environmentally responsible manner.”
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