Claims that shale gas could significantly drive down UK consumers' energy prices are "wishful thinking", according to a new study.
Research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimated that the cost of extracting UK shale gas is likely to be between $7.10 and $12.20 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). In the US, shale gas extraction costs are as low as $4.54 per MMBtu.
"Shale gas might seem to offer a new dawn of low energy prices for the UK. Our analysis suggests such hopes should be treated as wishful thinking," said BNEF head of economics and commodity research Guy Turner. "[Shale gas] is unlikely to arrive quickly enough in sufficient volume to drive UK prices below international levels."
BNEF also estimates that eliminating overseas gas imports would require 10,000 wells to be drilled across the UK over a 15-year period, possibly rising to 20,000 if flow rates are lower than expected. Britain currently imports half of its natural gas from abroad.
Last week, it was revealed that several backbench government MPs had signed an early day motion from Labour's Barry Gardiner calling on the coalition to set a decarbonisation target for Britain's energy supply.