Lancashire could be the headquarters for the next generation of Europe’s oil and gas industry, according to one of the Government’s most senior business advisers.
Former head of BP Lord Browne, now chairman of Cuadrilla Resources, the company behind ‘fracking’ in the county, said it will invest in creating a highly-skilled workforce and a supply chain in Lancashire if it gets the go-ahead to extract gas.
The firm has spent the past six years carrying out exploration on the levels of natural gas locked in shale rock under the countryside.
Lord Browne said Cuadrilla believed there was “a great amount of gas which could be produced safely and securely” in the county.
In a rare and exclusive interview, he said: “I believe this is the source of potentially a great amount of gas.
“It is also a place I believe we could create the headquarters for European oil and gas activity with the two universities (the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and Lancaster) and the industrial heritage already there.”
Asked whether Cuadrilla would look to import skills from the United States, where the process has been linked to plummeting gas prices, he added: “You cannot import what you need for very long, you can import a little bit to start with, but you actually have to build it and Lancashire is the place to build it.
“It is a good place to do business.
“It has a great skill base and we can replace some of the business that might be going from Lancashire to other places.”
Cuadrilla, which has four exploration sites in Lancashire, predicts the ‘fracking’ industry could create up to 50,000 jobs in the UK including 1,700 in Lancashire.
Lord Browne, who led BP until 2007 when he resigned after admitting lying about a relationship with another man, is a lead non-executive director on the Cabinet board.
See today’s Lancashire Evening Post newspaper or tablet app for the full interview with Lord Browne on ‘fracking’.