Scotland will have to answer some very big questions about energy supply over the next year, a leading industry figure has said.
Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said Scottish and UK households and businesses eat up huge amounts of gas for heating.
Mr Cronin said the government would need to figure out where it is going to get its gas from as the North Sea declines.
The UK is a net importer of gas and its dependence on the likes of Norway is set to rise.
Mr Cronin said: “There are really big questions to answer. A lot of them are around what we’re going to do about heat in Scotland. About 80% of heat in Scotland households is from gas.
“We have over two million homes in Scotland and tens of thousands of businesses using gas. Where are we going to get the gas from in future?”
Mr Cronin said shale gas extraction could help alleviate the problem, as could increasing the installation of offshore wind turbines.
But a moratorium on fracking has been in place in Scotland since the start of 2015 while the government investigates the technique’s potential environmental and economic impacts.
A public consultation was launched in January, and ministers are expected to make a decision on whether to ban fracking permanently by the end of 2017.
Ineos shipped its first batch of shale gas to Grangemouth from the US last year and Mr Cronin urged ministers not to ignore the environmental impact of trans-Atlantic transportation, particularly when there are shale plays near the refinery.
He also insisted fracking “is going to happen” in the UK and said that his organisation intends to make sure the domestic supply chain capitalises.
He said: “In the last few months we’ve moved into an operational phase in respect of shale gas onshore in the UK.
“Permission has been granted over three sites in Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire to start fracking operations.
“There will be a significant ramping up of activity in the next few months, so there is a big need for supply chain companies to contribute.
“We want to get as much we can from the UK so we do not have to go overseas. We want to spend our money in the UK and create value here.”
Mr Cronin was speaking ahead of the annual Southern North Sea Conference and Exhibition in Norwich, where he will deliver a presentation.
The two-day conference finishes tomorrow.
He said that while the area around Norwich had no shale, there was a growing supply chain for the offshore wind and oil and gas industries whose skills could be applied to shale extraction.
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