Regeneration expert says shale gas could be key to future of region’s industry

Stephen Catchpole
Stephen Catchpole

A REGENERATION expert believes the Tees Valley could benefit from opportunities in the shale gas industry.

The Tees Valley may not have a natural supply of the gas.

But opportunities could arise in other parts of the country that our area could take advantage of, said Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited.

He added: “When market opportunities arise, I see it as part of Tees Valley Unlimited’s role to investigate and evaluate what they could mean for the area’s industry.

“Over the decades Tees Valley businesses have built a reputation for evolving and diversifying as new industries come to the fore or the needs and demands of established sectors change.

“On the back of industrial developments, TVU is keen to facilitate supply chain growth, assist with introductions to new markets and identify access to available support and advice.”

He said areas such as Hartlepool were “full with a pool of talented workers whose skills are transferable to new and emerging industries.

“The strengths of the offshore and subsea sectors now are being employed in supporting the offshore wind industry. These skills will remain an asset to Tees Valley as projects in this arena move from the drawing board to reality.”

Mr Catchpole said the Tees Valley needed to “consider the hot topic of the moment - shale gas and what extraction and subsequent processing could mean to the area in terms of supply chain opportunities.

“While there is minimal likelihood of fracking or shale gas extraction in Tees Valley given the area does not sit geologically on natural reserves, there are many other elements that comprise the shale gas industry.

“For example, Tees Valley has a proven track record in supporting the delivery of large scale engineering projects. It is possible there is potential for companies to supply equipment and services to operators involved in exploring and opening up onshore gas fields.

“We also are one of the few areas capable of processing product, storing and transporting on the scale likely to be needed. We need to consider appropriate opportunities where we could be best placed to take advantage of our experience, location and talent.”