Your Involuntary Investment in Shale Gas

One of the little discussed issues around the recent announcement that the government is going to throw tax breaks at an industry which insists it doesn’t actually want or need them (see is that it turns us all into investors in this business, as it is now OUR money which is going to be so generously given away.

The difference , of course , between us and Lord Browne here is that we don’t have the choice as to whether we want my money spent on helping their exploration (we don’t) and if they were to get lucky, then we don’t stand to make a fortune like he does from his 40% stake in Cuadrilla. Oh yes, the other difference of course is that we don’t have huge influence over government energy policy as an unelected mandarin appointing non-executive directors to government departments like he does, but it would be churlish to suggest that he might have any conflict of interest there wouldn’t it?

So should we be worried about my imminent involuntary investment in the shale gas industry? Well let’s put it this way if you gave us £1,000 and said we could invest it in any business that we chose on the basis of expected risk and reward we wouldn’t touch the fracking industry with a sh*tty stick. At very best it is a hugely risky business. The predictable decline rates, storage issues, the vagaries of the energy pricing mechanisms and the potential lawsuits from the growing number of those harmed by the industry mean that this is an industry which attracts the moth-like investors who get taken in by the shiny lights and then risk getting badly burned once they are in close. At worst it has been described by others as a giant Ponzi scheme. We think that’s a little unfair but we can see where the comparison comes from.

Our page here has more information on why we believe this business does not deserve government handouts.

if it is as good as Mr Egan promises us then he doesn’t need tax breaks. If he is exaggerating then our money should not be being thrown at his company in this ludicrous way. The government appears not to have done the “due diligence” that any public company would be expected to do before promising this kind of investment. If they haven’t then they have failed in their responsibility to us, the electorate in general and the people of the Fylde in particular.

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