WITH too much hot air from people who aren’t risking their own money in the UK debate over shale oil and gas, it is interesting to be reminded by Weir’s acquisition of Mathena yesterday of just how impressive the shale energy story has been in the United States, where Mathena is headquartered. Earlier this month, Exxon Mobil forecast that North America would be a net energy exporter by 2025 thanks to its domestic shale industry, and that more than half of the growth in unconventional natural gas supply over the next two decades will be in North America.
That would leave Weir sitting pretty. As its new acquisition makes equipment for shale gas drillers, it is an even safer play than the drilling itself, with its attendant uncertainties about yield, lifespan and the volatility of the energy market.
Britain’s shale gas opportunity is still unproven, but as politicians take the first steps towards exploring the potential for a new cheap source of domestic energy, they could do worse than look at the long term opportunities companies are identifying and investing their resources to pursue.