Returning from an extended overseas stint to be greeted by a really excellent piece of news. Cuadrilla, the firm that has been drilling for shale gas in the Blackpool area, has announced its initial estimates of gas reserves in place. And it's a whopper: 200 trillion cubic feet. Recoverable reserves will be less, perhaps considerably so: but to put it in perspective, the Groningen field, at 100 TCF, completely transformed the Dutch economy** in the '60's and 70's and will last to 2080. The largest North Sea gas field discovery to date - the Troll field in Norwegian waters - was about 50 TCF recoverable, and has been supplying France, Belgium and Germany since the mid '90s, with many more productive years to come.
Earlier in the year I met some Cuadrilla executives, and I couldn't help noticing that they seemed to be wetting themselves every time they thought about what they were finding. Now it seems they will be able to afford some new underwear.
Among other things, this completely stuffs the logic behind Crapper Huhne's electricity market 'reforms'. The moment Cuadrilla's announcement is ratified to everyone's reasonable satisfaction, even to within half an order of magnitude, that is good cause to put a stop to the entire charade and go flat out for gas.
Pinch yourself, because if this discovery is for real the UK's economic prospects are transformed. It really could be that good.
** some argue this was not for the best, but hey, it's a nice problem to have