Will fracking lower your fuel bills?

Fracking has cut fuel bills in half in some states in the US. Can the same thing happen here? Photo: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

I know there is a lot of political and environmental heat about this issue - but I'm concentrating on a different type of heat. The stuff we pay a fortune for keeping are homes going.

Gas prices have tumbled on the other side of the Atlantic and I have taken a look at Pennsylvania. Five utility companies serve customers there and each has reduced bills due to fracking.

Anti-fracking demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

For example, 500,000 customers of Philadelphia Gas Works have seen the gas price drop from $1.27 per hundred cubic feet (ccf) to 61 cents. The cost of gas for them has more than halved since 2008 - when shale production got going.

To put it another way, an average customer there would save $594 a year.

US natural gas prices fell 87% from 2008 to this April as production from shale fields boomed.

Part of a fracking site in Lancashire Credit: ITV News

So can the same thing happen here?

The simple answer is no. The reason? Look at the numbers.

The USA has something like 862 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. The best estimates for UK that I've been able to get hold of are 30 trillion cubic feet - at best.

I got the calculator out and, even allowing for the difference in population size, we will still be a net importer of gas. So the bottom line is that our bills wont nosedive like in the US.