We normally take our gas from pockets and reservoirs that accumulate within the ground's rock structure as it is relatively easy to exploit.
But much of the world's gas is trapped as molecules within the hard rock itself and has been, up until now, hard and not economically viable to try and release. According to some the amount of gas trapped in this manner within the earth is enough to solve the Earth's energy problems for the next hundred years or so. It would, they say, also help us reduce carbon emissions as well as the by-products that we endure with oil.
Now though a new form of mining, 'hydraulic fracturing' (fracking), has allowed us to get at this huge reserve of gas in a way that makes financial sense.
This method involves drilling thousands of feet into shale and then pumping a mix of chemicals into it which, when pressurised, creates fissures in the rock through which the gas molecules run into the well then up to the surface.
This procedure has been so successful in the USA with 35,000 such wells that there is now a world-wide gas rush in progress.
Now that a potentially huge field of this gas has been found in Blackpool, Lancashire the first true fracking shale gas well in Europe will be established there.
But there are many reservations over this procedure with concerns over the chemical cocktail being used finding its way into the water table and spreading pollution far and wide. Film maker Josh Fox made a film called 'GASLAND'.
The website can be found HERE. According to the description on the site chemicals like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene are used. Water is also used in vast quantities, 1-8 million tons per procedure.
Its proponents though say that these fears are overblown and it is a safe and well-proven procedure.
But before we just leap in on the promise of cheap energy, let's prove it safe and / or make it safe then use it. We doÂ the energy in the end.