The UK Government has announced findings from the first independent study conducted by the British Geological Survey, of the potential volume of shale gas in the Bowland Basinand beyond, which covers 11 counties in the North of England. Scientists from the British Geological Survey have estimated on a central scenario that there is likely to be some 40 trillion cubic metres (1,300 trillion cubic feet) of shale gas in the ground in this area.
While this does not mean that this amount could be extracted for use, the report will give industry and regulators an indication of how best to plan future exploratory drilling, so that they can determine how much of the gas would be able to be commercially recovered. This is expected to be substantially lower than the total amount of gas in place because of technical and commercial limitations on the level of extraction.
The counties covered by the BGS shale report are: Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
The UK Government has also unveiled a package of reforms to enable shale gas exploration. Though it is early days for shale in the UK, it has the potential to contribute to the UK’s energy security, increase inward investment and growth.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon says: “Shale gas represents an exciting new potential energy resource for the UK, and could play an important part in our energy mix. The next step for industry is to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable.”
He adds: “We want to encourage a shale industry that is safe and that doesn’t damage the environment. Development must be done in partnership with local people.”
The Government has announcements new guidelines on the planning and permitting regime for shale gas developments to make the process for approving developments clearer and more streamlined, along with a consultation on tax incentives to encourage exploration of shale gas areas.
Shale gas development is in its early stages in the UK, but there are already 176 licenses for onshore oil and gas exploration currently issued.
It is up to licensees who are interested in shale gas to come forward with plans to explore shale’s potential, engaging with local communities and gaining the necessary planning permissions and permits.
Government expects considerable interest from developers in the 14th onshore licensing round which it plans to launch next year.
The BGS is doing further work to establish the amount of shale gas in the Weald Basin in the South East of England.