UK fracking potential lower than previously thought, study says

21st August 2019 | Commercial Energy

Previous estimates from 2013 for the size of the resource in the UK’s Bowland shale in northern England, which used data from shale in the US, found it could potentially provide up to 50 years’ worth of current gas demand. But new estimates based on lab analysis of UK shale rock by the University of Nottingham and British Geological Survey (BGS) suggests there may be less than 10 years’ worth of gas at current levels of demand.

Fracking for shale gas, in which liquid is pumped at high pressure deep underground to fracture the rock and release gas, has proved controversial as attempts have been made to get the industry off the ground in the UK. Backers, including the Government, claim exploiting the fossil fuel could reduce reliance on imports, secure supplies, help cut carbon emissions and create jobs.


But opponents of the process say it can cause earthquakes, damage the countryside and keep the UK hooked on fossil fuels instead of focusing on renewables to help tackle climate change. The new study used a high pressure water technique that simulates oil and gas generation in deep reservoirs and applied it to shale to evaluate in the laboratory how much gas could be extracted.
It analysed shale rock from two locations, and extrapolated the findings to the whole of the Bowland Shale to conclude that the maximum gas there was equated to “potentially economically recoverable reserves of less than 10 years of current UK gas consumption.”

The lab analysis was compared with data from four wells to validate the method so it could be used to estimate the overall shale gas reserve, the researchers said. Report author Professor Colin Snape said, “We have made great strides in developing a laboratory test procedure to determine shale gas potential. This can only serve to improve people’s understanding and Government decisions around the future of what role shale gas can make to the UK energy’s demand as we move to being carbon neutral by 2050.”

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