27 June 2013, News Wires – The UK’s Bowland shale play holds best-estimate in-place resources of 37.6 trillion cubic metres (1329 trillion cubic feet), a new study by the British Geological Survey has found.
The resources at the play come with a low estimate of 23.3 trillion cubic metres and a high estimate of 64.6 trillion cubic metres, the BGS study said.
The study conducted for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, DECC, covered 11 counties in the north of England, centred around the Bowland shale.
UK Energy minister Michael Fallon said that “shale gas represents an exciting new potential energy resource for the UK”, and that after the estimates “the next step for industry is to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable”.
DECC said technical and commercial limitations meant recoverable volumes were likely to be “substantially lower”, but said the estimates would “give industry and regulators an indication of how best to plan future exploratory drilling”.
Greenpeace rounded on the new figures, claiming its research showed hydraulic fracturing would face “fierce” local opposition and questioning the government’s contention that shale gas could help revive the UK economy when potential production remained years off.
Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced new guidelines on shale permitting and planning that aim to streamline the process.
He has also kicked off consultation on tax incentives to encourage exploration of shale gas areas.
Welcoming the new figures, industry lobby Shale Gas Europe said that shale offered “an opportunity to invigorate onshore natural gas production” in the UK.
Spokeswoman Monica Cristina said that initial exploration to follow would see “industry demonstrate on the ground that shale gas can be produced in a safe and environmentally sound manner”.
The UK government has also brought forward a package of community benefits created by the industry to give benefit to areas where shale is commercially extracted.
Communities near each hydraulically fractured well are to receive £100,000 in funding and 1% of revenues from every production site.
Fallon said the measures would “provide a welcome boost for communities who will host shale exploration and production as well as offering strong assurances that operators will engage with them and work to the highest health, safety and environmental standards”.
A community engagement charter being piloted by the UK Onshore Operators Group is to establish industry commitments to “consult openly and honestly” at all stages of the exploration process.
Operators are to publish annual reports on their community spending, and the charter is to be regularly reviewed.
The BGS is conducting a further study to gauge shale gas potential in the Weald Basin in the southeast of England.
To date 176 shale licences have been issued in the UK, and a 14th onshore licensing round to be launched next year is set to draw significant interest from shale explorers.