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UK shale gas resources 'could be three times demand'

A report published by the government suggests there could be between 4.32–8.64 trillion cubic feet of shale resources to be developed in the UK.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) report, produced by AMEC, sets out the potential economic and environmental effects of further oil and gas activity in Great Britain, including shale oil and gas production, comparing a ‘low activity’ and ‘high activity’ scenario.

The assessment was carried out in preparation for the launch of the next round of licenses being made available for onshore oil and gas exploration and production.

A consultation will now run until March to consider the findings of the SEA and how this affects shale gas production in the UK.

In a statement energy minister Michael Fallon said: ‘There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place. It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security.’

The ‘high activity scenario’ in the SEA assumes that a substantial amount of shale gas is produced during the 2020s, (4.32–8.64 trillion cubic feet), which is up to three times current gas demand in the UK.

Under this scenario, there would be beneficial impacts to the economy, jobs and communities. Employment in the oil and gas industry could be increased by seven per cent, with 16,000 – 32,000 full-time jobs created.

Local economies would benefit from receiving an initial contribution of £100,000 per hydraulically fractured site. They could then receive a further one per cent of the revenue of each well over its lifetime. Almost £1bn could be paid out across the UK under a ‘high activity’ scenario.

High levels of shale gas production could however have some potentially adverse impacts on the environment and communities, including an increase in traffic congestion, emissions and more pressure on water resources. The SEA notes that existing regulatory controls, including the planning system, should ensure that any adverse impacts are minimised.

Government, which has also set out a series of permits and permissions developers require prior to drilling, will consider all responses to the SEA before any decision is made on further onshore licensing. 

Readers' comments (6)

  • The headline and content here is misleading. The news report should make it crystal clear that on the high end of the high scenarion in the AMEC report the production will be maximum three times the current ANNUAL consumtion of gas.

    In other words, according to this report twenty years of production under the high scenario gives just 3 years supply at best.

    I think it is obvious from this that shale gas is no game-changer. It will not increase UK gas energy security, nor affect gas prices, to any extent at all.

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  • I instinctively mistrust large numbers given to three significant figures when one number is double the other. Plain "4 to 8" would have done. The extra digits are worthless, lending only a bogus gloss of accuracy to a hand-waving guess.

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  • "COULD BE" says it all.
    Nobody knows because all the necessary exploration wells have not been drilled yet.
    My study says there could be only one years supply.

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  • So what our energy minister is proposing is that the government allows production at such a rate that 2/3rds of the gas is exported leaving us in a short time with nothing. This is a repeat of the squandering of the north sea resources. So much for energy security.
    Does this explain the recent cancellation of two large offshore wind farms which would have given us long term renewable energy with very low carbon emissions.

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  • Are the above commentators really engineers or just random eco-freaks?

    Offshore wind was cancelled by the companies as being too risky. The UK needs businesses to supply future energy because it is near bankrupt. Shale gas exploitation at whatever guessed amount costs the government nothing, on the contrary it brings in the government much-needed revenue that pays for other things we need. Shale gas may also reduce energy prices which would stimulate the economy as in the US, and it may give us more energy security.

    Gas from whatever source is absolutely necessary under any mid-term future energy scenario, with or without renewables. For heavens sake, engineers or not, try to wise up about some inescapable realities.

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  • When it comes to predicting shale gas reservers, the phrase "Remember Poland." should always be our thoughts.

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