England sizes up shale potential

englandTHE north of England could hold up to 1.3 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, according to a British Geological Survey report commissioned by the UK Government.
The study estimated onshore gas reserves in the Bowland Basin, which covers 11 counties from Lancashire down to Staffordshire.
While technical and commercial limitations prevent the entire amount from being extracted for use, the government is reportedly hopeful that the study will spur exploratory drilling in the area.
Upon the report’s release, the government announced a new package of reforms, with updated guidelines on the planning and permitting regime for shale gas developments, to “make the process for approving development clearer and more streamlined”.
It also introduced a consultation on tax incentives to promote shale gas exploration.
According to a statement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, there are already 176 licenses for onshore oil and gas exploration issued in England, but the government expects significant interest from explorers when it opens the 14th onshore licensing round in 2014.
Companies have already committed to a community benefits package that would see £100,000 in funding for communities close to exploration wells, as well as 1 per cent of revenues at production stage.
Developers have also committed to conducting community consultation sessions throughout exploration, planning and production. As Europe’s largest gas consumer, Energy minister Michael Fallon said the UK could benefit greatly from a new energy source.
“Shale gas represents an exciting new potential energy resource for the UK, and could play an important part in our energy mix,” he said.
“The next step is for industry to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable.”
The British Geological Survey is also working to determine the amount of shale gas is contained in the Weald Basin in England’s southeast.