The U.K. said fields of shale gas in northern England are twice as large as previously estimated, offering the potential to spur economic growth, replace depleted North Sea deposits and cut energy imports.
The shale rocks under counties including Lancashire and Yorkshire may hold as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said in parliament today, citing the British Geological Survey. While only a fraction of that gas will be extracted, a recovery rate of 10 percent -- similar to fields in the U.S -- would give the U.K. enough gas to meet demand for about 47 years.
The government is pushing for shale exploration to replicate the boom in U.S. gas output that's cut energy costs and boosted the economy. To win support for drilling, which requires the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, explorers promised local communities incentives including a 1 percent share of production revenue.
“The next step for industry is to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable,” Energy Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement. “We welcome the commitments from industry on community benefits. This will provide a welcome boost for communities who will host shale exploration and production.”
David Fuller's view Similar studies in other countries which have conducted them are also boosting known reserves. The key question, which I also asked following Tuesday's lead article on fast developing shale industry, is: “How are other countries doing with their energy policies?”
Impressed by the USA 's rapid progress in producing shale gas and oil, including making the technology safer and more reliable, the UK looks as if it is finally serious about developing this resource. Better late than never, I certainly hope so, because significant shale production would be a boon for the UK economy.