According to recent claims by experts, the UK’s total offshore shale reserves could exceed 1000 trillion ft3, a figure five times the estimate for onshore reserves. Reserves of just 200 trillion ft3 would place the UK somewhere in the top 20 countries with the largest shale reserves, the revised figure would see the UK rise straight to the forefront of that list with an estimated supply similar to that of China or the USA.
Although the exact amount of the shale reserves that are actually recoverable is uncertain, many experts agree that the figure is highly likely to be enough to render the UK energy self-sufficient.
Melvyn Giles, Shell’s head of unconventional gas and light tight oil, speaking about Europe’s potential shale resources, said, “We have potentially huge volumes present in the subsurface – the volumes are mind-blowingly big … The figures appear to suggest the shale resources are so large that the question is not how much is out there, but how much can be retrieved – how much can be economically assessed in an environmentally acceptable way.”
At present, in order for offshore shale operations to become economically viable, conventional oil prices would have to rise to US$ 200 per bbl. Though this may seem unlikely in the immediate future, some analysts have already pointed out that, “we’re dealing with a finite resource, so it will happen.” Additionally, a UK parliamentary committee stated that, “While these (costs) might be economically unviable at present, ‘uneconomic’ reserves can become economic quickly as technology and prices shift.” One source agreed saying that, “It’s getting cheaper as the industry develops. If costs keep coming down, prices might not have to be so much higher to make the economics work.”
It was announced earlier this week that the temporary ban on onshore fracking in the UK had been lifted. The ban was originally enforced after fracking in northern England was connected to several minor seismic events.
Edited from various sources by David Bizley
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