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back to article UK sitting on top of at least 50 years of shale gas – report

The UK is sitting on a cheap energy economic revolution comparable to the heyday of North Sea Oil, the British Geological Survey suggests. The Survey’s estimate of the potential gas reserves of the Bowland–Hodder shale formation - finally published today – indicate that using today’s technology, the rocks should yield 1,329 TCF …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fuck yeh

Putin isn't worried, with the deal he struck with the Chinese he doesn't just have a buyer - he also contributes to removing the dollar as energy currency (payment is not in dollars).

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Re: Fuck yeh

I think Putin has quite a funny sense of humour based on his recent public comments.

The reason UK energy generation is starting to fall apart is due to it being privatised so no longer being done properly. It might cost the country a bit of money but it is worth it as it seems to be the only way to get truly reliable stuff done.

The National Grid was a good design. We will never end up with anything like that for broadband. Our postal service is going down the toilet.

They could have made the 2015 broadband happen sensibly with a proper control of BT still. (Maybe just the wholesale part of it).

Cheap and Reliable are not a thing that private business is at all good at delivering. They can do super expensive and reliable but that is not a suitable model for things that everybody needs access to and they can do cheap and badly. (Which doesn't matter for some things but does for basic services).

(The amount of money wasted on bailing out the banks could have paid for those industries for quite a long time.)

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Anonymous Coward

You think

You think that this will make a difference to the price we pay?

Oh you poor misguided fools, and in 50 years we go cap in hand and ask the Russians to reconnect us, at a premium price of course.

I suggest we carry on as normal, use up everyone else's gas and then, and only then start using our own.

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Megaphone

Re: Fuck yeh

Don't get me started on the privatised railways.....

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"use up everyone else's gas and then, and only then start using our own."

I absolutely agree from a geopolitical strategic point of view, but meanwhile a lot of people who can't afford to have to pay through the nose to heat their houses.

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Anonymous Coward

caution

About 2 years ago, there were similar headlines about shale gas reserves Poland was supposedly sitting on. And they came from reliable sources, US and others, cross-verified, etc. A bonanza round the corner and the Poles were being served all kinds of silly visions (not least by politicians, who were, as always, sharp to claim credit). Since then, the bubble has burst. Or fizzled.

So... just saying...

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Re: caution

Not so much caution. These are more reliable figures than anything Poland was working with.

Poland's problem was that the government jumped the shark and started to set out all sorts of new taxes and levies before exploration had finished. The end result was that almost all of the exploration stopped because the companies all pretty much said 'well, fuck that then' and left. Nothing to stop our own government from doing the same, and I'm sure that the DECC will be doing their very best to ensure shale gas never leaves the ground.

As I understand it, these are the estimates for the middle swathe of the UK, I'm assuming that there's more out there, the BGS have yet to report on it.

If we do exploit this stuff (as we should) I wonder where this leaves Mr Salmond and Scottish independence. AFAIK much of Scotland's post independence economy seemed to be based on supplying electricity from renewables to the UK. If we don't need their wind, where will they sell it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: caution

"As I understand it,

these are the estimates for the middle swathe of the UK,

I'm assuming that there's more out there,

the BGS have yet to report on it."

WRT you assumption - NO.

BGS are reporting where it is, (potentially).

Other UK areas either don't contain,

or are in relative volumes, trace amounts.

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Facepalm

Re: caution

Well that isn't unexpected and the hype about the 'potential' recoverable CFs in the UK are are just as trumped up as most of the sites in the rest of Europe and the US. The New York Times has a well documented archive on the Fracking theme and a section where this topic is all too obvious. In that collection of letters from Geologists and Fracking insiders there is evidence enough that the license holders like to "pump 'n dump" their claims, leaving the companies who end up trying to recover those 'lucrative' reserves with wells that dry up far too soon and either require additional 'fracks' or have to drill even more densely in a given field, thereby drastically reducing their ROI and wasting the countryside around it.

And you pro-fracking wing nuts.... you keep forgetting about the ecological impact this is going to have on your underground and surface water resources and the impact on your local communities. The thousands of lorries that are needed to bring in water, carry out the 'produced water' (containing high salt and radiation particles) thrashing your already buggered roads. What are you going to do with the millions/billions of gallons of polluted water? Your sewage treatment plants can't deal with the salt content nor the radioactive elements, are you going to just dump it into the rivers and streams like they do in parts of the US? Hell, in the US they are now discovering that the amount of water being extracted from underground reserves is effecting farms and communities across the western states, forcing them to drill even deeper with the risk of still not finding anything. I've seen reports where over 20% of all wells have defective casings and or plugs (to protect ground water from contamination that 'could' be caused by the toxic fracking fluids) within 2 years of operation. We don't have enough potable water in this world to provide drinking water for everyone and you want to risk what you have on short term profits for the gas industry?

Is that something you want in your neighborhood ?

Your naivety continues to astound me.

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Re: caution

Government shouldn't screw this up by putting too much levies / taxes, but also shouldn't (as I suspect would happen) spaff away the windfall. The prime example is Norway, set up a trust for any gas revenue and use it to fund all giant unfunded obligations that the country currently has.

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Go

Re: caution

blackpool is a fucking shithole. A good fracking earthquake can only make it better. As one who used to live in poulton le fylde there is only springfields nuclear fuel that could cause a fly in the ointment.

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"Other UK areas either don't contain, or are in relative volumes, trace amounts."

> BGS are reporting where it is, (potentially). Other UK areas either don't contain, or are in relative volumes, trace amounts.

From the article:

The Survey’s estimate of the potential gas reserves of the Bowland–Hodder shale formation - finally published today – indicate that using today’s technology, the rocks should yield 1,329 TCF (trillion cubic feet) or 37.7 TCM (37,631 BCM, or billion cubic metres) of gas.

Bowland Shale is a rock formation stretching from the Irish Sea, across the Midlands and Lancashire, to North Yorkshire. It’s just one of several promising rock formations in the UK rich in gas. Others in the West Country, South East England, and Scotland have yet to be surveyed and estimated for their potential.

At least read the thing before commenting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Other UK areas either don't contain, or are in relative volumes, trace amounts."

"At least read the thing before commenting."

Try not limiting your reading to just this article or report.

I was referring to the majority of onshore UK.

As an overly simplistic example, the bits not coloured yellow in the map linked below

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/64735000/gif/_64735576_shale_deposits_v3_464.gif

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Sounds familiar

Didn't we used to have 300years reserve of fossil fuels under the north before?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familiar

We have 300 years of coal reserves in the North at consumption rates of the early 1980's I think the benchmark is, but I could be wrong. Now we have all this gas as well. So much for clean energy and renewables. I'd rather we invested in nuclear and geothermal and wave / tidal energy than yet more fossil carbon fuel.

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Unhappy

Re: Sounds familiar

"Didn't we used to have 300years reserve of fossil fuels under the north before?"

Actually that's looking more like 600 yrs.

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Megaphone

Re: Sounds familiar@ Frank 14

"I'd rather we invested in nuclear and geothermal and wave / tidal energy than yet more fossil carbon fuel."

Don't you worry my boy, because UK energy policy is bent on throwing subsidies at wind and nuclear. As a result your electricity bill will double by 2020 (well, a lot more with inflation), and because we've got f*** all gas storage, your gas bill go up by 50%.

The net result is that by conventional measures of fuel poverty (>10% of income spent on energy) about one third of the population will be in fuel poverty, and the remaining two thirds will see higher bills to try and sub them. This is already baked in through DECC's renewables obligations, LCPD closures, capacity mechanisms, carbon price floors, energy company obligations and the rest.

So when your electricity company send you a bill that shows a double digit price rise for each of the next five years, remember that this is what you said you wanted.

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Boffin

Sinking houses

Large areas around there have already sunk several feet from coal being mined from underneath them. What will happen to them when the gas gets taken out?

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Re: Sinking houses

I'm sure nothing bad will happen. Just like when we took all that salt out from under Cheshire.

This is just the same thing but on a larger scale.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sinking houses

Most likely nothing, because it's gas not solid as well as being a very long way down, a few thousand feet, much deeper than coal.

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Re: Sinking houses

Nothing

Coal is what we call a rock. Remove rock and the roof falls in. Especially with the mining techniques used in shallow coal mines. Gas is a gas, most of the rock isn't held up by pressure - remove the gas and the rock doesn't change much.

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Thumb Up

Re: Sinking houses

"I'm sure nothing bad will happen. Just like when we took all that salt out from under Cheshire."

Salt is an interesting comparison.

AFAIK the modern way this is done is to inject hot water and simply dissolve the salt out.

Rather like the way gas would be collected. The "environmental impact" of salt mining would make a very good comparison

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sinking houses

@John Smith 19

> AFAIK the modern way this is done is to inject hot water and simply dissolve the salt out.

It's amazing what modern engineering can achieve: pumping hot water deep underground, dissolving the salt and then bringing the now salty water back up again.

Seems a lot of effort to go to, though. Imagine how much simpler it would be if there were a ready supply of salt water at the surface instead of deep underground.

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Boffin

Re: Sinking houses

"Seems a lot of effort to go to, though. Imagine how much simpler it would be if there were a ready supply of salt water at the surface instead of deep underground."

Sea water evaporation was the process used in Roman times to deliver all the worlds salt supplies.

Resulting in a material so expensive it was part of Roman Centurions annual pay (the "salary").

Salt mining lowered the price of salt a lot

Kind of like gas and fracking.

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Down the tubes we go (again)

> comparable to the heyday of North Sea Oil

And what was done with the massive windfall that came with the revenue from NSO tax revenues?

It was spent on lowering personal taxation to win elections, Pursuing political goals and buying new toys for the military. Compare that with Norway who used their "win" to finance long-term projects for the benefit of the country as a whole.

So, if there does turn out to be another chance at doing it right, courtesy of enormous Shale Gas reserves, would anyone like to guess how future UK governments will manage to waste the opportunity this time?

As an exquisite irony, given the geography of the supposed fields, I wonder if the north of England will actually see any of the benefits (maybe they should declare independence before it's too late?)

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Pint

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

"maybe they should declare independence before it's too late?"

I was thinking the same. If this turns out to be true (and it will only take a year or two to be sure) then Scotland :- you can now leave and Yorkshire can start raking it in.

p.s. Scotland :- don't go far, we will be needing the whisky. Trebles all round.

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Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

I thought we mostly spent it on Social Security rather than the military...

But your basic premise, that a short term bonus will be squandered rather than invested seems right on the mark to me...

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Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

It wasn't quite that bleak. The oil revenues made a big difference to our balance of payments and meant that a lot less money was borrowed than might otherwise have been. It's a long time ago now, but I'm old enough to remember, and our economy was every bit as fucked as it is now, probably worse. We needed every bit of cash we could lay our hands on.

Parts of Scotland made a lot of money out of the oil (and are still), and if Mr Salmond is to be believed, the current revenues from the North Sea would be enough to make a significant contribution to the Scottish economy for many years. If the Bowland is exploited, it could provide a lot of jobs for people in the North East and West at a time when they're hard to come by.

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Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

Exactly, well said sir. Whereas Norway (and others?) decided to have a bit more of a of LONG TERM term thinking hat on and stuffed a percentage of revenues away for a rainy day and or research on replacement technologies / energy sources when the oil and gas dries up. We can but dream that our politicos might have a similar approach this time. There's a lot more oil and gas in the north sea yet, but it's very, very costly to get at just now, so, please, let's create a wee fund to assist us in getting to that in the near future.

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Childcatcher

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

@ Pete2 Agreed, on all points, especially the North bit.

But, of course, we will be ripped of, this is rip off Britain after all.

And as AC pointed out above, Poland's shale gas bonanza was a bubble, this might be too.

Still, nice curve ball to keep the pro/anti green hacks busy when they really ought to be investigating the massive corruption at the heart of the police, political and financial 'communities but are too busy sucking on the teat of the corporates to actually do so.

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Unhappy

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

Not only that, G.O. has already announced he will give tax breaks to those companies exploiting this resource. So whatever revenue will be brought in from this, the UK will see very little of it. And you just know that somehow this will be spun as "green energy" and find a way to attract extra tax from the average person.

Also, 100k incentive to communities - that's half a house. Wow, his generosity knows no start.

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Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

"It was spent on lowering personal taxation to win elections"

If only that was true!

Actually, a lot of taxpayers' money was spent on paying people to do nothing during two recessions (1980-82 and 1989-93). To his credit Lawson did substantially pay off the national debt in between. Norway does not have a large welfare state, because it does not have many Norwegians. .

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Roo
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Pint

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

"As an exquisite irony, given the geography of the supposed fields, I wonder if the north of England will actually see any of the benefits (maybe they should declare independence before it's too late?)"

Sure, housing costs will fall and if they can afford a train fare and two months rent in London they can work for even-richer-than-before commodity traders instead of trying to afford housing in a market ruled by affluent holiday home owners and retirees. That's pretty much what happened to me, like many others I grew up with. Given the choice most of us would have preferred to live & work where we grew up but we simply couldn't afford to because rich baby boomers buying second homes pushed housing beyond a local wage, although getting a wage in the first place was difficult at the time too.

Here's hoping my cynicism is misplaced.

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Facepalm

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

...And what was done with the massive windfall that came with the revenue from NSO tax revenues?...

As I recall, Thatcher got our National Debt down to around £17bn, what with the oil and associated boom. Even though there were few votes in it.

The Debt's now £1.2tn.

Anyone with any sense would spend a lot of that money on getting us out of this horrendous debt. But I don't suppose they will. No votes in it, you see....

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Mushroom

Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

Now where's my "Manchester North of England" t-shirt? Don't really give a fig about shale but devolution or independence would be good and persecuting Southerners is always good. "They don't like it up 'em, you know" Well, actually they probably do: time to find out!

Where do we go to join up? (Picture of Mark E. Smith with Kitchener tash proclaiming it's our duty…)

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Re: Down the tubes we go (again)

Well, once oild and gas supplies run out in Scotland, Scotland will probably get its independence (it's a Treasury thang no?)

So I suppose same holds with North of England: once energy resources are exhausted the N of E will get its independence if that is what it wanted 30 to 40 years previous (it is a Treasury thang no?)

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"It was spent on lowering personal taxation to win elections"

Since, technically, the country belongs to the people, not the Government, it is right, in principle, that at least some of the revenues raised from the country's natural resources go to those people.

In Alaska, every citizen gets a cheque every year, for their personal share of the oil revenues. Seems right to me.

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Flame

Community benefits

Like flammable tap water to heat your home!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Community benefits

Except that was shown to have been filmed in a different area well known for being contaminated.

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Joke

Re: Community benefits

Yes yes, by methane or something and definitely not fracking, which is totally without consequence. If anything the value of your property will go up when in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing as that's also one of the community benefits. Better do it near Sheffield or something because that area could use a housing price boost. But come on, fiery faucets ... - no? nothing? not even a titter? Tough sub.

P.S. Will use the correct icon next time!

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Re: Community benefits

@gazzathejourno

Research at Duke University now confirms that methane does leak into the water near drilling sites. Not as much as in the TV reports but still above official max levels.

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Re: Community benefits

> Research at Duke University now confirms that methane does

> leak into the water near drilling sites.

Except the water there was contaminated before the fracking started.

Would they not have been better looking in fracking areas where there was no pre-contamination for a more obvioulsy un-biased result?

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Re: Community benefits

> Like flammable tap water to heat your home!

You know there are several towns in the States called "Burning Springs".

Long before anyone thought of fracking.

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Re: Community benefits

Except the water there was contaminated before the fracking started.

Hi Thicko, meet fact:

The relationship cannot be put down to gasmen's penchant for plonking their drills in spots where natural gas is most abundant in the first place. In the absence of drilling the gas, being trapped in the shale beds 1,500-2,500 metres beneath the countryside, would stay put; concentrations nearer to the surface would remain unaffected.

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There's gas under my town. Can I just start digging in the garden? Will energy companies purchase gas by the inflated balloon or full jam-jar?

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Anonymous Coward

Might have problems if you don't own the local mineral exploitation rights.

Easiest thing to do is to dig a really big hole, chuck a match in it and sell tickets to tourists. It'll be awesome.

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If you are in the UK it does not matter.

All mineral resources and resources underground belong to the state.

(strictly to Her Majesty but really to the Treasury because nobody will let on if the Treasury does not want it to be known no? Certainly not to HM. Imagine if HM said: all income taxes will now be 5% on the first £100,000. So it cannot possibly be HM at all can it?)

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Biggest benefit

The biggest benefit is not directly cheaper energy - that price will be set by the world markets plus our dear government's taxes. What will change will be that our balance of trade improves. At present we live on tick from the rest of the world (like the Yanks), because we buy more than we sell. Obviously that's not a tenable position indefinitely, and so not having to import as much fuel would help a great deal. This is a double edged sword though, because it makes inflating our debts away more difficult, and a higher (or less low) exchange rate makes imports cheaper and the stuff we export more expensive.

Shale enthusiasts (and I'm one) should note that the UK shale gas formations are far more complex and heavily faulted than the US reserves, which means that extracting the gas will not be as simple as importing the US technology and sucking it out.

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