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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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).

    2. h3

      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.)

      1. KierO
        Megaphone

        Re: Fuck yeh

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Squander Two

        "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.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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...

    1. Steve Crook

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Squander Two

          "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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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

      2. James Micallef Silver badge

        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.

    2. Reginald Gerard
      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.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge
        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.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Sounds familiar

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      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.

  4. Christoph Silver badge
    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?

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      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.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    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?)

    1. Roger Greenwood
      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.

    2. JimC Silver badge

      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...

    3. Steve Crook

      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.

    4. Scott Broukell

      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.

    5. El Presidente
      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.

    6. Circadian
      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.

    7. Dr Stephen Jones

      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. .

    8. Roo
      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.

    9. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      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....

    10. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      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…)

    11. All names Taken

      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?)

      1. Squander Two

        "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.

  6. Lexxy
    Flame

    Community benefits

    Like flammable tap water to heat your home!

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Community benefits

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

      1. Lexxy
        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!

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        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.

        1. Nial

          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?

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            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.

    2. Nial

      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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. All names Taken

      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?)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  9. Darren Barratt
    Stop

    Lets see how popular it is when Mancheser disappears into a sink hole (with the locals, not everyone else!)

    I notice that they're not looking too hard for it in the South East.

    1. Steve Crook
      Joke

      HS2

      No, they'll be too busy spending >£30bn ripping HS2 though our villages for the benefit of you ungrateful northerners

      1. PassiveSmoking
        FAIL

        Re: HS2

        What benefit? HS2 goes nowhere near Manchester.

        1. Chemist

          Re: HS2

          "What benefit? HS2 goes nowhere near Manchester."

          What !

          HS2 - love it or loath it is intended to run from London - Birmingham and then branch to Manchester and Leeds. The (eye-watering) costs are in the news currently.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I guess you weren't noticing very hard. There's lots of shale prospecting taking place around the Weald Basin, which will make the news another day when they have results to publish.

    3. theastrodragon
      Thumb Up

      Not seeing the problem here...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I notice that they're not looking too hard for it in the South East."

      There's some good US Geological Survey reports on UK shale gas & oil reserves that a search will turn up. The long and the short of it is that in the North it's gas, in the South it's oil shales. They aren't yet as economically viable as gas. The really interesting thing is perhaps offshore shale gas reserves. Nobody's paid any attention to them at the moment, but I';d wager that the Southern North Sea would keep us going for a few centuries (when we've got the technology to get it out cheaply).

      As another poster has already said, all of that ignores the malignant policies of DECC, intended to plunge us into darkness as soon and as expensively as possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I notice that they're not looking too hard for it in the South East."

        Yes they are.

        "Fernhurst drilling plans worry residents"

        http://www.midhurstandpetworth.co.uk/news/top-stories/latest/fernhurst-drilling-plans-worry-residents-1-5213976

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They're not looking in the south east because we have jobs and valuable things. We don't need the work or the risks.

    6. KierO
      Thumb Down

      Really?

      "I notice that they're not looking too hard for it in the South East."

      Really?

      Maybe not shale gas but Oil exploration that threatens one of the best looking villages I have ever been through:

      http://tinyurl.com/qyhdlfj

      Besides, you can really look for underground rock formations in the south east......because it's all clay down here mate!! (At least a majority of the top soil is anyway.

      http://tinyurl.com/ppqzav9

      Try getting your facts right before you shoot of about the old "North-South divide", it's such a tired cliché.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be too smug there.

    "Reducing emissions means we have to leave shale gas and other unconventional fuels in the ground,” televised wrestling conglomerate hard-green pressure group WWF insisted in a policy statement on shale gas last year. Good luck with that, chaps."

    Don't be too smug there. Your political class has decided that you are going to reduce your energy consumption and your consumption of everything else too and that's what you are going to do. It doesn't matter what new resources and sources of energy, new process technologies are found, discovered, or invented: the matter has been decided by the people who decide these matters, and that's an end to it.

    Sorry. Oh, and welcome to Soviet England!

    Chumps.

  11. Stuart 22
    FAIL

    Pass the pack ice mother ...

    And how many tons of CO2 is that equivalent too?

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Pass the pack ice mother ...

      You think this will increase our CO2 output? Think again! This is a REPLACEMENT STRATEGY!!! We will still burn this amount of fuel if we don't exploit these deposits but we'll just be paying for it through the nose from importers...

  12. PlacidCasual
    Facepalm

    Can the politicians be trusted...

    to do something smart?

    This is a gift horse. We should put these unexpected revenues into a soveriegn wealth fund to give future generations the benefit of our good luck. We should also ban export of this gas, why sell it on the World market we could easily reduce UK energy costs by 50% if we limited it to the domestic market. Imagine the industries which would once again become viable. Automation in process industries has meant that manpower costs relative to energy costs mean we no longer lose out to low labour cost countries if our energy costs are low. It's a multiple win, increased GDP in productive jobs, export income, more people in work lowering welfare costs and it can regenerate the north.

    Saving for the future and empowering the now is the correct course of action. Which is why I expect our stupid dumbass polticians to allow companies to sell it into Europe at low prices pissing away advantage for short term political gain. that applies to polticians of any party btw.

    1. streaky Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Can the politicians be trusted...

      "why sell it on the World market we could easily reduce UK energy costs by 50% if we limited it to the domestic market"

      Then the world market turns round and bans export of, dunno, oil or computers or uranium or something to the UK. Not for nothing but it's going to take a lot of engineering experience we don't have to get this stuff out the ground anyway, which means foreign investment. Be happy with what we found, and remember export sales means more tax revenues.

  13. Smooth Newt
    Trollface

    Department of Energy, and err Climate Change

    This must be from the Department of Energy side of the Department of Energy & Climate Change since there is no mention of any anthropogenic climate change caused by converting all this gas to atmospheric carbon dioxide. I really wish they would split the DECC into two departments, rather than having one with such a severe split personality disorder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Department of Energy, and err Climate Change

      then they could get rid of one half and maybe have some smaller cuts in departments that actually help people, rather than telling them they are bad for the planet?

  14. Bernard

    Good article in The Independent on this

    Fracking has been pretty successful in parts of the US where 1 person per square kilometre constitutes a crowd.

    There aren't too many of those here, and people tend to be fairly sensitive about them (The Lake District, etc.). Where things are more crowded locals are unlikely to give a frack what the possible benefits are given our lack of understanding of the consequences. Any permissions are likely to be slow, heavily contested and limited in scope (all of which push up the price of any eventual product).

    I'll be glad if this does turn out to have safe and economically viable legs but I wouldn't dust off the energy boom just yet.

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Good article in The Independent on this

      Apparently, the Bowland is about 10 times thicker than US shale beds. From my limited understanding, this means that it'll be possible to drill horizontally into the beds and frack from a distance. If the guy from Cuadrilla was to be believed, it gas should be extractable from relatively few well heads compared to what's been seen in the US.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Good article in The Independent on this

      I think the energy boom is what a lot of the people who live on top those gas deposits are afraid of.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good article in The Independent on this

      Think spokeperson was saying this morning that total footprint of all the sites needed across a region of 10,000sqkm was about 2 sqkm .... looking at that area there's probably more than 2 sqkm of permiership and football league pitches there

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good article in The Independent on this

      good point about not getting to excited, but the total NIMBY on earlier today should have been required to learn at least some basic science before being given airtime - that hurts any case against moving forward. Or at least it would, if she hadn't been given more airtime than anyone else on the issue.

  15. Tanuki

    Ownershipof the gas.

    One of the major disincentives to developing a shale-gas industry in the UK compared to the US is that in the US it's generally the landowner who owns mineral-resources beneath his/her property whereas in the UK such subterranean resources are considered the property of the State.

    An Englishman's home is his Castle, but he doesn't own the water/gas/coal under it.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Ownershipof the gas.

      That ownership and rights 'problem' didn't stop the previous massive coal mining and oil/gas drilling operations that have happened on UK territory. Why should it stop shale gas drilling?

      1. Squander Two

        "Why should it stop shale gas drilling?"

        Because people have been changed. They used to admire progress and want more of it. Now they want to read Guardian editorials about Mother Gaia.

  16. Rono666
    Pirate

    Do tell the yanks

    They will invade.

  17. Paddy
    Pint

    Toastie

    So I'll be able to sit in my warm, gas heated, lounge watching my china teacup trembling in its saucer as my house foundations subside.

    1. Nial

      Re: Toastie

      As I understand it the minor tremors caused by the previous drilling were nothing compare to previous mining activity, or those that occur naturally......

      http://earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/recent_uk_events.html

  18. Graham Marsden
    Boffin

    Note these words...

    "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 (trillion cubic feet) or 37.7 TCM (37,631 BCM, or billion cubic metres) of gas."

    There's a lot of conditional words there...

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Note these words...

      Of course there are, until you actually drill down there it's all very highly educated guess work.

      I used to work in oil exploration and it wasn't unusual to hear of exploratory wells that produced pure clean water, one underground reservoir of liquid looking much like any other. Still cost a fuck load to drill that first hole mind.

  19. Pen-y-gors Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    But, but, but....

    unless I'm mistaken, this is actually another source of FOSSIL fuel, the burning of which will release more CO2 and other greenhouse gasses?

    If we keep burning fossil fuels at the same rate for another 50 years we are going to be in deep do-do.

    The boy Chancellor says that there will be money for energy infrastructure - which shouldn't mean massive nuclear subsidies. We need to update the grid to handle a new structure, where it is switching energy between millions of small scale generators and consumers (wind, solar, whatever) as well as a small number of large scale generation plants. We don't need another couple of generations of business as usual, with cheap local shale gas.

    Won't someone think of the children!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: But, but, but....

      If you look at the map, most of it is well above sea level -except for Lincolnshire .

      A petrochemical rich independant Yorkshire and a rising sea level flooded south east doesn't look to bad.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: But, but, but....

        All hail The People's Republic of Ebahgum.

    2. Nial

      Re: But, but, but....

      > unless I'm mistaken, this is actually another source of FOSSIL fuel, the burning

      > of which will release more CO2 and other greenhouse gasses?

      Yes, it's great how we can enhance the crop yields of the third world while at the same time enjoying the benefits of this new resource!

      BTW Nobody's yet demonstrated the link between CO2 and global temperature.

      > We need to update the grid to handle a new structure

      No we don't. The grid works BECAUSE it's a solid reliable synchronous system that we can all rely upon. Trying to make it 'flexible' is an engineering nightmare (I'm not sure it's even possible).

    3. BoldMan

      Re: But, but, but....

      Well you obviously aren't thinking of the children unless you want them to grow up in a mediaeval-likeage where power is so expensive it has to be rationed!

      I say again, using this gas won't INCREASE our CO2 output, it will just REPLACE the very expensive gas supplies that we currently export. Why don't you people ever seem to understand that?

  20. JeeBee
    Devil

    I'm sure politicians can see some gravytrain directorships in the near future

    So which private company will we sell the rights to mine these fields to for a pittance?

    Companies that will soon have directors that are currently MPs, not linked of course.

    I don't trust politicians to do what is in the best interest of the country as a whole (or a region as a whole - the North of England should be winning massively from these reserves, but it actually looks like they'll only get 1% of revenue right now) when they could improve their own lot.

  21. MR J

    Yess

    Along with the property I own in the US and get 20-25% royalties on I can now get some royalties in the UK and spend those to help stimulate the UK economy. Wait, Oh, No, Your right, In the UK the people do not own the mineral rights.

    And they are planning on giving 1% of the "profits" back to local communities, YEA, Anyone who has dealt with this before knows that you take 1% of the sourced product value and NOT the "profit", the reason is that the oil giants tend to set up sub companies that own the pipeline, refining, and pumping networks that tend to eat up virtually all of the "profit" between the well and the cash out points.

    The only upshot is that some of those common £30-£35 an hour jobs might come to the UK, my guess is that they'll push through for values a lot lower than that, but who knows.

    1. Corinne

      Re: Yess

      Don't forget that the 1% is going "into local communities". That doesn't mean all the local residents get to share that 1%, it means the local council/charity of the month/favourite quango get it to spend on what THEY feel like. So rather than a nice little boost to local incomes, it will be grants to a street dance company, twinning with somewhere you've never heard of & can't pronounce (with the incorporated costs of the entire council visiting there every year) and if you're really lucky a reduction in the excessive costs of getting garden waste disposed of

  22. auburnman

    Western resurgence

    "cheap energy has made manufacturing and heavy industry competitive again."

    And how long before the cheap energy needle swings back to India and China because they built some nuclear reactors unfettered by the legacy of cold war fears?

  23. We're all in it together

    Has anyone told Sid?

    How exactly do they calculate the amount of gas?

    I know of one other location where there's 28 billion trillion cubic feet of gas exhaled pretty much every day - its called Westminster. I suspect many people would hope they "get fracked."

    It'll bring the bills down? By the time they've drilled, tapped, and recovered the gas I hate to think how much our bills will be. George Osborne will be 125 years old before we're out of this austerity.

    Off down the pub now to sulk over the price of beer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anyone told Sid?

      I know of one other location where there's 28 billion trillion cubic feet of gas exhaled pretty much every day - its called Westminster.

      That's not gas, it's hot air. That's also why it mainly rains in the weekends.

  24. Gav
    Facepalm

    Sweeteners

    So there are promised sweeteners of £100,000 worth of “community benefits”, are there?

    Why does the energy industry believe that everything can be solved by throwing money at it?

    Hey, we've just ripped up your landscape and blasted the foundations out beneath everything. But here's a tiny cut of the profits to make up for the fact you'll be living in a crumbling quarry for the next 50 years. Bye!

  25. LinkOfHyrule
    Holmes

    Can I suggest shoving a pipeline directly into the gobs of leading politicians of all sides and fracking the heck out of their faces? They spout so much hot air that there's bound to be a usable and sustainable gas supply in there somewhere!

    Sherlock 'cus he's already got a pipe sticking out his chops!

    1. Rukario

      @Link: Can I suggest shoving a pipeline directly into the gobs of leading politicians of all sides and fracking the heck out of their faces?

      You'll need that pipe to capture the gas; you'll need to shove a pipeline in the other end to pump in the fracturing fluid.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "To sway nervous NIMBYs and other Radio 4 listeners"

    as someone who is not a NIMBY but is often an R4 listener at that time of Today, i was annoyed that there was someone on from Luddites'r'Us this morning who made me want to introduce a special NIMBY levy on energy pricing (as opposed to the people in Dungeness, polled a while back about a new nuclear station, who said "yes please", but not mentioned Today). Later in the programme they had someone from "Friends" of the Earth who seemed to imply a wish to ban all power generation from anything other than unreliables - sorry, renewables. The day after solar and wind power can provide base load (ie 100% of the time), with spare capacity for peaks on demand, without requiring ridiculous amounts of land, then maybe he'll be worth listening to, but judging by today he has no practical ideas to offer. Maybe he just didn't express his views that clearly.

    It's really annoying to listen to what's supposed to be a flagship current affairs programme that is so blatantly slanted at times.

  27. nuclearstar

    Wow great, low cost gas right on our doorstep, and trillions of cubic metres of it, so we dont have to import expensive gas from Russia.

    bills go down? no, bills will beat best the same as what they are now, just these companies profits will be even higher, and how many of these energy companies are foreign owned, who pay bugger all corporation tax?

  28. Frankee Llonnygog

    So long as we invest some of the revenue ...

    ... in nuclear

    1. billse10

      Re: So long as we invest some of the revenue ...

      preferably "new" technologies like travelling wave, or just thorium cycle, which /should/ be able to "burn" the waste from the older generation - surely at least some of the (not-so-new) infrastructure/science investment Danny-boy announced this morning should have gone to things like that.

      By the way does anyone know why Eskom dropped their pebble-bed research?

  29. a_mu
    Mushroom

    Asset

    Whilst the gas in in the ground,

    its an asset.

    as technology gets better, it becomes more of an asset, as we can recover more of it for less,

    once its gone its gone.

    Now what will the politicians decide,

    short term or long term ?

    1. Yag

      "Now what will the politicians decide, short term or long term ?"

      Do you really have to ask?

      I agree with the whole post however, and i'll add that as technology gets better, cleaner recovery methods will be devised as well.

  30. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Unhappy

    BBQ

    It's nice to know that when the last of the Polar Bears dies we will have plenty of gas to cook it on the BBQ.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: BBQ

      are they worth BBQing? Never seen one with much meat on them.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frell me dead

    If there's money to be made, they WILL extract shale gas. Simple. No matter the protests, it WILL get approved and someone will get richer out of it while patting us on the head and saying, "we did this for YOU..."

    Bring back coal, now there was a fuel you could sink your teeth into......

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bet you gas prices don't go down though. Same as all that oil in the Falklands won't cause fuel prices to go down.

  33. smartypants

    The rule about fossil fuels...

    We know we ought not dig it all up, but we know we will.

    Renewable are the fig leaf that allows the politicians to pretend they're taking the right decisions whilst not actually doing anything to stop the release of fossil co2

    Sad.

  34. mr. deadlift
    FAIL

    you familiar with the oroborus. the snake in a circle that eats itself? that's what oil shale is. return on energy invested is next to fuck all. plus you have added bonus of a raped wasteland. unless youre going for that kind of look. no much better investing in new god damn energy tech or invading a nation of little brown people with easily extractable resources. oil shale is a sham and a dying gasp of big oil ideas.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So *estimated* 47 yrs of *all* UK gas requirements or 268 yr of the foreign imports.

    Might get some nuclear capacity on line. Perhaps Molten Salt (which would be sensible) or regular LWR, with some work on transuranic using reactors (or "waste burners").

    Anaerobic digestion could give 50% of UK gas demands in a renewable way (and would scale with the human population :) )

    Geothermal could give about 2GW from N.Sea oil wells (dead or not).

    Tidal, wave and micro hydro could give several GW more.

    All predictable consistent power supplies, but a bit complex to explain.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Britain Discovers Cheap Energy Source

    And flogs it to foreigners.

    Nothing changes.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SHOULD Yield - That is NOT what BGS said

    "finally published today – indicate that using today’s technology, the rocks <b>should yield</b> 1,329 TCF (trillion cubic feet) or 37.7 TCM (37,631 BCM, or billion cubic metres) of gas."

    BGS say - POTENTIALLY CONTAIN.

    That's an entirely different concept from Orlowski's - SHOULD YIELD.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: SHOULD Yield - That is NOT what BGS said

      The BGS summary says the range is 822-2,281 TCF. But this "estimate is a resource figure (gas-in-place) and so represents the gas that we think is present, but not the gas that might be possible to extract. The proportion of gas that it may be possible to extract is unknown as it depends on the economic, geological and social factors that will prevail at each operation."

      Typical US yields are about 10%.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: SHOULD Yield - That is NOT what BGS said

      Well spotted: you only need to go as far as page 3 of the report to read: 'This large volume of gas has been identified in the shales beneath central Britain, but not enough is yet known to estimate a recovery factor, nor to estimate potential reserves (how much gas may be ultimately produced).'

  38. Chaswobler

    Oil under the south east

    Nobody ever mentions the enormous quantities of oil under south east England. I suppose nobody wants nodding donkeys outside Windsor castle.

    And yet, we could all be oil barons like JR. Well, not quite as the mineral rights to land in the UK does not work like it does in the US.

  39. PassiveSmoking
    FAIL

    If you think this is going to knock so much as a penny of your gas bill then you're a bigger idiot than I gave you credit for.

    In fact, expect your bills to go up as the gas companies "need to make temporary readjustments to your contribution so we can fund the next generation of sustainable, reliable energy and give you the best possible service in the long run" and fleece us to pay for the infrastructure investment.

    None of the money that potentially comes in from this is going to filter down to consumers, and that's assuming that the most optimistic projections are true about there being 50 years of gas that's economically viable to extract down there. According to the earlier comment from our Polish friend that's far from a given.

  40. Anomalous Cowshed

    Very little damage to the countryside - honest

    Very little damage will be inflicted on the countryside and almost no disturbance will be caused to residents as we sink 10 km long lateral self-assembling and self-guiding pipes generated from thin air below ground. We will then gently fracture the rock by injecting materials through these pipes which will also be generated spontaneously underground. Then the gas will come out of its own accord at our command, and will be programmed on a molecular level to make its way in an orderly fashion along invisible aerial pathways to existing gas terminals far away using Brownian tele-transportation technology that is currently under development. When you consider that the shale rocks in Britain are stacked, not like in other countries, you can see how really lucky you are! So there's nothing to worry about: this will be a clean, peaceful and relaxed operation. We will extract more gas than the whole of Russia, and you won't even notice that it's happening! What's in it for you I hear you say? Well apart from the pride you will feel at knowing that British corporations and their overseas partners are making good money, we will contribute £100,000 - yes, you saw that right, £100,000 - to local initiatives. And last, but not least, you stand to get cheap energy! You don't believe it? You'd better believe it, you ungrateful little sh..!

  41. WibbleMe

    Heat vs Clean Water

    I'm all yay for cheaper energy but "fracturing" the ground in the US has already show that water supplies may very likely will be contaminated, for those living in London I will give you a hint water flows South to you!

    Also we may have 50 years of Gas but not if we sell/pipe it off to Europe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heat vs Clean Water

      "for those living in London I will give you a hint water flows South to you!"

      That's presumably downhill !

  42. Equitas

    Has everyone forgotten how the oil industry started? James "Paraffin" Young standardising kerosene as the fraction of oil to be marketed and producing it from shale at Pumpherston in West Lothian, Scotland.

  43. Potemkine Silver badge
    Alert

    Wait and see

    Before starting to exploit shale gas in Europe, we should wait for at least 5 years. Why? To analyze the consequences of such exploitation on the environment. The US are a gigantic experiments lab, and there are already troubling signs coming: for instance, contamination of underground water with methane at short distance of wells is averred in Pennsylvania. So before polluting drinking water, we should think twice. Once we will have messed up it, it will be very hard to go backward.

    1. Nial

      Re: Wait and see

      > contamination of underground water with methane at short distance

      > of wells is averred in Pennsylvania.

      As I said before there are several towns in the States called Burning Springs, this was happening long before fracking started.

      Also most of the UK drinking water is from surface water lakes and resevoirs so this is even less likely to be affected than in the States where many use wells.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    All of this is totally unncessary...

    We've been hoodwinked by the Oil Cartel for decades.

    Free energy has been available though many means.

    Many people have discovered free and non-polluting methods of extracting energy including the great Tesla himself.

    Simply Google for "free energy tesla" "free energy from the vacuum" amongst several others.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: All of this is totally unncessary...

      FREE ENERGY WOW!

      Do you have a nigerian friend with any more business offers? The last one fell through at the last second, looked promising though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All of this is totally unncessary...

      ...so you've built your own device have you? Share a photo with us and proof of its efficacy. No, I thought not.

    3. Richard Wharram

      Re: All of this is totally unncessary...

      "Simply Google for "free energy tesla" "free energy from the vacuum" amongst several others."

      ---

      Wow - and there's an advert on the side of those sites too informing me of "Free sex in my area. No bullshit."

      Why is nobody informing the world of all this free stuff seems too good to be true? It sounds great!!!!!!!!!!!1

      ---

      Seriously though... fuck off.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    key?

    Shame the included map doesn't have a key. I've no idea what each coloured region means or the significance of the purple boundary.

  46. Paul 164
    Go

    Frack on with it...

    Get it out of the ground now! As long as the Gov. don't sqander the money and plough it back into our currently limping economy!

  47. briesmith

    No Magic Bullet, no Holy Grail, no Bottomless Pit (of money)

    This gas - if the greens combined with the nimbys ever let any of it out of the ground - will be sold on the world market where it will displace whatever similar gas products are more expensive. The overall impact on prices will be negligible as world wide gas is already fantastically cheap (provided you don't load it with massive green taxes).

    As with petrol and diesel at the pumps, most of what we pay as consumers for gas is government determined through its tax regime and has absolutely no connection with what it costs to supply.

    If fracking ever gets going - and I don't think it will for as long as the LibDems are in power (and they look likely to form another coalition in 2015, this time with Labour) - it will make no difference to supply cost but will bring more of the extraction element in the production and distribution stream within the ambit of the UK tax system.

    And that means it will be spent - while it lasts - just like the rest of our tax income is and always has been, the way all governments spend the wealth this country produces, on buying votes.

    So no change there; but the greens might have to put up with killing just a few less of our grannies every winter.

  48. briesmith

    Houses Floating on Air

    I meant to add a big thank you to the greens for inventing gaseous underpinning for houses and other buildings. And for not bragging about it as much as such a life changing invention would reasonably deserve.

    Clearly all the houses in England that are currently supported on gas platforms cunningly hidden by nature in shale formations many meters below ground will be at terrible risk of toppling if the gas that is currently holding them up is removed by fracking.

    Fracking must never go ahead; we can't have people living in toppling houses.

  49. Green Nigel 42
    Trollface

    Corporation tax

    Any estimates on how much tax revenues the multi nationals will actually contribute to the UK from tbis Gas Bonanza!!!! Probably as much as the real recoverable reserves/ estimated.

    Another point, any one else notice how the North/ South border moves in relation to the economies perceived strength? I keep hearing how HS2 will benifit the north. Last time I looked Birmingham was in the Midlands! Sorry but that was before the City canonbalised our manufacturing base funded by North Sea Oil.

  50. Mark Dowling
    Stop

    Is that map what ground water in the various areas will look like?

    If the UK isn't watching carefully what's going on in the US - using diesel as a drill lubricant, claiming confidentiality about the contents of otther lubricants, where waste water from the process will be treated - there could be some unhappy times for the communities near the drill zones. Careful now.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019