UK shale gas reserves could be 300 times earlier estimates

Expert estimates of UK shale gas resources awaiting publication are rumoured to dwarf earlier figures. However author of the latest report, the British Geological Survey (BGS), said it did not recognise recent figures published in the media claiming a 300-fold hike in its findings.

The BGS said its report, handed over to government last December, included shale gas estimates for the entire Bowland Shale in the North West where shale exploration has been focused. The latest findings are widely expected to outstrip the 150 billion cubic metres found by a 2010 BGS study that covered only part of the Bowland region.

Recent media reports claim the BGS has concluded that the total UK resource could up to 48 trillion cubic metres - some 300 times its earlier estimate. "We do not recognise those figures," said a BGS spokesperson.

The spokesperson would only concede that the new estimate would be "different." But exploration firm Cuadrilla alone has put the resource in its region of the Bowland site alone at five trillion cubic metres - some 25 times the BGS 2010 estimate for the UK.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of newly-formed industry body the UK Onshore Operators Group, said: "Understandably, there is a lot of discussion about numbers that may or may not be in the BGS report. However, the important area is the technically recoverable figures, which the industry is working hard over the next 18 months to ascertain."

Author: Paul Newton,

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