The U.K.’s shale gas deposits in the north of England may be twice as high as previously thought, according to a recent report by The British Geological Survey (BGS). The new estimate for shale gas in the Bowland Basin region, the area of the U.K.’s largest shale gas deposits, is 3.7 trillion cubic meters.
The BGS has not yet released estimates on how much of these reserves will be recoverable. Dependent upon the kind of rock formations it is found in, between only 4 and 20 percent of a shale gas reserve can be extracted with current technology. Results in the range of these estimates could jump the U.K. to somewhere between the top 10 and top 20 nations for recoverable shale gas reserves.
The hydraulic fracturing technology of shale gas extraction is still controversial for its potential environmental impacts. Due to risk of earthquakes, shale gas extraction in the south of England was suspended from May 2011 until December 2012 before the government allowed it to continue.
The U.K. government will have to overcome environmental and public concerns to benefit from this new shale gas discovery. It has already promised over $150,000 in benefits and 1 percent of revenues from each production site to the communities in proximity of the wells.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement that shale exploration and production in the U.K. will be held to the “highest health, safety, and environmental standards.”