Massive gas find renews shale debate in U.K. – by Paul Waldie (Globe and Mail – June 4, 2013)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

LONDON — Britain’s long-simmering debate about the future of shale gas has been shaken up by a new report indicating that one large deposit could contain enough natural gas to make the country self-sufficient for decades. The announcement came Monday from IGas Energy PLC, one of a handful of companies exploring Britain for shale gas.

London-based IGas said its drilling in northwestern England indicates a deposit containing at least 15 trillion cubic feet of in-place gas, and as much as 172 tcf. This was far higher than IGas’s original estimate of nine trillion cubic feet.

IGas, which is 20 per cent owned by Calgary-based Nexen Inc., has been drilling in the Bowland basin, a large rock formation that stretches across much of England. Another company, Cuadrilla Resources Inc., has been exploring the same basin in a different area and has already announced that it has located 200 tcf of in-place gas.

IGas chief executive officer Andrew Austin said the entire basin could contain 500 tcf. “Even if the industry can only extract a fraction of that, combined with North Sea reserves, it could make the U.K. self-sufficient in gas for decades to come,” Mr. Austin told the BBC on Monday.

Britain currently uses about three tcf of gas annually and imports roughly half that amount. Typically about 10 to 15 per cent of in-place gas can be extracted, meaning that if the Bowland is as rich as Mr. Austin suggests, it could produce at least 50 tcf.

This is nearly 10 times the British Geological Society’s estimate of all recoverable shale gas in Britain. The society has calculated that the country has 5.3 tcf of accessible shale gas; however, it is expected to produce a higher estimate this summer.

The IGas news is certain to add to an already heated discussion in Britain.

While shale gas has revolutionized the energy sector in much of North America, Britain and Europe have been far more cautious. In Britain, the government has been trying to balance the need to find alternative sources of energy with growing environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the technique used to extract the gas that involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the rock to release the gas.

For the rest of this article, click here: