13.12.12: The statement today by Energy and Climate Secretary Edward Davey relates to the specific issue of reducing the seismic risk associated with shale gas drilling, it should not be interpreted as a green light for wide spread commercial development of shale gas in the UK.
Research carried out by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and others has shown that exploration is necessary to assess the shale gas resource in the UK, monitor the environmental impacts of drilling and assess the effectiveness of the existing regulatory regime.
UKERC gas expert Professor Michael Bradshaw says: “Only an exploratory drilling programme can provide the information needed to arrive at a better assessment of the reserve base, but the US experience suggests that even that will provide limited understanding."
"It is only by extensive drilling that commercial levels of production can be guaranteed. Any further decisions must assess the commercial viability of shale gas in the UK, against the regulatory costs and tax regime, the environmental impacts (both direct in relation to the drilling activity and indirect in terms of greenhouse gas emissions) and the wider societal acceptance of the industry. In short, shale gas will remain a conditional resource in the UK for some-time to come.”
Christophe McGlade helped conduct a UKERC review into shale gas resources, he reinforces this view saying: “Estimates of technically recoverable resources are significantly more useful than the much more speculative and rather less helpful estimates of gas in place. Drilling will also aid estimation of the potential for economic recovery of these resources. Exploratory drilling will hence reduce the uncertainties that currently exist over the size of the UK resource base and allow a more evidence based discussion on the potential role of shale gas in the UK energy system.”
Researchers from UKERC’s Technology and Policy Assessment theme also suggest that even with this knowledge exploratory drilling will not provide a clear forecast of future wholesale gas prices which are influenced more by developments in regional and global gas markets, than by any progress in exploiting UK resources.
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Notes to Editors:
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