New Discovery: Britain Is Sitting On Massive Shale Oil Reserves

  • Date: 16/03/14
  • Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times

A NEW onshore oil bonanza could be on the horizon with vast potential resources found under a swathe of southern Britain, possibly on a par with the huge shale gas reservoirs found in the north.

Scientists from the British Geological Survey (BGS) are putting the final touches to a report on the oil-bearing shale rocks that stretch from Weymouth in the southwest to the Weald in the southeast and up through Oxfordshire.

The report focuses on the Weald area spanning Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey and is expected to say that its rocks are just as rich in oil as the North Sea strata that have been producing oil for the UK since the 1980s.

Some geologists estimate that the area could hold reserves equivalent to a third of those under the North Sea, although they emphasise that this would need to be confirmed by test drilling. The report will also say that oil found in such rocks would have to be extracted by fracking — the controversial technique where pressurised water is used to split rocks to release their hydrocarbons.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), is likely to prompt a flood of applications when the department opens the next round of licences later this year.

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