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IGas boosts UK unconventional shale gas stash

The country has 170 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas in northern England

The UK’s shale gas resources have received a boost after IGas announced it has 170 trillion cubic feet (cf) of shale gas within its licence areas in northern England.  

The UK independent said it had studied the Lower Carboniferous shales in its licence areas, which cover around 300 square miles between Liverpool and Manchester, and estimates there could be up to 172.3 trillion cf of shale gas-in-place (GIP).

IGas said it had made three estimates for the amount GIP within its licence areas - low, most likely and high. The 172.3 trillion cf figure was the high estimate, while the company said there was most likely around 102 trillion cf of GIP, it said. IGas said it plans to start a drilling programme to exploit the gas in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The company said this could be the equivalent to around 677 billion cf of shale gas per square mile across the company’s acreage in northwest England. Some of IGas’ licence area covers the Bowland Shale where Cuadrilla Resources said it has found an additional 200 trillion cf of shale gas.

Andrew Austin, IGas chief executive, said the company’s licences have “a very significant shale gas resource with the potential to transform the company and materially benefit the (local) communities”.

Austin added that the planned drilling programme for later this year will further refine the resource estimates and improve its understanding of the shales in northwest England. IGas also plans to study shale potential in its East Midlands and Weald Basin licence areas.

IGas operates in seven areas within the UK, including the Midlands and northwest England, producing conventional oil and gas. The company has other unconventional licence areas, such Point of Ayr near Liverpool, where it is exploring for shale gas and coal-bed methane.

At the end of May, Egdon Resources, another UK independent, said there could be up to 16 trillion cf of shale gas in its East Midlands acreage. Egdon said this could be equivalent to 12 years’ worth of North Sea gas production.

Egdon recently bought a 60% stake in a licence area in Lincolnshire for shale gas exploration. Egdon said on 28 May it had farmed in to the PEDL209 licence in Lincolnshire, also owned by Blackland Park Exploration (28%) and Stelinmatvic Industries Limited (12%).

A long-awaited study on the UK's prospective onshore shale gas reserves should be released soon by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The British Geological Survey (BGS), which provided DECC with data for the report, has been tight-lipped about the reserve figure, but there has been speculation that the resources could be large enough to slash European gas prices. There could also be huge shale gas resources offshore, according to the BGS. The UK government said the BGS has offered a tentative resource estimate of 1,000 trillion cf for the east Irish Sea Basin alone.   

The UK’s conventional gas reserves are 1.7 trillion cf, according to Cedigaz.

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