Reports emerged yesterday that the UK might have around 1,000
trillion cubic feet of offshore shale gas, a figure the
Wall Street Journal are attributing to the British
Geological Survey (BGS). But when we asked BGS, it told us it
doesn't recognise the estimate, or think that much gas will be
recoverable. So what's going on?
The Times wrote:
"Yesterday, the British Geological
Survey released estimates of Britain's offshore shale gas reserves,
exceed one trillion cubic feet, more than five times the
estimated onshore deposits, it said. This would catapult the UK
into the top ranks of worldwide producers of shale gas."
In 2011, BGS estimated the total onshore shale gas resource in
the UK at 144 billion cubic metres. It is currently in the process
of coming up with a new estimation for onshore
resource, but we didn't know anything about a new offshore
estimate. So it seemed a bit out of character for the BGS to start
announcing offshore reserves of 1,000 trillion cubic feet off UK
On investigation, it appears this figure stems from a Reuters
Exclusive: UK has vast shale gas reserves, geologists say.
Reuters quotes a BGS geologist, Nigel
"'There will be a lot more offshore
shale gas and oil resources than onshore,' [...] UK offshore
reserves could be five to 10 times as high as onshore[...]."
Smith first made this statement to the
UK's energy and climate change committee in May 2011
during an investigation into shale gas.
But when we asked him whether he'd ever said the UK's
offshore reserves equalled 1,000 trillion cubic feet, Smith told
"Don't believe the figures!"