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UK shale oil - infographic

  • 23 May 2014, 14:15
  • Simon Evans

The British Geological Survey (BGS) says there is 4.4 billion barrels of oil trapped in shale rocks beneath southern England's Weald basin. Is that a lot or a little?

Weald final chart

Source:  BGSBBC BP

The UK currently uses around half a billion barrels of oil per year (top bar). Over the past 40 years 45 billion barrels have been extracted from the North sea. That's 1.1 billion barrels per year (second bar).

There is an estimated 3.1 billion barrels of oil in UK proven reserves that can be extracted using today's technology and at today's prices (third bar).

The Weald basin shale oil resource is even higher, at 4.4 billion barrels (fourth bar). But as the BGS is quick to emphasise, not all of this will be recoverable.

We take an optimistic 5 per cent estimate of the proportion of shale oil under the Weald that might be recoverable (bottom bar).

Some experts think the figure will be even lower, more like 1 per cent. Only time will tell.

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