The Midland Valley in central Scotland has a “modest” amount of shale gas and oil compared to the north of England, according to a new report published yesterday.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) estimates that the region is likely to hold around 80 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas and 6bn barrels of shale oil.
In contrast, a BGS report last year said that the Bowland Basin in the north of England could hold around 1,300 tcf of shale gas, enough to power the country for the next 40 years.
Scotland currently produces the majority of Britain’s conventional oil and gas, which has been a key issue in the Scottish independence debate ahead of September’s referendum.
Energy minister Michael Fallon yesterday emphasised the benefits of a unified UK working together to maintain energy security. “Only the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom can attract investment in new energy sources and maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s great energy hubs – generating energy and generating jobs,” he said. “The UK’s energy security is among the best in the world, backed by a large consumer and tax base that can afford to support our world-leading energy industries and make us such an attractive place to invest.”
The report also warned that the Midland Valley has “complex geology and a relative lack of data” compared to previous BGS studies in England.
The UK government has been encouraging the development of shale gas, hoping that it will boost energy security and reduce reliance on costly gas imports.
The campaign has been met with criticism from environmentalists, who claim the hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract the gas causes earth tremors and water pollution.
Companies will be able to bid for permits to drill for shale gas in the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round, expected to take place this summer.
The UK Onshore Operators Group welcomed the report, saying it would reassure investors wishing to explore for oil and gas onshore in Scotland.