What the frack? Geology professor says UK shale gas deposits were hyped up


Shale gas deposits in the UK may be overhyped (Source: Getty)

UK fracking firms looking to replicate the success of the US shale boom may find themselves out of luck as new geologic research shows Britain's gas reserves are potentially much lower than previously thought.

Geology professor John Underhill from Heriot-Watt University warned the government should have an alternate plan in place for future gas supplies as the UK's shale deposits were formed 55m years too late to hold substantial amounts of accessible gas.

Shares in London-listed IGas, which is one of Britain's leading shale explorers, dropped at the market open. At the time of writing they were down 3.46 per cent at 62.75p.

It was previously thought that more substantial amounts of gas existed in Britain's shale after a 2013 study by the British Geological Survey indicated large shale deposits could supply the country for 25 years.

Read more: This is why US shale oil has surged and is weighing on prices

Underhill said the debate has been focused on whether or not hydraulic fracturing damages the environment when it should be looking at whether the geology stacks up.

The US shale industry has surged over the past year thanks to technological advancements and a crackdown on production by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) that encouraged increased investment. However, the US is also supported by big deposits in the heart of the continent that are primed for gas extraction.

In the government's latest poll on public opinion over fracking, support fell to just 16 per cent while 33 per cent were opposed. However, 48 per cent declined to support or oppose fracking.

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