But if we have 50 years’ worth of natural gas right under our feet, surely that could be enough to make a difference to the international market?
FACT: Whether it’s 50 years or nothing at all, the truth is that nobody has a precise idea of accessible shale gas reserves in the UK. However, a joint 2019 paper by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the University of Nottingham, published in the journal Nature[i], found that shale reserves are “~10 times lower than previously thought” (i.e. than the original 2013 BGS desk-based study which came up with the 50 year figure) and “considerably below 10 years supply at the current consumption”. A 2018 paper by Durham and Newcastle Universities, which considered fracking’s surface development requirements and its impact on existing infrastructure (roads, buildings etc)[ii] found that fracking would provide the equivalent of less than 3 years’ gas usage.
To quote financial conglomerate Citicorp, it is “doubtful that there will be anything other than a cottage shale industry”[iii].