MYTH #2:      “The UK has large enough reserves of shale gas to last for years to come”

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?

… it’s not as big as they promised. (Shale Hub Research | UCL Earth Sciences – UCL – University College London)

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].


[i] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11653-4.pdf

[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969717304096

[iii] https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/992297/uk-fracking-will-only-be-cottage-industry-says-citi-and-north-sea-even-more-doubtful-992297.html