According to a new report from the Univ. of Edinburgh, oil reserves in the North Sea are nearly depleted, and the UK needs to cut its losses and invest in alternatives to oil. About 10% of the UK's original recoverable oil & gas remain in place (11% for oil and 9% for gas), the report said, arguing that the depletion of North Sea fields will not be offset by onshore shale development. Fracking in the UK, said the report's author—Univ. of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences professor Roy Thompson—will be "barely" viable due to "low quality source rocks" and "complex geological histories—" not to mention the difficulties of development in densely populated areas. "The UK urgently needs a bold energy transition plan, instead of trusting to dwindling fossil fuel reserves and possible fracking," Professor Thompson said. "There needs to be greater emphasis on renewables, energy storage and improved insulation and energy efficiencies."
But the industry has heard it before, and begged to differ. "In terms of onshore oil and gas it is far too early to be making such definite proclamations about the feasibility of shale gas in the UK," said Ken Cronin, chief executive of United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG). "Without proper exploration of what is beneath our feet we will never know how much there is and whether it is commercial. Currently the industry in progressing a package of 3D seismic surveys, exploration and drilling and flow testing to ascertain what can be extracted technically and economically." In the US, he added, drillers have seen "significant improvements in both the amount of gas produced by wells and the cost, while in the UK our initial studies have shown that 400 well pads across the UK could reduce import dependency by half." (Oct 11)
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