The Carboniferous shales of the Midland Valley of Scotland: geology and resource estimation

The British Geological Survey (BGS) in association with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has completed an estimate for the amount of shale gas and oil in the Midland Valley of Scotland. The estimate is in the form of a range to reflect geological uncertainty. The range of shale gas in place is estimated to be between 49.4 and 134.6 trillion cubic feet (tcf), with the central estimate for the resource being 80.3 tcf. The range of shale oil in place is estimated to be between 3.2 and 11.2 billion barrels (bbl), with the central estimate for the resource being 6.0 bbl.

The relatively complex geology and limited amount of good quality constraining data (seismic reflection and borehole) result in a higher degree of uncertainty to the Midland Valley of Scotland shale gas and shale oil resource estimation than the previous Bowland-Hodder and Weald Basin studies. The prospective shale intervals occur within a stacked rock sequence; individually shales are thinner than in many unconventional gas and oil systems worldwide.

Area prospective for shale oil
Area prospective for shale gas

The figure for both shale gas and shale oil represent the total amount of gas and oil present in the rocks. Reserve and recovery estimation is not possible at this stage; in order to estimate the shale gas and oil reserves, drilling and testing of new wells will be required to understand if commercial production rates would be achieved. Development of shale gas and oil in the Midland Valley of Scotland will also be strongly controlled by the depth of prospective shales relative to abandoned deep coal mine workings and the presence of pre-existing geological faults.

Shale gas and oil clearly has potential in Britain but it will require geological and engineering expertise, investment and protection of the environment. It will also need organisations like the BGS to play their part in providing up to date and accurate information on resources and the environment to the public, industry and Government.

Download the BGS/DECC Midland Valley of Scotland report

Download the BGS/DECC BGS Midland Valley of Scotland reports.

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