How much shale gas do we have?

The UK has abundant shales at depth, although their distribution is not well known. The BGS is investigating the location, depth and properties of the shale as well as the processes that lead to economic accumulations of gas.

Download BGS/OGA 2013 Bowland Shale gas study: geology and resource estimation.

The 2010 BGS/OGA Shale Gas report (published in 2012) identified significant potential areas in northern England, including Widmerpool Gulf near Nottingham and a large area centred on the Elswick Gasfield, near Blackpool.

The recently published UK data and analysis for shale gas prospectivity covers work up to March 2009 and identifies high prospect areas.

Ongoing BGS research work is focused in three main areas:


Outcrop of main black shale formations in UK and selected oil and gas wells and gasfields.

The BGS has carried out a basic geological study of shale gas basins through the use of conventional oil and gas well data to identify potential targets; for example:

  • total organic carbon and shale formation crops and thicknesses
  • seismic and well databases incorporated into geographical information systems (GIS) and 3D models

More about BGS research on Shale gas prospectivity.

Laboratory studies of shale gas organic geochemistry

Our studies of the organic content of shales allow a more strategic, predictive understanding of shale prospectivity.

The organic geochemical composition of shale controls gas generation and gas retention.

Various techniques allow determination of thermal maturity, kerogen typing, organic richness to determine organic matter quality and productivity.

More about source rock quality and properties

Fractures, rock physics and anisotropic processing

This technology allows remote study of possible shale gas reservoirs using information from seismic surveys.

Assessment of shale for gas productivity includes:

  1. natural fracture characterisation
  2. rock physics modelling
  3. anisotropic processing of P and PS converted-wave seismic data
  4. fracture mapping using wide azimuth 3D P-wave data, 3D-3C land multicomponent data and 3D-4C OBC data
  5. rock composition characterisation including assessment of brittleness of shales (Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio) from rock physics modelling

More about shale anisotropy


Contact Enquiries for further information.