Cuadrilla Resources estimates there is 200 tcf of natural gas in place at its exploration license area in the Bowland basin shale prospect in northwest England.
Cuadrilla Chief Executive Officer Mark Miller said the firm has as much gas per square mile in Bowland as the successful North American shale plays, adding that Cuadrilla found nearly four times more gas than it was expecting to discover.
However, the firm was also quick to state that the 200 tcf estimate, which it said has not been independently verified, is “preliminary” and “does not constitute certified reserves.”
Cuadrilla said the estimate is based on its own assessment of its results from two wells drilled to date and historical data from three 10-15 year old wells drilled by British Gas. A third well is under way.
Cuadrilla’s estimate applies to its 437 sq mile license area located between Blackpool and Preston. The Bowland shale rock formation lies 10,000 ft beneath the surface.
Cuadrilla said further exploration and investment is required to confirm the gas-in-place estimate and to assess the proportion that is likely to be recoverable.
“A further 5-7 exploration wells will be drilled by Cuadrilla over the next 18 months before a decision is made on whether or not to proceed with commercial development of the Bowland basin prospect,” the firm said.
Analyst Claudia Mahn of IHS Global Insight, who called Cuadrilla’s estimate “mind-blowing,” said the firm’s gas-in-place estimates exceed all prior expectations for shale gas resources in the UK.
“The UK Geological Services had pegged the country's potential unconventional gas reserves at only 5.3 tcf, and Cuadrilla's find could dwarf some of the North Sea's largest gas developments,” Mahn said.
Cuadrilla’s announcement has raised speculation that the UK could become self-sufficient in gas once more. The country lost its self-sufficiency in 2004, after North Sea gas production entered a steady decline.
Tim Yeo, chairman of Parliament’s Energy Select Committee, hailed Cuadrilla’s announcement as very good news and more significant than he had anticipated. Yeo saw no practical or regulatory reason to prevent development of shale gas in the UK.
The Bowland basin prospect is 75% owned by Cuadrilla, with AJ Lucas owning the remaining interest.
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