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UK has US shale geologies, claims Ineos

The claim was made at the Royal Society of Chemistry as the company announced its plans to invest $1 billion (£640m) in UK shale gas development, focussed on areas of the North of England and Scotland’s Midland Valley.

Speaking at the event in London, Ineos Upstream consultant geologist Kent Bowker said he had looked at data previously examined by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and concluded there were many areas that showed potential to be similar in their characteristics to US shale plays.

“There is a similarity to Barnett and other shale plays, and I’m very optimistic that we will get commercial production from the UK,” said Bowker, who has been hired by Ineos following his work with pioneering US shale gas company Mitchell Energy.

“The geology seems to be there, although we won’t know until we start drilling.”

Bowker’s comments come in contrast to those made last month by BGS team leader for unconventional oil & gas Nick Riley, who said UK geology was far more complex than the US, with the largest shale gas reserves located in thick isolated pockets, rather than the continuous layer cake found in many US shale plays.

However, Bowker said that while he acknowledged the greater complexity of geology in parts of the UK than in the US, there were still potential areas were shale gas could be easily extracted.

“The thing that I bring to this that may be different to other geologists in the UK that have looked at the data is experience of knowing which geologies have worked in the US,” he said.

“From the data I have seen there are some simple shale layers that remind me of successful shale layers in the US. I know that there are big thick piles of shale with lots of gas, but they not be the best place economically to get shale gas.”

Bowker, along with his former Mitchell Energy colleagues Dan Steward and Nick Steinsberger, has been working with Ineos Upstream since May to identify the best sites to bid for in the current licensing round.

The company has bid for exploration licenses in the north of England. If successful with all its applications then these and the two licenses in has already acquired in Scotland’s Midland Valley will require £640 million of exploration investment.

Speaking at the Royal Society of Chemistry yesterday, Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe said he expected the majority of exploratory drilling to take place in 2015 and 2016.

Looking further ahead to potential production, Steward confirmed that Ineos would carry out so-called “green completions” (see box below) on all of its projects.

“We didn’t vent methane at Mitchell Energy, theses guys (Ineos) don’t do it and I don’t believe your government would allow it,” said Steward.

Process Engineering
Published on:
November 21, 2014
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