A method that can be used to predict shale gas reserves is presented in a study in Nature Communications. Using this process and extrapolating for the whole of the Bowland Shale formation in the UK, the paper suggests that reserves may total less than 10 years of gas at current rates of UK consumption.
Estimates of shale gas reserves are required to help shape energy policy in countries where production has not yet commenced, and that are becoming increasingly dependent on imported natural gas - one example being the UK. Previous research suggests that the gas reserves for the entire Bowland Shale could roughly equate to 50 years of economically recoverable supplies at current levels of consumption. However, it has been suggested that the reserve levels calculated may be a significant over-estimation.
In this study, Colin Snape and colleagues developed a novel pyrolysis procedure, which they demonstrate to be the most appropriate laboratory regime to simulate shale gas generation in geological basins. This allowed the authors to draw comparisons between shale gas estimates from laboratory results and those from measurements of recently reported field data of core samples. The authors suggest that the major shale gas reserves in the UK are an order of magnitude lower than previously thought.
Further studies are required to further refine estimates of shale gas reserves.