Cuadrilla Resources became the first company to drill for shale gas in Europe when it was given permission to drill into the Bowland Shale formation in Northern England in July this year. The Bowland Shale formation is 10,000 ft below ground level and runs from Pendle Hill in Lancashire all the way to the Irish Sea.
After drilling 4000 ft down at a site in Westby, east of Blackpool, the company has confirmed the existence of shale gas in the formation. Now that the company knows that gas is present in the formation, the next big challenge is extracting it commercially.
Cuadrilla has previously stated that the formation could meet from 5 – 10% of the UK’s energy needs, but it is now proposing that reserves could exceed this estimate. The company will now move its drilling rig to another site located in the Bowland Shale formation to assess the total reserves of the formation.
The discovery of shale gas in the US has completely changed the dynamics of its energy markets and upgraded North America from being a gas importer to being capable of becoming a net exporter. Given that the UK’s reserves of oil and gas from North Sea sources have reached peak production and are now entering a slow production decline, the discovery of commercial shale gas on UK soil will be good news for the country’s energy security plans.
Cuadrilla is hoping to start the extraction process in January and plans to be flaring gas on the surface in February.