UK shale progress at “glacial pace” with only 11 wells scheduled for 2015

Drilling rig
Source: DollarPhotoClub

The progress on UK shale exploration has been “glacially slow” according to the UK daily The Guardian, with only eleven wells planned to be drilled in 2015 and just nine wells – eight new and one existing – announced as candidates for fracking.

The list was compiled by the newspaper itself as neither the trade body representing the industry, the United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) nor the Department of Energy and Climate Change collects this type of data.

The number is very disappointing given the full support the government has given to shale exploration and the fact that, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the UK has put together the world’s most generous tax regime for shale exploration.

According to The Guardian, a total of seven shale gas wells appear to have been drilled so far, in Lancashire and Cheshire. Ministers and the industry say that 30-40 wells will need to be drilled to assess the real potential of shale gas to UK gas supplies, although it is commonly agreed that in order to assess the viability of a shale play, at least 100 wells need to be drilled.

The industry says that despite the number of wells being low, a lot of work has been carried out ‘behind the scenes’ in preparation for later production.

Ken Cronin of the UKOOG said: “I think it [the number of wells] underestimates the amount of work done by each individual operator, bearing in mind we’ve had changes in planning, changes in permitting, etc. You should see more results of that groundwork over the course of the next 12-18 months.” He said the figure of 11 wells was a “reasonable” assessment, but he said that UKOOG did not collect exact numbers.

The main players when it comes to shale gas in the UK are: Cuadrilla, IGas and Third Energy, working in consortia with bigger players including Total, GDF Suez and Centrica. A recent newcomer to the shale gas party is the owner of the Grangemouth plant, Ineos, which in November last year pledged to invest £640 million in shale gas exploration.

Shale gas wells to be drilled:

  • Preston New Road, Cuadrilla (4 wells)
  • Roseacre Hall, Cuadrilla (4)
  • North-west site location TBC, iGas (1)
  • East Midlands site location TBC, iGas (1)
  • Wisborough Green, Celtique Energie (1)

Shale wells to be fracked:

  • Preston New Road, Cuadrilla (4)
  • Roseacre Hall, Cuadrilla (4)
  • KM8 at Kirby Misperton, Third Energy (1)

Shale gas wells drilled already:

  • Becconsall site, Cuadrilla
  • Grange Hill, Cuadrilla
  • Preese Hall, Cuadrilla
  • Ince Marshes, iGas
  • Merseyton Road / Ellesmere Port, iGas
  • Barton Moss in Salford, iGas

Source: The Guardian

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