The UK has so much onshore shale gas it would have offshore operators licking their lips, the chief operating officer of IGas told an industry conference this morning.
But John Blaymires, speaking to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said meaningful production was unlikely before the end of the decade.
Mr Blaymires, whose company drills for oil and gas in the Weald, north west England and the east Midlands, said: “The volume of gas you are talking about – if you were operating offshore – you would be licking your lips at the concept of a field of that size and we are talking about onshore”.
Even if only 10% of the shale gas in northern England could be recovered, it would supply the country for 40-50 years, he said.
But Mr Blaymires said there was unlikely to be any meaningful production until the end of the decade.
“We should be able to get some commercial production earlier than that”, he said. “But given the way things have been going, realistically, we are talking about 2019-20, for anything meaningful.”
Mr Blaymires said the supply chain had been critical to the success of the US shale industry and it would be key to the development of UK shale. But the supply chain had to operate more cheaply than the offshore equivalent, he said.
He said . “We have a supply chain for the North Sea. Now we need one geared for onshore”, he said. “What we can’t do is operate on a North Sea cost basis. It has to be done differently”.
Mr Blaymires said a UK shale industry would not have as many sites on the ground as in the US. He said the pattern in Texas with wells every 250 yards would be untenable in the UK.
He said the UK had the advantage of thicker layers of shale than the US. Each UK site could have 10 wells and drain gas from several square kilometres. “We could be tapping into enormous volume of gas from one site”, he said.
- John Blaymires was talking at the UK Shale Gas summit, orgaised by the Instituion of Mechanical Engineers. Our other reports from the summit: