A shale gas energy boom in the UK? Fracking company IGas ups its estimate of gas reserves tenfold

  • @BawdenTom

Fracking company IGas today ramped up the estimate of its shale gas reserves in the North-West by more than 10 times.

Shares in the AIM-listed group jumped 16 per cent after the increase, from about nine trillion cubic feet to roughly 100 trillion cubic feet, which is expected to satisfy nearly seven years of the UK’s entire gas demand.

Chief executive Andrew Austin said the reserves were hugely significant, even though it would only be commercially and practically viable to extract a relatively small portion of this — about a fifth, according to analysts — implying about 20 trillion cubic feet.

With Britain’s total gas consumption coming in at about three trillion cubic feet a year, about half of which is imported, 20 trillion cubic feet equates to almost seven years of UK demand. Austin said: “The licences have a very significant shale gas resource with the potential to transform the company and materially benefit the communities in which we operate.

“Our estimates for our area alone could mean that the UK would not have to import gas for a period of 10 to 15 years.”

IGas’ shares increased by 14.8p to 107.5p. The company has plans to begin drilling in the area later this year to get a more precise estimate of how much gas is contained in the rocks, and how much it can recover.

Shale gas is extracted using the controversial practice of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which releases the gas by blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the rock and has been linked to earth quakes and water pollution.