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Fossil Fuels

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN HL6792, tabled on 9 March 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the amount of (1) North Sea (a) oil, and (b) gas, and (2) shale gas, in the UK; and under what circumstances they would exploit such resources.

Answered on

23 March 2022

According to data published by the Oil and Gas Authority in 2021 (based on 2020 data) and set out on the North Sea Transition Authority’s website, oil reserves and resources in the UK Continental Shelf stand at 7.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, as well as 560 billion cubic metres of gas, based on ‘probable’, ‘proven’ and ‘contingent’ reserves and resources. It is not possible to say with certainty how much of this could or will be extracted, as this will be driven by a range of commercial and regulatory factors, however UK oil and gas production is expected to decline over time in line with the natural decline of the UK Continental Shelf basin coupled with a decrease in domestic demand for natural gas. The Oil and Gas Authority has published a report titled “UK Oil and Gas Reserves and Resources Report 2021” on their website which includes further information on UK reserves and resources.

As set out on the British Geological Society’s website, estimates of the total gas-in-place for the Bowland Shale Formation and Hodder Mudstone Formation vary. Initial estimates were between 822 and 2281 trillion cubic feet (tcf). However, other estimates have suggested the total gas-in-place volume could be considerably less, around 140 tcf.

The Government has been clear that shale gas development must be safe and sustainable – both for local communities and the environment. On the basis of the current scientific evidence, the Government has confirmed that it will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents, which are required before hydraulic fracturing operations can take place. Even if the current moratorium were lifted, development would also need to secure environmental permitting and planning consents, and it would take some years of exploration and development before commercial quantities of gas could be produced.