Jurassic shale of the Wessex area: resource estimation report

In October 2016, the BGS, in association with the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), completed an estimate for the amount of shale oil and shale gas in the Jurassic of the Wessex area. This is an extension to the Weald Basin study in south-east England that was published on 23 May 2014.

The estimate is in the form of a range to reflect geological uncertainty. The range of shale oil in place is estimated to be between 0.2 and 2.8 billion barrels (bbl) or 32 and 378 million tonnes, but the central estimate for the resource is 1.1 billion bbl or 149 million tonnes.

No significant gas resource is recognised using the current geological model. This is mainly because the shale is not thought to have reached the geological maturity required to generate gas.

The figure for oil represents the total amount of oil present in the rocks. It is not known what percentage of the oil present in the shale could be commercially extracted. In order to estimate the shale-oil reserve, drilling and testing of new wells will be required to give a better idea of oil production rates.

In addition, non-geological factors such as oil price, operating costs and the scale of development agreed by the local planning system will affect the amount of oil produced.

Shale oil clearly has potential in Britain, but it will require geological and engineering expertise, investment, and protection of the environment. It will also need organisations like the BGS to play their part in providing up to date and accurate information on resources and the environment to the public, industry and government.


Download the Wessex Area Extension to the Weald Basin Shale Study from the OGA.

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