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The UK will need to have one well per day fracked in the period between 2021 and 2035 if it wants to reduce its natural gas imports by 50 percent, a report from Cardiff Business School has estimated. The report was commissioned by Friends of the Earth.
This rate of well fracking means a total of 6,100 wells will need to be drilled in the country over the 14-year period and will involve land takeover on a very large scale, the report’s authors concluded.
Not everyone agrees with these findings, however. The Guardian quoted Ken Cronin, head of an industry trade body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, as saying “This is a poor quality report, which uses data for well productivity which is years out of date and far lower than the current US average to arrive at artificially high numbers of wells.”
The report assumes an average of six wells per pad and an average pad size of 3.5 hectares for the central scenario, and it also assumes a rate of ultimate recovery of 57 million cubic meters of natural gas. This compares with estimated demand for natural gas of 990 billion cubic meters and estimated import requirements of 695 billion cubic meters.
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However, the estimated ultimate recovery rate in this scenario—as well as the ones for the optimistic and low scenarios—is taken from a report from 2014, so Cronin does have grounds for criticizing the conclusions: the 2014 price collapse spurred an innovation rush in the shale patch to improve productivity.
In any case, the future of shale gas in the UK is not necessarily bright. Although earlier this month local shale producer Cuadrilla drilled the first horizontal well in the country, in the Bowland shale, but it has not completed it, awaiting final government approval. There is strong opposition to fracking in the UK, but also not a whole lot of options for replacing imported gas with domestic production.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.