According to Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Fracking has come “55 million years too late” to be an effective means of Natural Gas extraction.
Chief Scientist Professor John Underhill claims that Fracking, an “overhyped” technique, will come across shale gas reservoirs that were damaged by seismic activity 55 million years ago, which will have inevitably allowed prolonged leakage.
Fracking has come under staunch criticism in recent years as the process of drilling and injecting fluid into shale under high pressures has been blamed for a number of small earthquakes worldwide.
Professor Underhill stated: “Both sides of the hydraulic fracturing debate assume that the geology is a ’slam dunk’ and it will work if exploration drilling goes ahead.”
“Public support for fracking is at an all-time low of 17%, based in the main on environmental concerns, but the science shows that our country’s geology is simply unsuitable for shale oil and gas production. The assumption that because fracking works in the US, it must also work here is wrong.
“For hydraulic fracturing to be successful, several geological criteria must be met. The source rock should have a high organic content, a good thickness, be sufficiently porous and have the right mineralogy. The organic matter must have been buried to a sufficient depth and heated to the degree that the source rock produces substantial amounts of gas or oil.”
“However, in locations where fulfilment of some of the criteria have led to large potential deposits, uplift and the faulted structure of the basins are detrimental to its ultimate recovery.”
“Yet, the only question that has been addressed to date is how large the shale resource is in the UK. The inherent complexity of the sedimentary basins has not been fully appreciated or articulated and, as a result, the opportunity has been overhyped.”
The sites Professor Underhill believes deformation would have occurred at include: Bowland Shale in Lancashire, West Lothian Oil Shale in Scotland and the Weald Basin in South East England.
Professor Underhill also stated: “Areas that were once buried sufficiently deeply with temperatures at which oil and gas maturation occurs, lifted to levels where they are no longer actively generating petroleum.”
“They have also been highly deformed by folds and faults that cause the shales to be offset and broken up into compartments. This has created pathways that have allowed some of the oil and gas to escape.”
“There is a need to factor this considerable and fundamental geological uncertainty into the economic equation. It would be extremely unwise to rely on shale gas to ride to the rescue of the UK’s gas needs only to discover that we’re 55 million years too late.”