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Study reveals South's shale gas and oil reserves

The British Geological Survey (BGS) publishes a long-awaited study into the extent of shale gas reserves in the south of England.

According to the Times it is expected to show reserves in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

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Southern 'oil bonanza' could be hard to extract

A geological expert has said that even if there is an 'oil bonanza' in the south, then the reserves could be difficult to extract.

Professor Andrew Aplin, from Durham University has identified three problems that he thinks could affect the exploitation of reserves identified in the Weald area, which spans Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey.

He said:

The interesting question is how much of the oil that has been identified might be recoverable. A careful look at the data in the report suggests that much of the oil in the shales is tightly bound to the rock and therefore difficult or impossible to produce. If there is any free, and therefore potentially producible, oil in the shales, there are two further problems. Much of the shale sequence in the Weald is clay-rich, which US experience suggests is difficult to fracture effectively.

Also, the chemistry of the oil in much of the area is likely to be quite heavy and thus will not flow easily; in contrast, the shale oil which is being currently produced from areas such as the Eagle Ford in the USA is much lighter and thus flows more easily. This relates to the temperature to which the shales have been buried in the geological past."

– Professor Andrew Aplin, Durham University

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