Shale World UK 2016 - Conference review

07Jun / 2016

Shale World UK 2016 – Conference review

Taking place at the ILEC Conference Centre in London, Shale World UK 2016 is the largest shale and onshore gas and oil event in the country.

This year’s conference brought together industry experts from around the country to deliberate the big questions around shale development in the UK. With over 35 exhibitors and in excess of 400 delegates, discussion centred around the potential of the industry, it’s responsible development, public messaging, and the role of shale in the UK’s transition to low carbon and renewable fuels.

One of the keynote presentations came from Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). She raised the big enquiry of the day; ‘It is not a question of whether we want gas or not – the question is how much we want to rely on gas from abroad.’ This needs to be answered against the back drop of ‘removing coal from power generation by 2025’ and the point that ‘shale gas can provide a bridge to a greener future’.

Whilst reinstating the government’s well-known support for an emerging shale gas industry, Andrea Leadsom stressed the importance of limiting shale gas development to appropriate locations and maintaining the safety of communities and the environment. The fervour of her support for the industry was clear, accentuating the potential for shale to improve the UK’s energy security, create jobs, improve the UK’s balance of payments and reduce CO2 emissions.

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The panel discussion focussed on the big message for the public; where does our energy come from? Generating public awareness of the real context of fuel generation – that all forms of energy have associated environmental impacts – is an ongoing challenge. Ken Cronin of the United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group (UKOG) made the interesting comparison with an industry that had only a 3% public approval rating and protestors demanding a moratorium when it was introduced in 2000. That industry was mobile phone masts, which are accepted today with demand for more.

The conference speakers focussed their attention on the breadth of available methods of onshore energy generation in the UK. Graham Dean of Reach Energy who has the Barrow in Furness Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) and want to drill ‘onshore to offshore’ for shale gas. As there isn’t a UK onshore midstream industry he believes it will take 10 years to ramp up to full production. In that time it is expected that a typical well pad could produce 200 bcf and possibly as much as 500 bcf by 2026.

Matt Cartwright and Stephen Sanderson (UKOG) spoke about the Gatwick Gusher which at its Horse Hill site is highly prospective with promising test flows producing light oil with no water (it is also naturally fractured and therefore requires no additional action). This one exploration well produced 1,700 BOPD without any pressure depletion, and it is believed that a full horizontal production well could produce three to ten times this volume. With a fully developed production field developed on brownfield sites, there is potential of producing between 4% and 27% of the UK’s daily demand.

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At the beginning of May, for the first time in the UK since 1885, electricity was not generated by burning coal. No-one noticed that this was achieved through an increased use of gas. Mark Lappin of Centrica brought this to delegate’s attention in his upbeat presentation discussing ‘what happens next’. He outlined future options for shale gas, including directing it straight to the national gas grid, direct to electricity at the well pad (gas to wire), well pad to LPG or shale gas to hydrogen.

Dan Sadler of Northern Gas Networks discussed the H21 Leeds City Gate feasibility study which looks at converting shale gas to hydrogen and piping it through the existing network to domestic users. This conversion can be achieved through the tried and testing Steam Methane Reforming process. When coupled with Carbon Capture and Storage, conversion to hydrogen would easily allow the UK to meet its Climate Change Act obligations with an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

This positive conference provided valuable insight into the variety of carefully developed onshore resources as well as their sustainable counterparts. The presentations offered food for thought concerning perceptions of onshore petroleum industry and how these can be managed.

Shale World UK 2017 has been scheduled and you can register your interest here.

For more information on GGS services to Onshore Petroleum and Shale, click here.