Unconventional shale gas has been discovered in the waters off Liverpool by IGas. Shale gas is natural gas lodged within shale rock, until recently largely inaccessible. Financial viability has increased with the expansion of hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – the pumping of complex and polluting liquids into the rocks, to fracture them horizontally. This has led to major concerns across the US over water pollution. It’s highly likely that to access the hydrocarbons off Liverpool, IGas will need to frack in the bay.
According to the Oil & Gas Journal,
“IGas Energy PLC said it has identified a “significant” shale resource as potentially extending more than 1,195 sq km of its acreage in northwest England with an expected average thickness of 250 m.
“These shales are understood to be hydrocarbon-bearing as they have been locally demonstrated to be the source rock for hydrocarbons in the Liverpool Bay area,” IGas said.
“The potential of delivering shale gas is particularly exciting, as this sector has seen significant growth in North America and increased interest across continental Europe,” Austin said.
The UK is one of several countries in Europe where exploration for shale gas is being carried out by international oil and gas companies. Others include Sweden, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, and Hungary.
In addition to work by Royal Dutch Shell PLC in Sweden, ExxonMobil Corp. is exploring Lower Saxony, while OMV is testing formations near Vienna. By yearend, ConocoPhillips and 3 Legs Resources are expected to have test results from northern Poland (OGJ Online, Sept. 21, 2009).
Mostly, IGas focuses on exploring for coal bed methane, gas held within coal seams.