There are “billions of barrels” of oil in shale rocks under large parts of southern England, according to a new report.
A study of the South by the British Geological Survey (BGS), extending from Salisbury in the west to Ashford in the east, maps out the vast areas that could potentially be targeted for fracking.
The fracking process involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into rock at high pressure which has sparked demonstrations by environmentalists.
The new report, commissioned by DECC, estimates there are between 2.2 billion and 8.6 billion barrels of shale oil in the Weald Basin – that covers areas including Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and Kent. The figures represent the total amount of oil in the rocks but it is not known what percentage could be commercially extracted.
The report states: “Weald Basin shale oil has the potential to add to the country’s resource base but with only limited well control and no flow testing from the basin’s shales, it is not yet possible to make an estimate of the amount of shale oil that might ultimately be produced from the basin.”
It however concluded there is “no significant shale gas potential” in the region.
A BGS study last year of the North of England suggested there could be as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas contained in shale rocks.
The report comes on the same day the Government proposed new rules regarding rights to access land in a bid to speed up fracking.