Safeguarding Scotland’s Energy Resources
Scotland was a leader in the development of oil shale with extensive mining undertaken in the Midland Valley of central Scotland up until the 1960’s when the Industry could no longer compete against lower cost “conventional” oil.
An enduring legacy of the shale oil Industry is Scotland’s only refinery, Grangemouth. The Grangemouth refinery is a major employer, a major supplier of refined products and contributes around 3.7% of Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP). Until recently the primary feedstock for the refinery had been North Sea oil and gas. In September 2016 the refinery returned to its shale roots and started using ethane from United States (US) shale gas. Ethane is now supplied continuously to Grangemouth from the US via “dragon ships”.
In the area adjacent to and underneath the refinery, at a depth of around 2,000m, there is estimated to be between 49.4 and 134.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 3.2 to 11.2 billion barrels of oil within carboniferous shales. Can this resource be developed and used at Grangemouth in place of imported ethane ? This question was explored at the Mining Institute of Scotland meeting on the 11th January where John Hunter, a wells team leader, with Ineos gave a very informative Technical presentation of plans being put forward by Ineos to appraise and develop Scottish shale resources. John highlighted multiple studies undertaken by Government and Professional bodies that have concluded that the United Kingdom has one of the most robust safety regimes in the world and that oil and gas could be extracted safely from deep shales. The question as to whether or not economic recovery can be achieved has yet to be answered through appraisal drilling and well tests. While drilling is ongoing in England to find answers to this fundamental question there is no scheduled drilling in Scotland.
John Hunter’s presentation can be downloaded here. (PDF 5.4 mb)