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The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) commissioned the British Geological Survey (BGS) to summarize the available geological knowledge, integrate new seismic mapping and well analysis, and make preliminary in-place resource assessments for the three most prospective areas onshore Britain to foster a greater understanding of the unconventional shale resource potential in advance of the 14th Landward Licensing Round.

The first study, published in June 2013, reviewed the Carboniferous Bowland–Hodder shales across central Britain where a large volume of in-place gas was assessed to be present. The second study, of the Jurassic shale of the Weald Basin in southern England, published in May 2014, concluded that owing to insufficient burial there was no significant Jurassic shale gas potential, but there could still be shale oil resources at several levels in the centre of the basin. The third study, published in June 2014, covered the Midland Valley of Scotland where both oil and gas potential in Carboniferous shales was identified.

A large volume of in-place gas and oil resource has been assessed to be present. However, not enough is known at the time of writing to estimate a recovery factor or to estimate potential producible reserves. This paper summarizes the results of the BGS reports and their impact on the subsequent licensing process in England.

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