* Resources in Scotland's populous central belt
* Most British shale in northern England
* Licensing round for drillers due this summer
* No fracking for extraction has yet been started
LONDON, June 30 Scotland, heading for a
September independence referendum, could hold enough shale gas
resources to cover UK gas needs for more than 30 years, a
geological report published by the British government showed on
But Scotland's roughly 80 trillion cubic metres of gas is
only around 6 percent of Britain's potential, with the rest
mainly in the Bowland Shale region across northern England.
The British Geological Survey report, the third focusing on
high potential areas which have covered northern and southern
England, said the populous Midland Valley area of Scotland also
holds around 6 billion barrels of shale oil.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon set the findings firmly in
the context of Scotland potentially splitting from Britain.
"Only the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom can attract
investment in new energy sources and maintain the UK's position
as one of the world's great energy hubs - generating energy and
generating jobs," he said in a statement
Britain is betting on the development of shale gas to help
curb its growing dependence on imports and to stem a decline in
oil and gas tax receipts as output from the mature North Sea
basin falls rapidly.
Scotland already produces the bulk of Britain's oil and gas
and estimates for future conventional fossil fuel production
show this is set to continue.
In total, the three BGS reports on unconventional oil and
gas resources showed Britain has around 1,409 trillion cubic
feet of shale gas and 10.4 billion tonnes of shale oil in place.
These estimates are based on scarce data and further
exploratory drilling needs to be undertaken to determine how
much shale oil and gas can actually be recovered, the BGS said.
None of Britain's shale gas explorers have yet undertaken
any hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, whereby shale gas is
extracted from deep rock formations by breaking it using water,
sand and chemicals.
The shale gas industry is gearing up for Britain's first
onshore oil and gas licensing round in six years that will allow
companies to bid for permits in shale oil and gas areas.
Some of the companies active in Britain's shale market are
IGas, Egdon Resources and Cuadrilla.
"This report will give reassurance to investors who wish to
explore for oil and gas onshore in Scotland," said Ken Cronin,
chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group representing
Some critics of shale gas, including environmental groups,
claim shale gas extraction damages the environment because of
harmful chemicals it uses.
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by William Hardy)