Fracking for oil and gas in UK not viable claims geologist

Fracking for oil and gas in the UK may produce much less fuel and profits than what has been suggested, according to research based on seismic imaging of the country's underlying geology.

Most of the areas potentially holding onshore ''unconventional'' gas and oil were hit by tectonic activity along the Atlantic plate about 55 million years ago.

Due to the tilt of the UK and the folding of underground geological layers, the fossil fuel deposits have been dispersed into small pockets and subjected to other forces, making them less suitable for shale gas and oil production, according to professor John Underhill, of Heriot-Watt University.

''These areas have been lifted up, buckled and depressurised, which has rendered them cooler than the optimal temperatures for oil and gas production,'' he told The Guardian. ''The resultant complexity means these are not good places for hydrocarbons.''

According to Underhill, in optimistic assessments of the UK's shale gas capability, ''the geology has been forgotten, but the geology is fundamental.''

The British Geological Survey reported in 2013 the likely presence of 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas buried beneath the ground. But it was silent about how much of it might be accessible. According to Underhill, the amount in suitable areas may be much less.

According to Underhill rocks containing shale deposits in the UK are riddled with fractures.

They are "like a pane of shattered glass" and will make large scale fracking unviable.

Prof Underhill doubts whether the UK's geology was suitable for fracking.

The present day debate about whether or not to frack is rooted in the US experience of onshore fracking of underground shale deposits to produce gas.

According to fracking's proponents, it has lowered energy prices and made the US self-sufficient in gas.

Meanwhile, opponents of fracking have raised deeply held environmental concerns, among them water contamination, waste and gas escapes.