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Guitar groups are on the way out

These* were the legendary words with which Decca Records rejected the Beatles after an audition in 1962. I couldn't help thinking of this when I read Nick Grealy's post this morning on the subject of the size of the UK shale gas resource. Reporting on a presentation made by DECC at a conference earlier this year, Grealy reveals that the Bowland shale may actually be dwarfed by some of its neighbours.

In the Bowland Basin, the total Bowland-Hodder unit is interpreted to reach a thickness of up to 1900 m (6300 ft), but the interval may be much thicker within the narrow, fault-bounded Gainsborough, Edale and Widmerpool basins (Figs. 4 & 5; up to 3000 m / 10000 ft, 3500 m / 11500 ft, and 2900 m / 9500 ft respectively). 

11500 feet is something of the order of two miles. That's a lot of shale. This figure from the DECC presentation gives a feel for what we are talking about:

The Bowland Shale - the beast of Blackpool, is represented by some of the little tiddlers on the left. But look at the size of Long Eaton!

Didn't someone say the other day that guitar bands were on the way out that the UK had a "paucity of shale reserves"? Well perhaps. We are only talking about potential. But would you bet against the whole lot being uneconomic? There was a lot of life in finger-picking as I recall.

*[corrected 8.14 am 18.12.12 BH]

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Reader Comments (31)

Brilliant headline - Bish.

Definitely destined for TOTP!

Dec 17, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

OT I post this for info - from the colonies (Australia)

"Unlike the BBC, the ABC acknowledges there are climate scientists who question the core thinking about climate science," she said.

"The ABC gives them and their views air time."

Obviously this must be a different BBC than the one we have here ?

Dec 17, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Interesting that the ABC is fingering the BBC as "institutionally alarmist" - could the be the start of a race back to sanity?

Dec 17, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Opportunity for a cover version of the old 'Quo' classic 'Down Down Deeper and Down'
Possibly by 'Bowland Shale and the Frackers'

Dec 17, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJesus Green

They could also do:

'(Theme from) Shaft' (Isaac Hayes) &
'Oh Well!' (Early Fleetwoods)

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJesus Green

Andrew Rawnsley went into print this weekend in The Observer with the claim that UK shales are "thinner" than US.

His adviser on this was the old Vneshtorg Bank, close allies of Gazprom.

Ho hum.

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Worstall

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Jesus Green

Middle Fleetwoods I would call that!

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

One of the maps in the DECC report shows that the shale in some parts of Cuadrilla's license is just as thick as their neighbours (11,000 feet). They have been hiding their light under a bushell. Policy probably was "lets tell the government we have a really good shale resource here but lets not tell them exactly how good"

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Probably far more under the North Sea.

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Bradley

In the weird green world, the argument that there is not much gas is an argument for not using any of it. In which case there may as well be none.

Just like Elvis is no longer in the building - logic left the green building a long time ago.

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

In the US shale is property of landowner, here it's the Crown.

Could the powers that be (under Warmist pressure) destroy shale gas' potential by deliberately taxing it to be unaffordable?

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Philip Bradley

Both shale oil and shale gas under the Irish sea as well hehe

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterDung


That is what I expected but the sheer size of what is being discovered means (I think) that they will have to go with it now. As someone said on another thread; now that the genie is out of the bottle it is not going back in again ^.^

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Your Grace

May I bring to your attention this slight faux pas no doubt caused by pressure of work:

This were the legendary words

[Thanks, now done. BH]

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Registered CommenterDung

‘We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out’ – Decca record executive on the Beatles

also from my collection...

Hard as it is to believe, The Beatles were rejected by Decca Records in early 1962 after recording an audition tape for the British label. That failed demo recording has long been available as a bootleg, but until yesterday, when auction house The Fame Bureau put a first-generation copy of the recording up for sale, official masters have been impossible to come by.

No word yet on who won yesterday’s auction, but because The Beatles own the copyright to the tunes contained on the tape, there will probably not be an official commercial release of the newly unearthed recordings.

Recorded on New Year’s Day, 1962, the tape features 10 of the songs played during the Decca session. With Pete Best on drums, The Beatles covered Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee” and Barrett Strong’s “Money”, among others, and also ran through such early Lennon-McCartney compositions as “Like Dreamers Do” and “Love of the Loved”.

"The most important thing about this is the quality," said Ted Owen of the Fame Bureau. "There are bootlegs out there, horrible bootlegs -- some are at the wrong speed, others are crackly and taken from a cassette off an acetate [disc]. This quality we have never heard."

Upon hearing the recordings, Decca A&R man Dick Rowe dismissed the band with this terse statement to Beatles manager Brian Epstein: “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein.”

Oops! Smooth move Mr. Rowe. But don’t worry about Dick: he went on to sign The Rolling Stones, and that band did okay for themselves.

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

Some homework

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Can't wait for shale's first UK hit ;) The US invasion ?

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Would it be impertinent to point out that over 50 years later guitar bands STILL didnt go out of fashion! ^.^

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Registered CommenterDung

@Pharos 10:59 and interested others: here's the other volume (or "A lithostratigraphical framework for the Carboniferous successions of northern Great Britain (onshore))":

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:30 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Did you notice the yesterday's pathetic article by Garry White and Emma Rowley in the Telegraph where they contemptuously refer to "the streak of shale under Lancashire" having pointed out that shale is a "greasy black rock which leaves your fingers dirty if you touch it".

I love it when middle-class greenies display their disdain for all to see. Remember Tristan, where there's much there's brass!

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBraqueish

Keep in mind the whole subject is dominated by manipulated prices worldwide and keep in mind one of the caps on crude oil price is the price of methane.

The process of methane to fuel oil is well established and a matter of turnkey, it is also a catastrophic change which has produced sharp policy changes in the past to stop plant investment. Once that is done a barrier is broken.

Don't know the current price but was at one time cited at $45 on crude.

Dec 18, 2012 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered Commentertchannon

Ah , Beatles and Blacburn. Fits together somehow i think., .because ever since the 200 trillion cu.ft. estimate became public, I suffer from a recurrent flashback (triggered by the word Bowland or Bowland shale )
hearing Lennon singing about "4000 holes on Blacburn Lancashire. ..." :-).

Dec 18, 2012 at 3:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterBjörn

Just a word of caution.

I don't mean to sound anti-Beatlist, but not a single cubic centimetre of shale gas has made it out of the ground in UK yet. Not a Christmas turkey roasted, nor a pensioner kept from fuel poverty hypothermia.

So we haven't solved our energy problems. Shale gas certainly looks like it could have a lot of potential and may even be a game changer for us. Nobody would be more delighted than me if it comes to pass.

But celebrations, hollering and whoops of joy are pretty premature. History is littered with disappointments when supposedly vast underground resources turn out to nothing of the sort.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Dec 18, 2012 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

On the link is a reference to the DECC presentation at Prospex 2012. I attended that presentation which was given by Toni Harvey of DECC. DECC has commissioned the BGS to prepare the report on the shale resource potential, but they have yet to report - should be early next year. The mapping is awkward as it is made from 2D seismic lines. Some parts, including the Cleveland Basin, have not yet been mapped (see the maps as figure 3 and 4 in the linked report).

It is clear that the thickness of the shales is very large in some areas. However, note that because of the low permeability of shale, any gas is generated in-situ. This means that the shale has to be in the maturity (cooking) window in order for the gas to be produced, because it cannot migrate. For a very thick shale this means that part of the interval may be in the gas window (which is deeper) and part in the oil generation window. (The maturity window is the depth/pressure/temperature at which the organic material in the shale is cooked/cracked to oil or gas). The view of DECC is that, depending on the shale depth, the potential shale resource could include production of liquids, sweet gas or sour gas. In general, TOC (total organic carbon) content is good, with the right Kerogen. Brittle zones are also present (which you need to be able to frack effectively) and the thermal maturity is generally good.

Regarding Southern England, once you get too far south you have the issue of the Variscan front to consider. Geologically, anything south of the Variscan is essentially already cooked and is not likely to produce much. However there is potential, for example in the Lias shales which are also the source rock for the Wytch Farm oil field, plus maybe some Kimmeridge (although the Kimmeridge is at outcrop Bay and so will not be mature).

At PRospex 2012 I spoke with a number of onshore operators I know. Several (eg Third Energy) already have small gas power generation plants running onshore, with gas production from conventional reservoirs. They are simply planning with their next wells to just keep drilling past their norma targets right into the shale and see what happens.

Dec 18, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

To invoke a metaphor sometimes preferred by the odd warmist (no! not Lewandowsky); the frakking train is about to leave the station.

Dec 18, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterBullocky

Sounds like there are going to be another 10000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire soon. Maybe we will turn the Albert Hall into a Gasometer?

Dec 18, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAmoorhouse

Could the powers that be (under Warmist pressure) destroy shale gas' potential by deliberately taxing it to be unaffordable?

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Stuck-Record

I would have thought that the Treasury would be eyeing this opportunity for reducing the national debt with a very beady eye. It would not be in their interests to tax it to make it unaffordable. It could be their salvation.

Dec 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

Did anyone hear trougher-in-chief Tim Yeo this AM on Radio 4 calling for a carbon limit on electricity production, which would effectively sideline shale in favour of renewables, however much gas there may be. Yet again the BBC, obediantly, did not ask what financial interest he has in renewables...

Dec 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDantheMan

Let us not forget though the UK invented the hydrocarbon from shale business, and we only stopped because mining it by hand and cooking it could not compete with cheap Middle East oil. UK Crown Patent 330, from 1694, is for hydrocarbon extraction from shale. We used to have thriving shale hydrocarbon industries in Midlothian, Suffolk, and small 19c mines drifted into the Kimmeridge Shale from Dorset beaches etc. The economics of the time meant shale oil was the target, but as noted in the Royal Society report (p17), the first UK drilled well to encounter shale gas, was drilled in 1875. ( ) There are certainly hydrocarbons in UK shales, and the amount of associated gas condensate liquids will be a key factor in the economics.

These are mainly about shale oil, but where there is oil, there is gas, just historically the gas was of little interest.


Dec 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterNot in the pub yet

Didn`t Bowland Shale release an album of country classics?

Dec 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

Thanks for sharing valuable information. These links are really helpful for us

Jul 11, 2019 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterImran Hossain

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