Scotland has modest shale gas and oil resources, an assessment by the British Geological Survey suggests.
The estimates for the Midland Valley suggest shale gas resources of 80trillion cubic feet – considerably lower than the 1,300trillion cubic feet thought to be in the Bowland shale in northern England.
There is an estimated 6billion barrels of shale oil in the area, which stretches across Scotland and includes Glasgow and Edinburgh, slightly more than the central estimate of 4.4billion barrels in the Weald Basin in southern England.
But the amount of gas and oil that can be extracted from the shale is likely to be far lower than the total resource. In the US shale oil exploration has only been able to access up to 10% of the total oil.
The Midland Valley’s estimates are particularly uncertain, experts said, because the area has fewer historic wells and less seismic data to rely on than other areas which have been assessed.
More exploratory drilling and testing is needed to determine how much of the oil and gas resource can be recovered.
“Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is crucial to keep job and business opportunities, widen tax revenues and reduce our reliance on foreign imports,” said Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon.
“We know that shale gas alone won’t be able to supply all of our energy needs, but the environmentally responsible exploration of shale gas could contribute to our energy mix.
“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.
“The UK’s energy security is among the best in the world, backed by a large consumer and tax base that can afford to support our world-leading energy industries and make us such an attractive place to invest.”