Southern England has billions of barrels of shale oil, UK says

The shale rock under southern England may have as much as 8.6 billion barrels of oil, according to a Friday report from the United Kingdom government.

The British Geological Survey’s report did not estimate how much of the Weald Basin’s oil could be recovered profitably, the International Business Times reported. But just 10 percent of the oil could supply the U.K. for 40 years.

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The shale sits below Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, some of England’s wealthiest counties. Exploration companies are likely to face opposition from communities, environmentalists and anti-hydraulic fracturing activists who have protested similar shale drilling, the Times reported.

The U.K. provides incentives to communities hosting oil and gas exploration, in addition to a portion of the revenues from the minerals, the Times said. Companies are also required to consult local residents about their activities.

But officials may be considering increasing the incentives, along with laws that could allow drillers to access minerals without the property owners’ consent.

The government’s report about the Weald Basin follows a survey last year concluding that the Bowland Basin in east and northeast England could have 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas in shale.