A new study carried out at the University of Leicester reveals that an alternative to oil could be found in ancient sea deposits dating to 300 million years ago.

Shale gas sourced in mudstones in shallow water seaways could provide the future alternative to fuel modern society in the wake of demands to find new energy sources, according to the doctoral research.

These mudstones, now exposed across central and northern England, contain up to 14% carbon.

Jennifer Graham, a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Geology, University of Leicester, will present her research, “Mudstones: their variability and hydrocarbon potential”, at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on Thursday 25th June in the Belvoir Suite, Charles Wilson Building at University of Leicester between 11.30am and 1pm.

Graham said, “Fissile mudstones (shales) can yield three to four times as much gas as conventional sandstone reservoirs. The mudstones studied in this research were deposited in a shallow-water seaway that extended from Canada across Europe approximately 317 million years ago.

“This project has the involvement of Exxon Mobil and in the future could potentially attract interest from other companies working to find alternative and unconventional sources of energy as oil supplies decline.”

According to her study, the understanding of these mudstones by exploring their character will be significant, however exploiting ‘shale gas’ is a considerable challenge because the distribution and character of mudstones are not well known as conventional sandstone gas reservoirs.