Groningen: Unconventional gas resources key to European supply

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

GRONINGEN, June 22 -- Unconventional gas resources worldwide could become major supply sources for Europe provided the industry can develop breakthrough technologies to produce these resources economically, speakers said at the 50th anniversary of supergiant Groningen field in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Stephen Holditch, head of the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M University, told the conference that there could be 35,000 tcf of unconventional gas resources worldwide. He is confident, however, that the figure could be higher considering there hasn’t been any dedicated exploration program for this.

“There is no shortage of oil and gas. We need technology transfer to unlock unconventional gas resources like GTL, petrophysics, hydraulic fracturing, microseismic, and horizontal drilling,” Holditch said.

Companies could drill for these resources with a gas price of $6-8/MMbtu, said Holditch.

Using data from public sources, his department is researching eight basins in North America to determine the level of technically recoverable unconventional gas resources. It has found that there is nine times more unconventional gas that’s technically recoverable in the basin after the conventional resources. “We want to develop models so that we can tell companies what to expect and what the best practices are with analogous basins. We are also looking at 17 more basins,” Holditch added.

David Scott, a senior scientist with the Canadian government, said Canada is interested in developing gas hydrates to address security of supply and increased economic growth demand. Production could happen with tweaking existing technology, according to the 6-day Mallik test results in 2002. The field is in the Mackenzie Delta in northwestern Canada.

The government, along with seven other partners, drilled a 1,200 m production well and two nearby scientific observation wells. It tested more than 10 MMcfd of gas. The government monitored the physical response of the gas hydrate deposits to depressurization and thermal production stimulation.

However, developing gas hydrates will be difficult as they are in cold and challenging environments which have a lack of transport infrastructure, said Scott.

“In the Mackenzie Delta we can see the escape of thermogenic gas and it’s difficult to answer if it’s imperative to produce it now because of global warming. There could well be urgency,” he added.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at

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