Deloitte: Shale gas, oil potential increasingly apparent

Oil and gas production from tight shale formations clearly is a long-term phenomenon and not a short-term trend, Deloitte LLP officials told reporters. The financial services company found growing confidence in unconventional energy resources in a survey it conducted last year, said John England, a vice-chairman and leader of its oil and gas practice.

“Huge investments are flowing into this sector from previously unheard from sources,” he said on May 21 during Deloitte’s 2013 Washington Energy Conference at nearby National Harbor, Md. “It’s a reason so many foreign companies have come into the US. Investment recently has flowed to midstream infrastructure, but there’s still strong interest upstream.”

More natural gas liquids are being recovered along with the shale gas, and that’s attracting investments too, he observed. “It’s interesting that we’re having this debate about authorizing more [LNG] exports when we’re already export significant amounts of NGLs,” England said.

Growing tight oil development also is generating more investments, he continued. “Even in the Eagle Ford and Bakken formations, recovery rates are still quite low so there’s a real technology opportunity,” he said.

Joseph A. Stanislaw, Deloitte’s independent senior energy and sustainability advisor, said the whole global energy equation is changing because of what North America is doing with shales. “This new fossil energy abundance could benefit alternatives if we use it not as an end, but a means,” he suggested.

Landowners’ property rights are the biggest single advantage, according to Stanislaw. “The future is going to be determined by governments and companies both,” he said. “But the industry will need to operate safely and minimize environmental impacts if it expects to keep its license to operate.”

Peter J. Robertson, Deloitte’s independent senior advisor for oil and gas, agreed foreign countries face shale oil and gas development obstacles which aren’t present in North America. “Their governments would do back-flips to have this potential, while several of ours are curiously putting up obstacles,” he said. “I expect US tight shale producers and service companies to work more overseas sooner than anticipated, however.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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