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  1. International shale skepticism

    Tayvis Dunnahoe Exploration Editor For nearly 2 decades, North America-the US and Canada-has seen an increase of natural gas and oil reserves through application of new technology in unconventional plays. As early as 2005, Oil & Gas Journal cited the importance of unconventional gas to US supply (OGJ Online, Feb. 28, 2005). At that time, the Barnett shale formation was the biggest news for unconventional resources, and US gas production was expected to rise to more than 10 tcf/year from 5 tcf in 2000. By 2012, US gas production exceeded 29 tcf, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That same year, analysts predicted US liquids production could lead to net zero imports by 2020 (OGJ Online, May 28, 2012). International aspirations The success of North American unconventional resource development has continued to build through the discovery of new and productive plays. Development of new technology, access to acreage, and financial incentives for both operators and land owners also have facilitated growth in economies of scale. Recent reports have underscored that companies have tightened exploration budgets in view of the current economic climate. In the US, unconventional operations can easily ramp up again in the event of sustained oil prices. In Europe, Asia, and South America, the unconventional development that has proven North America's abundant reserves serves as a worthy goal. Exploration companies and governments have sought to replicate this development success outside of North America. Each region faces its own challenges, but shale resources exist on a global scale. As an editor for OGJ, the term "international shale" tends to pique one's skepticism. Primarily, results are required to validate a real news story. Poland's Baltic basin offered some hope for a European answer to the Barnett in 2009 but the basin has since proven difficult to commercialize (OGJ Online, Sep. 10, 2009). As of Jan. 31, Chevron Corp. joined ExxonMobil Corp., Total SA, and Marathon Oil Corp. in the roster of majors that have pulled out of Poland's nascent shale prospect. In the UK and Scotland, moratoria have dampened the possibility of unconventional exploration. In all, 21 shale wells were drilled in Europe in 2014 according to Wood Mackenzie's international shale report published in January. While Europe's prospects are slim, there are successes in other regions. Price of progress In the US and abroad, unconventional wells are historically more expensive. Due to the specialized technology required, non-North American shale expertise also can be in short supply in other global regions. More importantly, sustained high prices for oil have assisted many operations in maintaining profitability. At its high point in 2014, oil rallied at $115/bbl in June before taking a precipitous dive to its lowest price of $44/bbl in January. Prices have risen slightly through February, but it is unclear where this will lead through 2015. While international shale continues to be a goal for many regions, WoodMac reported that exploration companies drilled 620 shale wells in 14 countries in 2014. Argentina and China accounted for the largest share of new drilling with 340 and 160 wells, respectively. Australia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia saw considerable activity with each country ranging 20-30 new shale wells. Unconventional exploration entered a handful of other regions in 2014, but there were fewer than 10 wells drilled in most cases. Argentina's Vaca Muerta play was the most heavily drilled international shale play in 2014 with cumulative production reaching almost 40,000 bo/d by yearend. Activity indicates that Argentina and China will continue to expand their unconventional development as both countries are motivated to increase supply. The tangible progress seen in these two countries is partially the result of government-regulated commodity prices. "This somewhat insulates these operations from the massive price swings we've witnessed over the past 6 months," said Robert Clarke, research director, global unconventional oil and gas, WoodMac. Given this challenging price environment, international shale exploration is expected to slow even further in 2015, and the loss of momentum will be detrimental. According to Clarke, "A pause in activity for the next 2 years could delay eventual commercial production on non-US shale assets by a decade." Skepticism may be the best approach to international shale development in many areas.

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 2 Mar 2015

  2. Deloitte: International shale work will take longer than in US

    Vast shale plays worldwide are going to be explored and developed although it's going to take more than a decade before another country outside the US or Canada can duplicate the current US shale boom, speakers told the Deloitte Oil & Gas Conference on Nov. 13 in Houston.

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 19 Nov 2012

  3. Deloitte: International shale development will take longer than in US

    Vast shale plays worldwide are going to be explored and developed although it’s going to take more than a decade before another country outside the US or Canada can duplicate the current US shale boom, speakers told the Deloitte Oil & Gas Conference on Nov. 13 in Houston.

    Online Articles

    Online Articles

    Wed, 14 Nov 2012

  4. CERAWeek: Regulatory hurdles still threaten US shale, CEOs say

    Leaders of prominent US shale producers came together on Apr. 21 to drive home what's emerged as a primary theme during this year's IHS CERAWeek in Houston: The urgent need to lift the export ban on US crude oil.

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 27 Apr 2015

  1. CERAWeek: Regulatory hurdles still threaten US shale, CEOs say

    Online Articles

    Online Articles

    Wed, 22 Apr 2015

  2. US SHALE OIL-GAS PRODUCTION POTENTIAL—3 (Conclusion): US shale oil output likely to offset decline from conventional fields

    This is the third of three parts on the potential of domestic unconventional shale oil and gas production to displace oil imports to the US.

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 1 Oct 2012

  3. OGJ Newsletter

    International news for oil and gas professionals

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 23 Jan 2012

  4. Total content for now with US shale holdings

    Total SA has no plans to make any more US shale acquisitions, at least for now, because the French oil and gas company already is satisfied with its international shale oil and gas holdings, executives said.

    Online Articles

    Online Articles

    Wed, 26 Sep 2012

  5. Dart Energy aggregates unconventional gas business

    Dart Energy Ltd., Brisbane, has formed Dart Energy International Shale Pte. Ltd. as a subsidiary that will manage Dart’s European unconventional gas assets acquired in three transactions in 2011.

    Online Articles

    Online Articles

    Wed, 18 Jan 2012

  6. Special Report: Worldwide Gas Processing: Impact of shale plays on LPG supply remains uncertain

    Commercial development of shale gas with directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing is for the present almost entirely restricted to North America.

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 7 Jun 2010

  7. WoodMac: Majors buying into shale gas plays

    North American large caps and smaller exploration and production companies now dominate the largest and most economically attractive US shale plays, but the majors and large cap foreign firms are moving in through mergers and acquisitions, said Wood Mackenzie Ltd., Edinburgh, in its latest ...

    Magazine Articles

    Magazine Articles

    Mon, 11 Oct 2010

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