Category Archives: Unconventional

Saudis face waning power in North America

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While the green movement naively harbors hopes it will be able to shut down unconventional oil and gas development, in Saudi Arabia they are already contemplating a time when North American fossil fuel will replace their oil.

Looking past the din of protesters, state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco is resigned to the fact that its influence will wane because of the massive unconventional fossil-fuel development underway in North America. As such, Saudi Arabia has no plans to raise its production output to 15 million barrels per day from 12 million, said Khalid Al-Falih, the powerful chief executive of Aramco.

“There is a new emphasis in the industry on unconventional liquids, and shale gas technologies are also being applied to shale oil,” Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, warned a domestic audience in a speech in Riyadh Monday.

“Some are even talking about an era of ‘energy independence’ for the Americas, based on the immense conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources located there. While that might be stretching the point, it is clear that the abundance of resources and the more ‘balanced’ geographical distribution of unconventional’s have reduced the much-hyped concerns over ‘energy security’, which once served as the undercurrent driving energy policies and dominated the global energy debate.”

Aramco is the powerful state entity that manages the Kingdom’s nine million barrel-plus oil output. Saudi Arabia has long dominated oil markets by leveraging its spare oil capacity and, as the OPEC kingpin, striking a delicate balance between the interests of oil consumers and the exporter group.

But the oil chief’s remarks reveal Saudi fears that the market dynamics are changing and its dominance over energy markets is under threat by new unconventional finds.

OPEC estimated in a recent report that global reserves of tight oil could be as high as 300 billion barrels, above Saudi Arabia’s conventional reserves of 260 billion barrels, which are currently seen as the second-largest in the world after Venezuela.

Global output of non-conventional oil is set to rise 3.4 million bpd by 2015, still dominated by oil sands, to 5.8 million bpd by 2025 and to 8.4 million bpd by 2035, when tight oil would be playing a much bigger role. By 2035, the United States and Canada will still be dominating unconventional oil production with 6.6 million bpd, the group forecasts.

Last year, even as the world consumed nearly 30 billion barrels of oil, not only was the industry able to replace this production but global petroleum reserves actually increased by nearly seven billion barrels, as companies increasingly turned toward higher risk areas, Al-Falih noted.

Clearly, the Kingdom is preparing for new market realities as the discussion on energy has changed from scarcity to abundance, particularly due to the new finds that can be produced feasibly and economically.

In the past, Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC allies, could drive prices down by opening the taps to ensure unconventional fossil fuels remained firmly buried in the ground. But most analysts now expect oil prices to remain high, at least over the medium term, thanks to tight supplies and continued demand from emerging markets. That’s great news for Canadian oil sands developers, which need prices around US$60 to US$70 per barrel to make their business models economically feasible.

Saudi Arabia’s own break-even oil price has also risen sharply in the past few years, making it less likely to pursue a strategy of lower prices. The Institute of International Finance estimates that Saudi Arabia’s break-even price has shot up US$20 over the past year to US$88, in part due to a generous spending package of US$130-billion announced this year to keep domestic unrest at bay.

The Saudis now find themselves between a shale rock and a hard place: While high crude prices mean the Saudis can maintain their excessive domestic subsidies for citizens, in the long run that means the world is developing new sources, making it less dependent on Saudi oil.

Although the Saudis have vigorously fought the Ethical Oil ads, which paint them in a negative light, they already know their oil is less welcome in the Americas – Saudi oil made up a mere 9.3% of U.S. oil imports last year, down from 11.2% five years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But while Saudis would be cheering on the green groups with ‘No KXL’ signs, they don’t hold out much hope for renewable energies either. Calling them ‘green bubbles,’ Al-Falih says governments should stop focusing on unproven and expensive energy mix, as there is frankly no appetite for massive investments in expensive, ill thought-out energy policies and pet projects.

“The confluence of four new realities – increasing supplies of oil and gas, the failure of alternatives to gain traction, the inability of economies to foot the bill for expensive energy agendas, and shifting environmental priorities – have turned the terms of the global energy dialogue upside down. Therefore, we must recast our discussion in light of actual conditions rather than wishful thinking,” the pragmatic chief said.

Somebody should explain this wishful thinking to the green movement.

yhussain@nationalpost.com

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ExxonMobil Eyes North American LNG Exports

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ExxonMobil Corp is actively assessing options to export liquefied natural gas from North America, where it is a top producer of the fuel.

“In terms of exports from North America, whether it is the Gulf Coast or whether it is Western Canada, it’s something we’re actively looking at,” Andrew Swiger, senior vice president of Exxon said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch investors conference.

North America market is different from places where Exxon has LNG projects because the gas is not stranded without a viable market, so the company is mulling options, Swiger said in remarks broadcast on the Internet.

Exxon has 340,000 shale gas acres in Western Canada’s Horn River Basin. The company also has a stake in the Golden Pass LNG Terminal in Texas.

(reuters)

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US Shales: Whether its a Revolution of Evolution, Shale Gas Delivers

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Shale gas enhancing energy supply, security

Whether you call it revolution or evolution, one thing is clear: Shale natural gas is producing jobs and economic benefits across the nation.

This week, shale gas was the focus of a major conference in Houston involving industry representatives, government officials and academics who gathered to discuss the technologies and future of this increasingly important source of energy.

For most of the nation, the contributions of shale gas may seem like a revolution. Shale gas has created thousands of new jobs, meant millions of dollars in new government revenues and enhanced energy security for America.

Of course, those of us who work in and around the energy industry understand that shale gas has been more of an evolution than a revolution.

The technologies used to develop these natural gas supplies aren’t new. Our industry began directional drilling in the 1920s, leading to substantial use of horizontal drilling in recent decades. And we have used the process of hydraulic fracturing since the 1940s. In that time, the industry has safely drilled more than a million wells.

The transformative impact of shale gas is challenging us all to think in new ways.

Not long ago many worried about a natural gas supply shortage in the U.S. But as President Obama recently stated, a “century’s worth … [lies] in the shale beneath our feet.” A decade ago gas from shale accounted for less than 2 percent of U.S. natural gas production. Today it is nearly 30 percent and growing.

As our nation considers this potential, we are reminded of the importance of reliable, affordable energy to our economy – especially during challenging economic times. Affordable supplies of natural gas – driven by the increase in shale production – have helped reinvigorate the domestic petrochemical industry, which relies on gas as a feedstock to make plastics and the other building blocks of modern manufacturing. These supplies are strengthening America’s steel industry, which is building new mills and hiring workers to support shale gas drilling. And areas where production of shale oil or natural gas is occurring are experiencing economic growth, job creation, and increased tax revenue.

For instance, in North Dakota, unconventional oil and gas production in the Bakken Shale has provided enormous economic benefits, with close to $5 billion in direct economic activity in 2009. In Texas, a study of the Barnett Shale formation near Fort Worth estimates it is now responsible for $11 billion in annual economic output and more than 100,000 jobs for the North Texas region. And in Pennsylvania, state labor statistics show 214,000 Marcellus Shale-related jobs at the beginning of 2011. Penn State researchers meanwhile calculate that Marcellus drilling could add nearly $10 billion in value to the Pennsylvania economy this year.

We also must not forget that hydraulic fracturing helps our nation reach our shared goals for responsible environmental stewardship. Natural gas produces about 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal when used to produce electricity for consumers and businesses, and significantly reduces other emissions such as mercury, sulfur and nitrogen oxide. It also uses a small fraction of the water used in coal, nuclear and solar power generation processes to produce a barrel of oil equivalent energy.

To ensure economic and environmental benefits continue, the people of the natural gas industry understand that we must remain firm in our commitment to properly manage the risks involved in drilling operations. That means meeting the highest standards of well design and well integrity. It means training our personnel and contractors to ensure adherence to established operating procedures. It means safely and efficiently handling the water and additives used to fracture wells. And it means working with state regulators to ensure protection of water and air quality.

The United States’ shale gas resources are an extraordinary energy endowment for our country, and our industry knows how to produce these resources safely and responsibly. We must keep these facts in mind as the public and policymakers discuss energy policies – and what increased access and technology mean for the energy industry.

With a commitment to operations integrity, wise development of our shale gas can provide new supplies of affordable, reliable energy in a safe, secure and environmentally responsible manner. And the rise of this resource comes at a time when our country – and the world – clearly needs the economic and environmental benefits that natural gas stands ready to deliver.

Mark W. Albers is a senior vice president at Exxon Mobil Corporation.

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Greece Investigates Shale Gas

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The Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change announced a special preparatory research project to be awarded to the Greek state-owned Institute for Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME), in order to explore potential shale gas reserves in the territory. More specifically, the Deputy Minister Ioannis Maniatis revealed in a press conference that after a series of preliminary examinations by a scientific committee on the issue, the decision was taken based on similar initiatives by other European countries.

Moreover, the Greek Ministry released a report examining best practices in other countries and concluding that the present day technology can be of use regarding the potential Greek reserves. Special note was highlighted in the examples of Poland, France and Bulgaria. Moreover it was made known that in the near future Greece may join the Shale Gas Resource initiative.

Furthermore Maniatis noted to the press “The research regarding shale gas is an integral part of the national strategy for energy that focuses on the use of gas either of a conventional or unconventional nature”. Moreover he added that ” The prospects for shale gas worldwide are impressive, since in the year 2000 just 1% of the global production of natural gas came from that source, whilst nowadays that figure has multiplied, and for that reason and for the purpose of Greek energy security the Ministry will proceed if adequate reserves exist in Greece, keeping in mind the present optimistic data”.

IGME, responsible for state-directed geological research in the country and the outlook for the shale gas, will survey for a three-month period beginning in early 2012, before any initial findings are announced.  Further, it is possible that the research will be funded by EU structural capital and will also involve the cooperation its Bulgarian counterparts who are already researching in their own country.

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Unconventional No More: Huge Gas And Oil Plays Emerge

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By

Controversial estimates of potentially enormous new energy reserves highlighted by energy company strategists have sparked a wave of optimistic forecasts for fossil fuel development.

Natural gas from shale will soon cease to be considered “unconventional”, said vice-president and chief economist of industry group America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) Sara Banaszak.

“In the next 5-10 years we’ll be done with the word ‘unconventional’,” Banaszak said at the US Association for Energy Economics conference in Washington, DC on 11 October.

“We’re very much at the very, very, very beginning of the revolution, and we don’t even see where this is going yet.

“It won’t make sense to talk about unconventional,” Banaszak said. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has forecast that shale gas’ share of US natural gas supply will rise to 46% in 2035 from 14% in 2009. “Even today it’s already, by some estimates, between 20% and 28% of the natural gas that’s produced in the United States,” Banaszak said.

The Novelty Of Shale Remains

Despite rapid development of the unconventional gas sector in the US, shale as a viable source of gas is still a relatively recent phenomenon. Both the ultimate volume of recoverable reserves, and their impact on domestic and global markets, remain to be seen.

Read more about how natural gas reserve estimates are made here. For more on the impact of shale gas on US energy markets, read here.

Estimates of natural gas resources available in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years, and upward revisions continue. EIA estimates of potential shale gas resources in the US more than doubled in the agency’s 2011 Annual Energy Outlook from the year before, to 862 trillion cubic feet.

Banaszak compared these rising estimates to previous upward revisions in areas like the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. “There’s definitely a pattern, as the industry operates in a new resource area, we learn more about it, we learn to understand it better, and estimates often change,” Banaszak said.

And estimates of both how much is in the ground and how much of it is recoverable, may continue to increase as exploration continues and extraction techniques improve.

“We’re very much at the very, very, very beginning of the revolution, and we don’t even see where this is going yet. Any idea you have about where this is headed is probably still not fully informed, because we’re just still learning,” said Banaszak.

Unearthing Shale Liquids

The same trends of rising production volumes and reserve estimates may be emerging in liquids-rich onshore unconventional fields.

“It is an area where a lot of progress is being made,” EIA deputy administrator Howard Gruenspecht told AOL Energy.

Gruenspecht highlighted the Bakken Shale, which spans parts of North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan in Canada, and the Eagle Ford in Texas, as among the most prominent of US onshore oil plays. He also noted prospects for the Utica Shale, which spans parts of the US midwest and northeast, as well as Quebec.

The Utica “has not provided significant production growth yet, but there is certainly a lot of talk that this will be a liquids-heavy resource,” Gruenspecht said.

See: Utica Shale May Be Its Own Energy Game-Changer.

A study by the National Petroleum Council, an advisory group that represents oil and gas industry views, suggested that at the high end of the spectrum, tight “shale” liquids plays in the US and Canada could hold recoverable resource potential of 10-20 billion barrels, and future production may exceed 1 million barrels per day.

But forecasting with any accuracy is as difficult for unconventional liquids as it has been for unconventional natural gas. “It’s very early days”, said president of consultancy Strategic Energy & Economic Research (SEER) Michael Lynch.

The large shale liquids deposits in the US — which Lynch said number “at least a dozen” — could collectively hold 100 billion barrels of oil in place, with around 1-3% recoverable. Even at low recovery rates, with such a large resource base, “1% means 1 billion barrels”, Lynch said. He suggested that each deposit could add 50,000 barrels per day each year once equipment and personnel are available.

And unconventional onshore oil reserve estimates may rise substantially as new discoveries are made and producers hone techniques to extract liquids from tight rock. “You’re going to get more recovery per well, lower costs, quicker times, and so forth”, Lynch said.

“Tight Race” Between Onshore and Offshore

Tapping oil and liquids from unconventional formations has already begun to impact US oil production, which rose in 2009 and 2010 after declining steadily since the mid-1980’s. But other sources of output, such as the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, may be equally important to future domestic production growth.

Oil production in North Dakota has risen sharply in recent years, recently surpassing 400,000 barrels per day, thanks in large part to the Bakken Shale. But “while the trend in North Dakota and the unconventional resources is certainly worthy of note, it does not replace the offshore Gulf, particularly the deepwater,” Gruenspecht told AOL Energy.

US offshore crude production from the Gulf of Mexico averaged 1.6 million barrels per day in 2010, accounting for almost one-third of total US oil production, according to the EIA. “We’re talking in North Dakota about production that’s well less than a third of the federal Gulf of Mexico production,” said Gruenspecht.

The NPC study lists potential recoverable oil resources in the US Gulf of Mexico at the high end of the range at 40-60 billion barrels — three-to-four times its estimates for unconventional “tight oil”. According to the NPC, production from the Gulf could rise to 3 million barrels per day in the near- to medium-term if discovered reservoirs yield commercial volumes and drilling returns to levels of activity seen prior to the 2010 oil spill from the Macondo well.

But Lynch foresees a “tight race” between production growth from US unconventional onshore plays and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

For shale liquids, “it seems like there’s a lot of potential, and the obstacles are relatively few”, Lynch said. Such obstacles could include new regulations that limit the use of hydraulic fracturing, or procuring sufficient hydraulic fracturing equipment to drill large numbers of wells.

In the deepwater drilling areas, companies’ push into new areas has the potential to unearth supergiant fields. “When you start talking about billion-barrel fields, that’s a lot of oil. And the implication is that if there’s one billion-barrel field, there are probably a lot more 400 million barrel fields,” he said.Related Articles

Original Article

Soros-Backed San Leon Says Polish Shale Gas Profits to Beat U.S.

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By Marek Strzelecki

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) — San Leon Energy Plc, the natural- gas explorer backed by billionaire George Soros and Blackrock Inc., expects its Polish shale licenses to be more profitable than U.S. deposits, the company’s exploration director said.

San Leon, which became one of the leading shale gas explorers in Poland after buying Realm Energy International Corp. for $142 million last month, seeks to profit either through so-called farm-outs with a cash component or asset sales once it develops its fields and proves they can produce gas, John Buggenhagen said in an interview in Warsaw.

Shale gas, unlocked from rocks by blasting them with sand, chemicals and water, has boosted U.S. production and delivered the lowest prices in almost a decade. Companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. seek to emulate the U.S. boom in Poland, Europe’s biggest holder of shale.

“If you’re getting $4 for your gas in the U.S., here you’re getting $8, meaning I can produce half as much gas for the same profit,” Buggenhagen said.

Dublin-based San Leon has 14 licenses and 1.7 million acres of land in the eastern European country to explore for shale gas and conventional hydrocarbons, according to a presentation on its website. Poland has granted 101 licenses, with eight wells completed out of a mandatory 124. Test production has started on two wells.

U.S. Example

“If you look at what’s going on in North America, I mean that people are paying $10, $20, $30 an acre, and selling it for $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 an acre, that’s the kind of return that we’re looking for.” Buggenhagen said. “We would like to use our existing capital to start exploring those Realm concessions on our own, as opposed to giving away acreage through farm-outs.”

Last year, the company signed a farm-out agreement with Talisman Energy Inc., under which the Canadian gas explorer will drill one well on each of San Leon’s concessions in the Baltic basin in northern Poland in exchange for 30 percent stakes in the licenses. Talisman has an option to increase its holdings to 60 percent if it drills an additional well on each license.

San Leon was approached by three “significant oil and gas companies” and may consider more farm-outs after upcoming drillings, Buggenhagen said.

“If I come and drill the well that costs me $4 million to $5 million and if I’ve increased the value of that block 10- fold, then the value of my farm-out is that much more” he said.

Production Start

Poland may sit atop about 5.2 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Commercial production can start in three to five years, helped by the relatively high price of Russian gas, Buggenhagen said.

The country buys some 60 percent of its gas under a long- term contract from Russia. In the second quarter the country was paying more than $400 a 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas, according to Polish Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. That’s about three times today’s gas price for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

While Poland’s almost complete reliance on coal as fuel for power generation may help boost shale production given the European Union’s push to lower carbon-dioxide emissions, the country should be cautious in increasing royalties for oil and gas producers, Buggenhagen said.

“What we’re struggling to know is how is the Polish government going to respond to success, in terms of changing royalties and income taxes,” he said. “You see that everywhere in the world — the greed factor — how much greed we will see over the next three to five years.”

Production Fees

Last month, Poland’s largest opposition Law and Justice party presented a draft law calling for output fees to be at least 40 percent of the value of the deposit. While the government argues mining fees should not be set before gas deposits are proven, in June Pawlak said the country saw Norway and its sovereign wealth fund as a model to benefit from shale gas production.

“Royalties are less than 1 percent now, so very low,” Buggenhagen said. “They will go up, for sure, But if you raise it to 40 percent you’re going to discourage the investment.”

Original Article

Proposed Shale Gas Development Stirs Passions in Poland

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

OilPrice.com
by Joao Peixe

Energy-poor Poland is about to embark upon using hydraulic fracturing to develop the country’s natural gas reserves. The practice is controversial in many countries, including the U.S., because of its potential impact on the environment, particularly groundwater. Many municipalities and counties in the U.S. have adopted stringent regulations as a result.

Poland’s Petrolinvest has formed a joint venture, Silurian-Hallwood, with the U.S.-based Hallwood Energy to begin shale gas extraction after funding is raised, Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported.

Silurian-Hallwood is currently attempting to raise $90-100 million, of which, $20-25 million will come from private investment with the remaining $70-75 million from an initial public offering (IPO) prior to the company being listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) later this year.

Author Jacek Skorupski observed, “Shale gas is a matter of a political nature. If we treat it like any other investment, we will be faced with mounting difficulties.”

Deputy Environment Minister Jacek Jezierski ambiguously noted, “We will be able to say whether amendments to provisions regulating shale gas extraction are needed once we perform a professional assessment of its environmental impact, not an emotional one. Poland intends to control this process, not to ban it.”

Marek Kryda of the Institute of Civil Affairs emphasized, “It is necessary to look after issues related to property expropriation and lease. We can already see irregularities at the stage of test drilling.”

(Joao Peixe is Deputy Editor with OilPrice.com. The original article appears here.)

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Nexen joins Marathon to explore Poland shale gas resources.. Exxon seeks partners for its shale gas licenses in Poland.

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Source: Marathon Oil Website

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marathon Oil Corporation has signed an agreement with Nexen under which Nexen will acquire a 40% working interest in 10 of Marathon’s concessions in Poland‘s Paleozoic shale play. This partnership provides not only financial risk mitigation but combines the extensive unconventional drilling and completion experience of Marathon and Nexen to fully evaluate the potential of these concessions.

Marathon currently holds an interest in 11 concessions in Poland, encompassing 2.3 million acres. The shales are Lower Paleozoic and located at depths of between 8,000 and 13,000 feet. Marathon plans to acquire 2D seismic during the first half of 2011, potentially followed by the drilling of one to two wells in the fourth quarter of 2011 and seven to eight wells during 2012. Marathon will remain operator of the 11 concessions.

Poland shale gas- A Game Changer??

Poland’s Lower Paleozoic shale play may be the largest and most significant opportunity for unconventional gas in central Europe and is evolving rapidly in the wake of successful shale plays in North America. Natural gas demand in the large and growing European market is approximately 50 to 55 billion cubic feet per day, with imports from outside the European Union accounting for approximately 50% of total gas requirements.

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Source: Marathon – Howard Weil 2011 Energy Conference

In the last three years, Poland had issued more than 70 licenses for shale gas exploration which could make Europe less dependent on supplies from Africa and Russia. However, extraction of resources in Europe is more complex than in the US because of population density. Poland has 5.3 trillion cubic meters of shale natural gas, equal to more than 300 years of the country’s annual gas consumption, the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy said in a report. The companies are now drilling in Poland, but it will take at least a year to determine if shale gas production will be commercially feasible.

Lots more available on Poland table??

Poland’s shale resources are being targeted by Majors like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ENI, ConocoPhillips, Marathon, and Talisman as well as small independents like San Leon Energy, Realm Energy and BNK Petroleum. The following tables show the list of Poland shale gas deals.

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Source: Derrick Petroleum E&P Transactions Database

As the companies’ interest towards shale gas exploitation in Poland is heating up, few companies are calling for partners to give them a helping hand. Below is the list of Poland assets available for sale!!

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Source: Derrick Petroleum Deals In Play Database

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