Apache Corp. has found a huge amount (up to 48 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas in its Liard Basin properties in northeastern BC. All of the gas is targeted to ship to a proposed LNG plant which should be built at Kitimat, according to Refinery News.
As the company says, it is the best unconventional gas discovery in North America. They have rights to drill 430,000 acres within the region.
Because of the low gas price, it is expected that the drilling plans in the Liard region could be very slow.
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The two “islands” were found on the remote sea floor in international waters 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) west of Australia during a surveying trip last month.
Their rocks contained fossils of creatures found in shallow waters, meaning they were once part of the continent at or above sea level rather than created by undersea volcanic activity, said Sydney University geophysicist Jo Whittaker.
Whittaker, one of the key researchers, said she was particularly interested in exploring India’s drift first northwest and then sharply north, where its northeast coast, once joined to Australia, smashed into Eurasia, forming the Himalayas.
“We have a fairly good idea where those continents were but we don’t exactly know, the eastern Indian Ocean is one of the more poorly explored parts of the world’s oceans in terms of tectonics,” she told AFP.
“So it will help us figure out the plate kinematic motions that led to India moving away from Australia and heading up off to crash into Eurasia.”
Samples of sandstone and granite dredged from a steep cliff on one of the islands, about 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below the ocean surface, are to be dated but the research team believe they are up to one billion years old.
The rocks will also be compared with samples from Australia’s west coast to try to determine where exactly the islands broke away from.
Similar matching was not possible with India because the relevant coast was now “smashed into the Himalayas somewhere,” said Whittaker.
India’s east coast was once adjacent to what is now modern-day Antarctica.
She likened the continental separation to pulling something “a bit gooey” apart and said the fragments, which are a fraction of the thickness of normal continental crust and combined about the size of Scotland, were the “little pieces that got left behind.”
“These pieces are probably not as thick as (continental crust) so they sit a little bit lower in the water, like something floating in the bath essentially,” she said.
Whittaker added that the fossil find was extremely lucky given the vastness of the area they were dredging.
“We’re excited to actually get some really good samples and very clear cut continental rocks which show that (the islands) are little fragments of Gondwana that were left behind as India moved away from Australia,” she said.
Plate tectonic theory is a relatively young science which was only recognised in the 1950s and experts were still trying to establish what made the continents move and change direction, she added.
Australia was moving northwards at a speed of about seven centimetres (2.75 inches) a year, likely due to a subduction zone along the Indonesian coastline where two plates met that was linked to the destructive 2004 earthquake and tsunami.
Antarctica, on the other hand, was not moving at all and Whittaker said discoveries like the Gondwana islands were critical.
“It’s very significant, it’s not every day you discover two large continental fragments on the ocean floor,” she said.
“Together with some of the other data this has the potential to change how we’ve been modelling that part of the world and that timeframe.”
- ‘Lost’ continent Gondwana sheds light on formation of world today (telegraph.co.uk)
- Secret of ghost alps of Antarctica revealed (telegraph.co.uk)
“We’ve got a very sizable resource in place,” Dennis Carlton, executive director of Cuadrilla Resources, said in a phone interview from Blackpool, England. “Without drilling individual units within the thick shale we don’t know what the recovery factor will be.”
Two exploration wells near the seaside resort of Blackpool found shale formations almost 10 times as thick as typical U.S. deposits, Carlton said. Hydraulic fracturing, a process that uses water, sand and chemicals to smash apart rocks and release trapped fuel, reversed declines in U.S. natural-gas output and made it the world’s largest producer.
As many as seven exploration wells may need to be drilled, fractured and tested before more information can be given about recoverable reserves, he said. Investors in Cuadrilla include Riverstone Holdings LLC, led by former BP Plc Chief Executive Officer John Browne, and AJ Lucas Group Ltd. (AJL)
“In the Marcellus, if you have a 300- to 400-foot interval, that’s on the high side,” he said, referring to one of the largest U.S. shale-gas basins. “We’ve got 3,000 foot of shale.”
The U.K.’s largest shale resource found to date is equivalent to 5.6 trillion cubic meters, or about three times Norway’s existing, proved reserves. Norway is the second-largest gas exporter to Europe and the biggest foreign supplier to Britain.
Cuadrilla is likely to be able to recover only a fraction of the gas trapped in the rocks. The U.K.’s technically recoverable shale resources are 20 trillion cubic feet, the U.S. department of Energy said in an April report.
The company has 1,200 square kilometers (300,000 acres) under license in northwest England, covering 80 to 90 percent of the shale in the area, he said.
“We’ve got the best of the best, at least in the Bowland basin,” he said.
North Sea gas production is declining and the U.K. is increasingly reliant on imports to meet Europe’s highest demand for natural gas.
Cuadrilla voluntarily halted fracking at its operations in June after “small tremors” were reported in the area, according to its website. The company will submit a report to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in October, Carlton said.
Carlton estimated a “mid-case” scenario of drilling 400 production wells from 40 well pads in the future. To date they have drilled two exploration wells and have historical data from three 10- to 15-year-old wells drilled by British Gas.
- And now the UK reports a huge shale gas find – but WWF wants to ban it (ktwop.wordpress.com)
- Gas field to turn Blackpool into Dallas-on-sea (guardian.co.uk)
- Deep under Lancashire, a huge gas find that could lead to 800 ‘fracking’ wells (independent.co.uk)
- Leading article: Fracking – not a risk that it is worth Britain taking (independent.co.uk)
- Camp Frack mobilises against UK’s first shale gas well (guardian.co.uk)
- The UK’s lack of fracking regulation is insane | George Monbiot (guardian.co.uk)