Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shale Gas Exploration And Development Goes International

It is no surprise to this geologist that the technology used to produce gas from the Fort Worth Basin and its Barnett Shale is finding its way to other parts of the world.

Shale, that often organic-rich, dark gray or black, very fine grained sedimentary rock, is found in every sedimentary basin, both present and ancient, on Earth. It is sometimes called "mud-rock" as is appropriate to its origin.

The organic matter in these shales can be converted into oil and natural gas as it is heated and buried by thousands of feet of additional sediments. The fact that these rocks contain a flammable gas (natural gas) has been known since antiquity. However, from an economic standpoint, shale has mostly just been considered a "source" rock for oil and gas found elsewhere. Times have changed.

Now shale can be considered a source, seal, trap, and reservoir of gas, (and sometimes oil) --- an all in one package. With the proper combination of horizontal drilling and rock fracturing technology these shales can produce very economic quantities of gas. This has been proven in the Barnett Shale in north Texas, and to a lesser, but growing extent elsewhere. Since shales of this nature are so prevalent around the world, it makes sense that the combination of horizontal drilling, the logging and steering of these wells while drilling, and the fracture treatment of the rocks is finding its way to countries outside of the United States.

Natural gas has many uses, from generating electricity, to heating our homes, cooking our food and powering our vehicles. It burns very cleanly and its only by-product is harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide. If it were not so clean, how could we use it in our homes to cook our food? Are you listening EPA?

If President Obama was really interested in stimulating the economy he would be promoting the production and more widespread use of natural gas. Maybe his advisers are just ignorant of the facts. It certainly makes far more sense to use inexpensive and ubiquitous natural gas than it does to spend Billions on solar panels and wind turbines, which can never do more than supply a fraction of our energy needs.

If anyone doubts the jobs, equipment and technology required to drill and produce gas from these shales, they should visit an active drill site, or witness a frac job. They should also consider that for every person working in the field, there are probably tens or hundreds of people working behind the scenes. It is a big and growing business. Browse this blog and you will find many, more relevant articles and information on this subject. Pass it around. Send it to your Congressman. Send it to Mr. Obama.

The following article from the "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" tells more of the story.

Barnett Shale seen as model for drillers worldwide

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2009 (source)

The search for unconventional natural gas deposits in areas like the Barnett Shale of North Texas not only is dominating gas drilling in the United States, but it will also become pervasive worldwide.

That was the message given Tuesday by two experts at the opening of a three-day energy conference in the Fort Worth Convention Center.

"I think unconventional gas is the future, both in the U.S. and overseas," said Vello Kuuskraa, president of Advanced Resources International, known for his work in energy economics and petroleum recovery technologies.

Unconventional gas includes shale gas, tight gas and coal-bed methane, deposits that require measures such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to enhance their recovery and make them economically feasible.

Unconventional gas accounts for more than half of U.S. production, Kuuskraa said, even though what he called two new "rock stars" among shale fields — the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana and East Texas, and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States — are just beginning to be significantly developed.

Meanwhile, Kuuskraa said he expects his end-of-the-year calculations to show that the Barnett Shale has become the biggest gas-producing area in the U.S., outstripping the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and Colorado.

The U.S. is leading the way in the search for unconventional gas, and developing the technology that will "be used around the world," said Stephen Holditch, head of the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M University and former president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers-International.

Oil and gas exploration and production companies either based in North Texas or with substantial operations in the region are in the thick of the search for unconventional gas.

That includes three Fort Worth-based companies, XTO Energy, Range Resources and Quicksilver Resources; two Oklahoma City-based companies, Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy, the top two Barnett Shale producers; and Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp., which is drilling for unconventional gas everywhere from Colorado to Hungary.

Kuuskraa said Exxon Mobil is said to have gotten encouraging results from initial drilling in the Mako Trough in Hungary.

There are reportedly "massive concentrations" of gas — estimated at 700 billion cubic feet per square mile — in a small area of the Eastern European nation, he said.

Future unconventional gas recovery worldwide could significantly expand supplies, which would help make gas increasingly attractive as a fuel for transportation and electric power generation, Kuuskraa forecast at the Unconventional Gas International Conference & Exhibition, which resumes today.

JACK Z. SMITH, 817-390-7724

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