U.S. Shale Gas Dominates Start of IHS CERAWeek

The topic of shale gas development in the U.S. dominated conversation Monday as IHS CERAWeek kicked off its 31st annual executive conference with a pre-conference symposium.

The first session provided an overview of the National Petroleum Council's study the "Prudent Development: Realizing the Potential of North America's Abundant Natural Gas and Oil Resources." Members of the leadership team that developed the study identified how new oil and gas will alter the U.S. economic prosperity and environmental security. The report had four major findings:

  • Potential of North America's natural gas is much bigger than thought a few years ago
  • America's oil resources are much larger than previously found
  • We'll need these natural gas and oil resources even as efficiency produces energy commands and alternatives become more economically available on a larger scale
  • Realizing these methods depends on environmentally responsible development
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Panelists and members of the leadership team included Shell's Andrew Slaughter, Chesapeake's Paul Hagemeier, El Paso Corp.'s Fiji George, Envrionmental Defense Fund's Mark Brownstein and Anadarko Petroleum's A. Scott Moore.

"The study shows that the actual supply [of natural gas] is tremendous, not only from the world class basins we have today but also from new oil resources throughout the continent and again, this has the potential of significantly increasing the proportion of North American oil demand," said Slaughter, Business Environment Advisor - Upstream Americas for Shell.

Brownstein, the deputy director of the Environmental Defense Fund's Energy Program, added that the country is facing a "change in the storyline," which was unimaginable a few years ago. Brownstein stressed the challenges of developing new resources when he said, "we are going to learn new things — so we need to engage communities and work to get better information."

Industry to Take Cues from U.S. Shale Gas Advisory Board

Members from the U.S. Secretary of Energy's Shale Gas Advisory Board discussed the steps to be taken in improving the industry's image with hydraulic fracturing.

"We could have over 100,000 wells operating from shale gas production in this country over the next 10 or 15 years," said MIT Professor John Deutch.

Mark Zoback, a geophysics professor at Stanford University, urged the industry to become proactive in dealing with the public. It is in the industry's best-interest to get fracking information out to the public, he said.

Zoback listed five simple steps to prevent earthquakes when fracking, the public's most recent environmental concern associated with the technique:

  • avoid injection into active faults
  • reduce pressure changes at depth
  • if cause for concern, install localized seismic network
  • work out with regulators' protocols
  • take action – reduce injection rates, deduce injection rates or be prepared to abandon the well

Schlumberger's President of Reservoir Production Group Patrick Schorn discussed some of the benefits of improved technology and work flow, which would essentially place less strain on current resources.

  • start creating a different type of productivity inside fracturing
  • trying to do more with less in fracturing
  • be able to better characterize reservoir and only fracture what is needed

Both Schorn and Zoback agreed that Human Resources is a critical element to the future of the industry.


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