Will the Unconventional Revolution be a Global One?

Global demand for energy will increase an estimated 40 percent by 2030, according to some research agencies, but ExxonMobil forecasts that natural gas demand will grow by 55 percent between 2005 and 2030. With this increasing demand for energy, the global tight oil race has kicked-off with many industry leaders feeling that the unconventional revolution will be a global one, stated Bob Fryklund, vice president of energy research at IHS CERAWeek 2013 Tuesday. The countries leading the race, besides North America, are China, Australia, Europe, specifically Poland, Argentina, and parts of the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia.

While the United States has set the precedence of this revolution that has turned into an evolution, countries are actively exploring their own lands searching for a transformation that has revitalized the U.S. economy.

The global shale exploration, between 2008 to 2011, has the United States holding a record number of conventional exploration wells at 35,000; then Canada at 1,500; China and Europe tying at 6o; South America at 40; and Australia at 30.

With the United States currently the largest player in unconventional, accounting for 45 percent of total gas production today, prices have bottomed out, causing consumers to get the cheapest natural gas price to date.

"Gas going forward will be the resource needed," stated Adil Toubia, CEO of Oil & Gas Division at Siemens Energy.

Natural gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel with unconventional gas such as shale and coal bed methane compromising 57 percent of all natural gas production by 2030. Globally, recoverable shale gas resources are estimated at 188 trillion cubic meters. The United States and Canada have proven that if the shale gas bubble can change the makeup of an economy, then it can revitalize Europe's crippling economy as well.

Recent analyses by Ernst & Young reveal that the largest reserves of shale gas in Europe lie in Poland.

Toubia commented that Poland is on the brink of a boom in fracking for shale gas. The country's reserves are estimated at about 22.45 trillion cubic meters (Tcm) of shale gas, with an estimated 5.3 Tcm of technically recoverable shale gas reserves. He stated that the country can be a key player in the revolution if officials can guarantee there will be no impact on water quality.

"Water treatment and waste water management are key in developing these resources," he said.

Another continent discussed in the global shale revolution was the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia. The country recently began its exploration quest for unconventional gas resources within the last year but it does not expect commercial production to start until at least 2020.

"As Saudi Arabia has proven time and time again, the country will persevere and prove that it can and will be a player in the unconventional gas wave," stated Toubia.

With the need for feedstock for petrochemical plants, Saudi Arabia is looking for ways to develop all of its resources. The country estimates that its unconventional gas resources could be five to 10 times as much as its conventional resources.

"The global demand for resources will increase and conventional resources will not be able to fill the gap," he noted. "Unconventionals have proven to be a huge global resource."


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