Successful shale production in Europe still 5-10 years away

07 March 2012 18:29  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Europe’s history of unconventional gasoline developments is still at least 5-10 years away compared with that of North America, producer executives said on Wednesday.

In Europe, the priorities for developing shale gas lean more toward protecting the environment and engaging the community rather than on energy security like in North America, said Peter Clutterbuck, CEO of independent European oil and gas group 3 Legs Resources.

However, the appetite for shale gas development differs across Europe. Western Europe, where the population is denser, is maintaining a focus on having proper environmental regulations in place. In eastern Europe, there is more of a need for energy security.

“What shale needs in Europe is government regulations that encourage development,” said Clutterbuck at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

Shell global theme director of unconventional gas Melvyn Giles said there are 25 shale wells drilled in Europe compared with the more than 30,000 wells drilled in North America.

Giles said a key to European shale developments is sharing knowledge with North America, where shale production has proven viable.

“To be successful in Europe, you need a new industry. You also need knowledge,” said Giles.

The predominant areas in Europe for shale exploration are in the Baltic Basin and in Poland. Clutterbuck estimated that it takes about 15 test wells in the US to ensure that area is viable for shale production.

He said it takes several steps to get from exploration to production, and even though testing in the Baltic Basin is not through the exploration phase, it could reach that number this year. Approximately 11 wells are estimated to be drilled in the Baltic Basin in 2012 in addition to the wells already there.

“It’s an evolution rather than a revolution,” said Clutterbuck.

IHS CERAWeek runs through Friday.

By: Anna Matherne

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