Developments in shale technology key to success in US: analysts

18 June 2013 03:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Testing new shale gas technology at every opportunity has led the US to further develop shale plays that were previously thought to have unrecoverable resources, industry analysts said on Monday.

“Every time you drill a new well, you have an opportunity to test something new. There are a lot of new techniques they try out on almost every well that gets drilled,” said Phani Gadde of Wood Mackenzie during the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2013 Energy Conference.

Operations are becoming more efficient with moves to 24-hour crews in order to squeeze out every drop they can, Gadde said. This has led to advancements such as a shortened drilling time per well.

Both the Eagle Ford and Bakken shale plays in the US have had much success after continued testing new technology in order to increase production.

According to Gadde, just 25% of acreage of the Eagle Ford shale play in southern Texas makes up about 80% of total current production.

However, he explained that for all the shale plays that are at work in the US, there are some that did not see production value.

“There might be plays with the right technical characteristics, but you could run into other problems when it comes to drilling,” he said. “Overall, I think technology really grew tight oil and shale into the right place in the global hydrocarbon mix.”

The Bakken shale play in North Dakota, was known about for years by geologists as a perfect example of a failed oil system before technological advancements made it one of the largest US shale plays, according to Don Gautier of the US Geological Survey (USGS).

“It just sat there not efficiently expelled,” Gautier said.

The USGS assessment found that the Bakken formation has an estimated 3.65bn bbls of oil and the Three Forks Formation, located in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, has an estimated 3.73bn bbls of oil, according to Gautier.

In the USGS 2008 assessment, there was little information on the Three Forks formation and it was generally thought to be unproductive.

However, new drilling technology resulted in a better understanding of the reservoir’s potential.

“Given the complete application of best practice technology today, our estimate is that there is about 7.4bn bbls of oil yet to be added to these reserves,” Gautier said.

The EIA Energy Conference runs through Tuesday.

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By: Anna Matherne
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