The challenges of public image, current
low prices and high costs have been balanced somewhat by technology, which
has made the endeavor of unconventional natural gas reserve retrieval financially feasible.
Shale is a fractured structure (a
structure with cracks) with free gas (the
natural gas in the fractures of the formation). Horizontal drilling exposes as
many of these natural fractures as possible to the wellbore. A formation might
be only 300 feet thick, but horizontal
drilling of up to 8,000 feet can expose
as much as two miles of production
service. That one wellbore then exposes
a much larger pay zone.
John Perry, team lead, Completions,
Mid-Continent Business Unit, Encana
Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., says one of
today’s innovations is resource play
hub, a plant model used by Encana that
enables the drilling group to drill
multiple wells on a single location.
After this is done, the project is
turned over to a crew that can com-
plete the multiple wells while remain-
ing in one location. Since the equip-
ment and personnel don’t move, high
operating efficiency levels can be
reached, reducing costs and improving
THE NUMBERS GAME
It is nearly impossible to pinpoint
exactly how much unconventional
gas is in the U.S., but estimates
hover around 380 trillion cubic
meters or 120 years of supply.
Meanwhile, according to the
Canadian Society for
Unconventional Gas, Canada has
another 31 trillion cubic meters of
“North America is the overall
leader in proven reserves,
according to Cameron’s Brian A.
Matusek. “However, the potential
throughout the rest of the world is
huge. We know that there are huge
amounts of the resource
worldwide; the question is how
much of that can become proven
reserves… Shale gas has the
potential to revolutionize the
energy picture for the world.”
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