The hype and reality of Shale

Eagle Ford, Bakken, Wolfcamp are the names in the minds of many national governments resonating like gold mines. These three oil reserves are changing the US energy profile from the largest energy importer to a potential exporter. Such is the hype around shale gas discoveries and the new techniques to extract the reserves.

In the US, household gas prices have came down and productions from shale sites have expanded during the last year. New reserves have also been identified outside the US. Many countries are verifying geological features of their shale reserves.

Debates are going on, measuring the real potential of shale reserve and its extractability and viability. Oil firms agree that the US shale reserves are much easier to produce compared to reserves in other countries.

Geological feature of new shale gas reserves is that most of them need deep well mining and digging larger number of wells. In China, the shale reserves are in highly populated areas so that a rehabilitation cost is to be made.

In European countries like UK, environmentalists are opposing shale gas production indicating displacement of residential habitations. Europe is in the mood of minimizing the use of fossil fuel and is trying to migrate to renewable energies and technologies. For them, shale gas is a step backward.

New reserves are identified in Russia, Algeria, Australia and Argentina. In less inhabited countries like Australia, the cost of production may be less.

The commercial viability of shale is less in many countries now. For the time being, shale is not both cheap and abundant. Digging more will raise the cost of production. But hope that technological breakthrough will bring some good news.

In that case, new reserves will be extracted and shale definitely will play a big role in future energy scenario. At least the world has got more time to invent fresh renewable energy technologies because of shale discovery.

For energy thirsty and at the same time energy deficient countries like India, shale is good news as each shale discovery is softening the crude prices invisibly. Already the big oil MNCs are venturing strategic moves to unearth shale reserves in future. BP has made $8 billion investment in India’s Reliance and Shell is planning on China shale discoveries.

Shale may not be a super find, but it is a worthy find; which definitely will bring more joy to the energy deficient countries and hence it can’t be rated as a hype.