A Passion for Shale Gas
Schlumberger says technology will drive the European arena
It’s truly an exciting time for Chris Hopkins, Vice President of Unconventional Resources at Schlumberger Limited, the main sponsor of Shale Gas World 2010, recently held in Warsaw, Poland.
Mr. Hopkins started his presentation at the conference by saying, “I am extremely passionate about shale gas. For me it was 25 years ago when nobody cared about shale gas then. Today we’re asking ‘What will be the potential and how can it change the world?’”
As a member of the services component of the industry, he said he’d focus on the technology which will drive the European shale gas arena. Hopkins delved back into the history of shale gas in North America, recalling that in 2000 there were basically just three shale basins: the Antrim, Lower Huron and the Barnett.
“Step forward by a decade to 2010 and you can see the explosion of shale gas activity,” he said. “It’s not just one or two shales like everyone thought it would be.”
Hopkins said the technologies required for exploiting all aspects of shale gas production were very different. “The Marcellus and Eagle Ford are very much in exploration mode; when we look at Europe, must decide where appraisal fits in.”
“How is infrastructure going to improve the development of shale in Europe?” he asked, noting, “It is still purely exploration going on now in Europe.”
Technology, Hopkins said, had enabled the shale gas business in the US.
“The break even crisis – comparing 2008 to 2009 - you see a break in prices. There were still ways to improve the break-even price, a year later at these shales.”
Understanding reservoir quality and completion quality were key, according to him. Hopkins went on with a laundry list of things to think about in successfully drilling for shale gas.
“How do we get more efficient in our completions? And what is the role of environment? Do we have a reservoir and can we complete it? We also have to understand stresses to be able to complete hydraulic fracturing. We have to understand the fundamentals before we can get into the efficiency aspect.”
Hopkins then spoke about understanding reservoir and completion quality.
“What is the matrix, clays, water, and organic carbon” On the completion side, how hard is the rock, how will it fracture? It’s twice as hard, so twice as much data necessary for good reservoir quality. You can make an impact on how well a well might produce,” he explained.
Integrating reservoir & completion quality was another topic. “You examine reservoir & completion quality, recommend stages with optimal properties, and come up with variable number and lengths to recommend a specific perforation.”
Hopkins continued, “If you understand this, then you have to think about how to improve the drilling.”
He said Schlumberger’s “PowerDrive-Archer” increased reservoir exposure from being able to drill at a higher angle. “You take less trips while drilling and drill a better hole.
He provided an example in Poland: “You can see the plans for two of the wells they drill – there are large improvements, and efficiencies very early on.”
Hopkins made mention of environment. “It’s an issue in the US and also going to be around the world. At Schlumberger,” he said, “we have a fluid service called OpenFRAC designed to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements.”
“The technology will continue to evolve in the US but will also have to around the world. In the rest of the world, in exploration it’s trying to alleviate the lack of data that we have, finding sweet spots quicker, make use of seismic.”
Hopkins asked what the rest of the world would look like regarding shale gas.
“I don’t think it will be similar to US development. We have to be smarter and use what we’ve learned in North America, where we’ve drilled thousands of wells and many were poor. This model will not work elsewhere – neither the economics nor environment will justify it. We drilled some spectacular wells, but we drilled a lot of bad wells.”
He added, “We need understanding before we get into the ‘factory mode’ of well drilling.”
Integration is key, Hopkins said. “One thing important outside the US is a better integration between drillers and service companies – it’s about being able to predict and having repeatable results.”
Efficiency and environment, he said, were also key.