GASH leads Shale Gas Research in Europe
Shale Gas Research: the way forward for Europe
Given that resource companies both large and small are engaged in the process of top-filing to secure prospective shale concessions in Europe, they are not likely to reveal much about their activities lest they tip their hand to competitors. That leaves much of the" public" research into Europe's shale-gas potential to academics.
One such group is called Gas Shales in Europe ("GASH"), co-ordinated by the GeoForschungsZentrum ("GFZ") in Potsdam, Germany's national laboratory for geosciences, and including the French Institut Français du Pétrole and several European universities. The Shale Gas in Europe/GASH project was launched earlier this year by GFZ.
The project is exclusively funded by industry; sponsors sign on for three-year commitments. Sponsors to date include Marathon Oil Corp., StatoilHydro, Total, ExxonMobil, Gaz de France, and Vermilion Energy. GASH is plotting a multi-year study to assess the continent's potential. One of its programmes, GeoEnergie, is studying shale-gas prospects in six German states, with funding from the government. Several corporate sponsors, including ExxonMobil, Statoil and Total, are also backing the study.
The GASH project is investigating three black shales in particular: the Cambrian Alum shale in Sweden, the Lower Jurassic Posidonia shale in Germany, and Carboniferous sediments in The Netherlands and Germany. Cores are already available from the Alum, Posidonia, and Carboniferous shales, and the group plans to drill a well on an island in the Baltic Sea to core the Alum interval this year. Productive analogies will be provided by studies of the Barnett and Marcellus shales from the US. Europe also holds potential for biogenic accumulations similar to Michigan’s Antrim shale. Analogs to the Antrim shale may occur in regions that were glaciated during the Pleistocene time, and GASH will devote some resources to study these types of shale accumulations.
Another project is GeoEn, funded by the German ministry for research and education. This six-year project will look at three areas of energy, one of which is shale gas. It is exclusively funded by Germany and will center on its indigenous shales, including black shales in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in northern Germany.