Surprising Findings in Lithuania: Oil Shale, Not Shale Gas Underground
A new study of Lithuania’s shale resources is turning up astonishing results: the Baltic country’s depths are oil shale-rich, not full of shale gas as previously thought.
Is it a game-changer for the country of three million, or… a well-crafted gimmick ahead of a repeated shale resources exploration and extraction tender to be held in the Fall?
“The research has been carried out by our ministry’s Geological Service, and I really would not like cast a shadow on it and the findings. As far as I know, over 500 exploratory drills have been done, and in the most of the tests formations of liquid carbohydrates were detected. Not shale gas,” Valentinas Mazuronis, Lithuania’s Environment minister told Natural Gas Europe.
Only one probe, in the Ramuciai exploratory strip in Silute district in southwestern Lithuania, evidently pointed to the existence of clear condensate of shale gas.
Meanwhile, in seven out of ten drills, the results suggested fluid-like oil shale formations in the soil.
“These are still inconclusive results that need to be supported by an independent driller. But if this proves to be the case, it will be one quite surprising,” said the minister.
On the other hand, he insisted, nothing can be “surprising” when no “serious research of what we have underneath” has been done until now.
“The bottom line is we do now know what riches the depth of our soil contains. So I’m eagerly looking forward to having a repeated shale resources exploration and mining tender. I believe that its winner will be able to answer all the questions that until now leave us hesitant and reticent to pass a decision in one or another way,” Mazuronis said.
The second tender is expected to take place in the Fall. Last October, Chevron had pulled out from Lithuania, citing regulatory intricacies and high, always-being-tweaked shale taxes.
Asked if the findings could perhaps be a gimmick ahead of a repeated tender to bring more heavyweight bidders for it, the minister dismissed the speculation as “totally unsubstantiated.”
“We’re talking here of a report that the ministry is taking seriously” he counter-argued.
Oil shale in international markets is in average four-fold expensive than shale gas. So the discovery, provided it will be supported by other drills, may mean a larger cash flow for the small Baltic country.
The minister said his led ministry is now putting a lot of efforts in getting the public supportive of the shale bid.
“This is what we are focusing now as well as on putting last stitches to the legislative, especially shale taxation, basis. Only when the two are achieved we can think of announcing an international tender and expect big names to sign up for it,” Mazuronis said.