The Father of Shale Gas Speaks about Europe
An article in The Sunday Times features George T. Mitchell, the Texas wildcatter who experimented with a new way of gathering natural gas from tight-rock deposits of organic shale.
At 91 years young, Mitchell is regarded as the father of shale gas. His idea was to drill horizontal wells 1½ miles beneath the surface and then fracture the rock by using water pressure; pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water at high pressure into the shale, fracturing the layers and releasing the gas. This process, known as hydraulic fracturing, was revolutionary.
Mitchell’s trailblazing has led to the transformation of the American gas industry. with the US surpassing Russia as the leading producer thanks in great part to shale gas.
The article titled ‘The scramble for shale gas’, focuses on the activities of the large E&P players and their search for shale gas in Europe.
Asked if Europe will also have a revolution in shale gas, Mitchell states “You have it in Europe. They have it in China. The geology is similar. There’s no reason why it won’t develop like it did here,”
ConocoPhillips with partner Lane Energy will be the first to began drilling in Poland. ExxonMobil, Talisman Energy and Chevron are also active in the country.
Wood Mackenzie, the research firm, estimates that central and northern Poland could hold 48 trillion cubic feet of gas, which would represent a 50% increase in European reserves and make the country self-sufficient.
Other multinationals active in the search for shale in Europe including Royal Dutch Shell in Sweden and the Ukraine and OMV in Austria.
For European nations heavily dependent upon Russian sources of energy, shale gas holds the promise of one step towards energy independence and energy security.
Shale gas is a longer term play. “It took George Mitchell 18 years to make it work,” notes Larry Brogdon, partner and chief geologist for Four Sevens Oil Company. “He is the father of the Barnett Shale. He was tenacious. He started in 1981 and it really didn’t take off until 1999. And even then, it took a long time to develop it.”
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