Unconventional Resources in Europe
Unconventional resources like shale and coal bed gas, tight reservoirs (deep basin gas) and extra-heavy oil have become an important source of energy in North America. In Europe, the search for unconventionals has just started. The advantage in Europe is that lessons learned from North America exploration can be applied to focus on accelerated results and to better adapt to specific European requirements such as more densely populated areas.
Although exploration is concentrated on shale and coal bed gas in a corridor running from Poland through Germany to the UK, many other areas in Europe like the Paris Basin and the Pannonian Basin in Hungary are attracting interest. A large variety of unconventional exploration players are active, ranging from major companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil to smaller specialised companies like Lane Energy to local players like Rhein Petroleum. Each brings specific expertise to the unconventional play.
Although Europe is well-explored for traditional petroleum systems, the unconventional play opens new areas that have had little attention paid to them in the past. An example is the Posidonia Shale, a well-known oil source rock located in large parts of Europe. But where it is buried deep and has generated gas, it is much less explored and opens a new look at an old play. The map below shows that the southern part of the Posidonia Shale’s distribution area has seen limited exploration drilling so far.
Another example is the Baltic Depression. Exploration to find hydrocarbons in Ordovician and Silurian reefs have met with limited success in the past, but as a shale gas play, the Baltic area looks promising.
As with all new exploration plays, success is not guaranteed. The Mako project in Hungary was aiming at basin centre gas in deep, tight reservoirs in the Miocene. Although the Földeak 1 well initially flowed at 200 thousand standard cubic feet per day (Mscf/d) and 370 barrels of water per day (bwp/d), a second test could not establish an elevated constant flow. The project was abandoned and at the moment is considered not to be economically viable.
By: Jan Roelofsen is a geologist and a senior product manager of international exploration and production data for IHS.