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The Role of Technology in Developing Unconventional and Tight Gas Reservoirs

16 March 2014

Abu Dhabi, UAE | The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa

Technical Agenda

Session 1: State of Technology (North America)

Session Chairs: John Daniels, Schlumberger; Ridha Abid, Weatherford; Volker Vahrenkamp, ADCO

Commercial shale gas was first produced in Fredonia, New York in 1821 by William Hurt, who dug a 27 feet deep well with a shovel and produced enough gas from that well to light a few stores and shops. Relatively limited amounts of gas continued to be produced from shallow low-pressure naturally fractured shales until the mid-1990’s when George Mitchell started developing shale gas using horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing and production took off to reach unprecedented levels. It took him 10 years, USD 6 million, and a great deal of stubbornness to make large-scale production of shale gas economic. To a large extent economics of shale gas depended on bringing down the cost of drilling and completion, however, the success of shale gas development in the US brought the price of gas down to a level where this is no longer sufficient. To continue the advance of unconventional resource development a shift is required from a well-centred approach towards an approach centred on understanding the geology of the resource.  Full integration of all data from cores, logs, and seismic will help us to understand reservoir complexities allowing effective development decisions. This will help to avoid non-productive wells and non-productive perforation clusters, currently estimated at 30% and without losing the momentum in driving down cost it will optimise return on investment. Technology is the key to economic success.

Session 2: State of Technology (Middle East/Regional)

Session Chairs: Johan Witte, ADCO; Hazim Abass, Saudi Aramco; Mahmoud Ebeid, Schlumberger

The first session is a good overview of the technologies used for the exploration, appraisal, and development of unconventional gas in North America. This second session will be spent by looking at what has been done in the Gulf area so far. In the Middle East, the increased interest in unconventional gas is mainly driven by the steep increase in domestic demand. However, many of the positive factors which played an important role in the US unconventional gas revolution/evolution such as a highly developed and competitive service industry, availability of water, gas infrastructure and ample availability of skilled staff are not available in the Middle East as yet. Therefore, we will have to learn from what has been done in North America, carefully pick and choose the technologies that are applicable in the Gulf area and climb a much faster learning curve than the 30 years it took in the US.