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The Shale Revolution and Emerging Markets


1 Introduction

The global oil and gas shale revolution is arguably one of the largest technology discoveries in decades. What started in a field in Texas not long ago, has turned into a global phenomenon, with ramifications spreading across most  countries, commodities and industries. The high cost of energy is quickly  stimulating  research for new energy supplies, alternative fuels and efficiency gains, with technology as always at the immediate prospect of new developments. In spite of the full impact of this “game changing” revolution, somehow the future is uncertain considering that this is a new energy technology and regulations and environmental issues are not well delimited. Social, politics as well as economics difficulties, come into play regarding this industry – particularly given the perceived links to energy security or independence. With shale oil and gas, many countries can get in the situation were  “they do no longer dependent anymore on the Middle East for its energy needs.”

United States, is the leader in Shale gas and oil technology and production; nevertheless, most of this paper focus in emerging markets and countries studied through this summer class as the potential for shale gas and oil goes beyond North America and its voracious appetite for energy. The shale revolution seems set to play a crucial role today, to provide a major new energy source to facilitate global economic development particularly in emerging markets around the world.

2. Perspective on Energy Trends

The following chart ( Exhibit 1) shows that web searches related to “fracking” have been rising sharply while searches related to “peak oil” are near decade lows, a perfect setup for oil prices to surprise on the upside. The next big question is this: how much of a price increase can the fragile global economy handle at present?

Exhibit : Source Google Trends

Global Dependence on fossil fuels is presenting economic and political challenges in all nations. The high cost of oil and environmental concerns regarding coal greenhouse gas emissions  are stimulating the search for alternative fuels and mitigating technologies. The cost of energy is too high to enable unfettered use of fuels in emerging markets in the same manner as experienced in the United States and Europe during their industrialization. In particular, the heavy reliance on imports of expensive oil is a major source of concern for nations like China and India. These two nations face a dramatic impact on world energy use, and will dominate growth in use over the next 2-3 decades.

Nowadays, China and India are likely to retain an energy mix dominated by coal is the one fuel of which they have strong natural endowment. However, the quest to reduce their footprint  and become “ environmental friendly nations” is essential for  both countries’ long-term energy planning. The accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power facility, is leading to a more rapid substitution of nuclear energy by gas (and coal) in Japan and many other countries, which are rethinking, on the approach to adopting nuclear power  and looking for safer alternatives. China is primarily seeking to protect economic growth and security of supply, and developed nations, which are more heavily influenced by populations now more fearful of nuclear energy and urging a stronger contribution from renewable energy sources.

According to the energy collective, USA production of crude oil and natural gas liquids grew by roughly 2 million barrels per day (MBD) from 2008-12, there is  a similar increase expected by 2020, As a result, United States oil imports are and will be shrinking, scrambling long-established supply patterns. Nonetheless, North America is not the only place where supply and regional extraction of gas and oil is expanding, and  the shale revolution alone in not responsible for this shrinkage, alternative energy from wind, solar panels, geothermal and even tides energy production are getting the world’s oil consumption reduced.

2.1 Non-OECD nations driving growth; reliance on fossil fuels

A latest report from Credit Suisse states that fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) continue to dominate the energy mix ‒ this includes use of these fuels to generate energy directly, but also consumption as a raw material in broader uses. Hydroelectric power, nuclear power and renewable energy sources make up barely 10% of global primary energy use. Gas has grown its share of the energy mix, at the expense of oil, while coal use has grown too, led by China. energy use in the OECD nations appears to have essentially peaked, partly as a result of the Great Recession, and non-OECD countries have dominated growth in energy use, especially since the early 2000s ( Exhibit 1) the large populations of China and India, combined with rising incomes and rapid industrial development, are at the heart of this trend.


(Exhibit 1) Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012

3. Emerging Markets and their Impact on Global Gas Markets

3.1 Poland:

Poland has the largest technically recoverable resources (187 tcf according to the EIA), this country is currently the European leader in terms of making things easy for investment, granting licenses and commencing exploration, founded largely on their desire to break dependence on Russian imports. Poland has some of Europe’s most favorable infrastructure and government support for shale exploration and development. The Baltic Basin in northern Poland seems to be the most prospective region with easy accessibility and mild environmental conditions. The Podlasie and Lublin basins of this country also show potential, however, they are  complex areas, with closely spaced faults, which may limit horizontal shale drilling. A fourth area, the Fore-Sudetic Monocline in southwest  region of Poland, is less recognized but has non-marine coaly shale potential similar to Australia’s Cooper Basin. ( Exhibit 2)

From north central Poland to the south east corner is a broad strip with significant shale gas potential. To date, significant activity has developed and  the complexity of Polish legislation and tensions with the EU over the application of EU directives on energy in Poland are little but little a thing from the pass. There has been much hype over the potential but until there is some significant drilling activity all estimates of the potential are little more than guesses. Recently, after a great initial enthusiasm and initial negotiation, companies such as ExxonMobil, Talisman and Marathon Oil threw in the towel and quit the country as new regulations needed for further exploration and operations gets continuously delayed.

3.2 Ukraine

Ukraine as well as many other European nations is dependent on Russian imports, this country, recently awarded licenses to Chevron and Shell. Ukraine has been a less attractive option to foreign investors because of restrictions on the size of exploration areas, which led to Marathon Oil’s exit in 2008. A new government has begun to address these problems and has made important headway on change. Ukraine’s shale gas deposits of 42 trillion cubic feet (1.2 trillion cubic meters), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, holds Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves, sees the development of its energy resources as vital for reducing its dependence on Russian gas imports. This country signed  in January  a production sharing agreement with Shell for the Yuzovka shale gas area, which is expected to eventually provide Ukraine with 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year. But so far, Shell hasn’t been involved in the exploration or development of traditional gas deposits in Ukraine. According to ExxonMobil’s estimation of Ukrainian offshore and continental gas reserves, the country may achieve annual gas production of 45 billion cubic meters by 2020


Exhibit 2 Source Credit Swiss

3.3 Russia and Europe Energy Dependency in Russia

Russian shale oil reserves are estimated at 75 billion barrels, which puts the country on top of the global standings, followed by the US and China. According to the report by (EIA). The majority of Russia’s current oil production (nearly two thirds) comes from large fields in the West Siberian Basin, located between the Ural Mountains and the Central Siberian Plateau, with the remaining oil production coming mainly from the Volga-Urals region, the Timan-Pechora Basin, the north Caucasus Region, and the Sakhelin Basin.

Almost every European country is a net gas importer, with historically high dependence on Russian supply, and increasingly, overseas liquefied natural gas, creating both economic and political imperatives for supply diversification via domestic sources.  All of the supermajors and several dozen E&Ps ( Environmental and Public Service) have grabbed acreage, often at rock-bottom valuations. Among several identified, high profile European shale plays, including the Silurian in Poland, Posidonia in Germany/Netherlands and Alum in Denmark/Sweden shales. However, hurdles have impeded commercial development, resulting in disappointingly slow progress over the past two years. Perhaps counter intuitively, the main obstacle is not the existence of outright bans on shale gas drilling and fracking, although these get a disproportionate share of attention. Only France and four smaller countries have a ban in place; whereas 18 countries have granted permits at least on a small scale. However,  permitting is not everything. Europe’s onshore rig count of ~70 pales in comparison to ~1,700 in the U.S. Trained crews and infrastructure are hard to come by or nonexistent, and the location of shale acreage near population centers presents additional challenges North American operators rarely face.

3.31 Bazhenov Shale

To date, it is too early to estimate that Russia possesses one of the biggest shale gas reserve globally. Located in Western Siberia Bazhenov shale has a territory of about 1 million square kilometers. The shale layer is about 2 km deep but only 20-30 meters thick. Due to its low permeability and very controversial exploration data the reserve estimates vary wildly, from 2 billion to 140 billion tons. Despite very high oil density in the shale the recovery is estimated only at 7%, much lower that for the oil produced at traditional fields. At the same time oil of Bazhenov shale is of high quality, its chemical composition is close to the one of Brent with very low sulfur content.  So far only Surgutneftegas has drilled about 600 wells (almost all vertical though) and the flow rates varied from 5 to 300 tons per day; 37% of the wells turned dry. Nevertheless, the Russian government and the Russian state-owned oil companies have expressed keen interest in developing Bazhenov shale, which is expected to replace falling domestic conventional oil production from 2020. ( Exhibit 3)

Exhibit 3 Source: Advanced Resources International, Inc 2013


The Russian government has already expressed it readiness to waive Mineral Extraction Tax for heavy oil production. Whether the Russian government is also ready to provide a much needed export duty reduction is still under question. Bazhenov shale is a promising region with potentially significant oil reserves. At the same time it is too early to say whether it will be commercially developed and become economically viable.

3.4 China

China has abundant shale gas and shale oil potential in seven prospective basins: Sichuan, Tarim, Junggar, Songliao, the Yangtze Platform, Jianghan and Subei ( Exhibit 4) China has an estimated 1,115 Tcf of risked, technically recoverable shale gas, mainly in marine- and lacustrine-deposited source rock shales of the Sichuan (626 Tcf), Tarim (216 Tcf), Junggar (36 Tcf), and Songliao (16 Tcf) basins. Additional risked, technically recoverable shale gas resources totaling 222 Tcf exist in the smaller, structurally more complex Yangtze Platform, Jianghan and Subei basins. The risked shale gas in-place for.


Exhibit 4 ( Source Advanced Resources International, Inc, 2013)


As the only country with more identified shale gas resources than the U.S., China offers virtually limitless running room for future development. The good news is that the government strongly supports boosting domestic gas supply: not just because coal-related pollution is causing a health/environmental crisis, but also due to old- fashioned energy nationalism. The bad news is that the state-controlled oil and gas companies, mainly CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec don’t yet have sufficient know-how, and  tend to be bureaucratic, slow-moving organizations with minimal risk-taking appetite. China conducted its first shale acreage auction in June 2011, with four blocks licensed to six state enterprises. A second auction in late 2012 had a broader scope: 20 blocks were awarded to 16 firms, all of them Chinese, including six state enterprises, two private exploration companies and eight investment firms backed by provincial governments.

By year-end 2012, around 80 shale gas exploration and appraisal wells have been drilled in China (mostly in the centrally located Sichuan Basin), albeit with an immaterial amount of production. Sichuan is considered to hold the greatest resource potential, along with the Tarim Basin in the sparsely populated far west. That said, Chinese shale plays are spread out among over 150 basins, with extremely limited infrastructure in nearly all of them. Formations tend to be complex and average twice as deep as most U.S. shales, with typical well costs ranging from $5 million to $12 million (an admittedly wide fairway). Water scarcity has also proven to be a major obstacle to reach the government’s 230 Bcf/year production target for 2015, this would require as much as one-third of all the water currently being used by China’s entire industrial sector. Finally, government-imposed caps on domestic gas prices are impeding private sector investment, a situation similar to Argentina’s.

For western operators, Shell’s recently approved production-sharing contract with PetroChina for the Fushun shale gas block in the Sichuan Basin marks the first contract of its kind in China. Last August, Shell committed to spending $1 billion per year on shale exploration in China. (Shell also holds significant non-shale gas acreage in the country, including producing blocks in the Ordos Basin and the Jinqiu and Zitong blocks, both in the Sichuan Basin.) A substantial drilling program is underway this year and next. Shell’s head of international oil and gas production said in April that China is the most advanced of the company’s shale gas projects outside North America, noting that at least 30 wells are needed to adequately understand a new shale play, with 23 drilled to-date and another 18 on tap for the rest of 2013. PetroChina also has a joint study agreement with Eni for cooperation on the Rongchang shale gas block (Sichuan Basin). Sinopec has multiple partnerships with western operators: Exxon on the Meigu block (Sichuan Basin), BP on the Kaili block (Qiannan Basin), and Chevron on the Longli block (Qiannan Basin). All three partnerships are in very early stages; Chevron drilled its first well in 1Q12 and has committed to an additional three wells, though there is no timetable for spudding.

While needle-moving shale gas projects for western operators appear quite distant, their international counterparts in the oil service domain arguably have more visible near-term opportunities, both conventional and unconventional. For example, Schlumberger has teamed up with the utility Huadian in addition to buying a 20% stake in Hong Kong-listed Anton Oilfield Services Group. Halliburton is working with SPT Energy Group, Baker Hughes with Honghua Group, and Weatherford with CITIC Resources. To be clear, many more service companies have a presence in China, but for the most part that is limited to manufacturing facilities.

3.5 India and Pakistan

India oil demand grew by 2.3% to 3.9 mb/d in May.  Diesel fuel fell after recent subsidy cuts.  Overall demand growth is projected to increase to 3.5% in 2014. India and Pakistan contain numerous basins with organic-rich shales. For India, the study assessed four priority basins: Cambay, Krishna-Godavari, Cauvery and Damodar Valley. The study also screened other basins in India, such as the Upper Assam, Vindhyan, Pranhita- Godavari, Rajasthan and South Rewa. However, in these basins the shales were thermally too immature or the data for conducting a rigorous resource assessment were not available. For Pakistan, the study addressed the already extensive Indus Basin. (Exhibit 5)

Evaluating the shale gas and oil resources of India and Pakistan posed a series of challenges. Only limited publically available data exist on the geologic setting and reservoir properties of the numerous shale formations in India and Pakistan. In addition, the shale basins in these two countries are geologically highly complex.  Many of the basins in India, such as the Cambay and the Cauvery, comprised a series of extensively faulted horst and graven structures. As such, the prospective areas for shale gas and oil in these basins are often restricted to a series of isolated basin depressions (sub- basins). While the shales in these basins are thick, considerable uncertainty exists on the areal extents of the prospective areas in these basins. The exploitation of shale gas resources is garnering increasing attention in India, which relies on oil imports to fuel its growing economy.

In November 2010 , India signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Geological Survey for technical assistance to assess shale gas resources and advance energy cooperation between the two countries. ONGC, India’s largest upstream player, is drilling a series of pilot shale gas wells in the Damodar basin. Reliance Industries, the country’s biggest gas producer, recently spent $3.5 billion on three shale gas projects in the United States . Some say the deals were as much to acquire shale gas technology and know-how than simply the assets. But other observers believe India’s shale gas timelines are too aggressive and need to reflect the enormous differences between the evolving Indian gas market and the mature U.S. sector. Therefore, is shale gas a real opportunity for India to feed the next generation of gas power plants or is it a pipe-dream? What should regulators and operators do to avoid the experience of coal bed methane, which after several rounds of auctions is contributing only a miniscule 5 per cent of the Indian natural gas supplies? How should the regulators create a conducive regulatory environment? How should prospective shale gas operators, e.g. power generators and exploration and production companies, approach their shale gas strategy?


Exhibit 5 ( Source Advanced Resources International, Inc, 2013)

U.S.A. is not a Blueprint for India, the North American shale gas industry has been evolving over the last 20 years. Early investigations identified shale gas as a potential resource in the early 1980s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the technology became available to produce the gas at commercial rates. While technology is transferable, there are many significant differences between the U.S. model and conditions in India. These differences need to be identified and incorporated into business models and regulations if shale gas is to transform India’s energy balance. Shale gas requires large physical and technical resources, while in the USA, there is a deep pool of experienced field personnel and geoscientists whereas India’s skill pool is much smaller and has a longer time-to-autonomy. Accessing and ramping up the technical and project management skills is even more critical when looking at unconventional gas because the production profile of shale gas wells is shorter and steeper than for conventional wells and hence drilling campaigns have to be closely coordinated with gas evacuation projects. In case of conventional projects, a delay of six months to a year in technology

In addition, Indian operators will need to build the surface infrastructure to transport drilling rigs and pipe the water necessary in the shale gas exploitation process. Land access and local regulations. Shale gas production in the United States developed in largely sparsely 44 populated areas. In India, where the population density is tenfold that of the United States, shale gas production may face local opposition because of disruption to communities from drilling activities. There are also differences in lease agreements: the subsurface rights vest with the government in India, while the surface rights lay with the landowner. Therefore, landowners in India are unlikely to benefit directly from the development of shale gas resources. In the United States, both the surface rights and the mineral rights rest mostly with landowners, who may sell their rights to developers.

4. Policy Analysis and Environmental concerns

As with anything that seems to deal with oil or gas extraction, Shale extraction has its environmentalists who are up in arms about the fact that the attempts to extract the natural gas from the shale are tearing up the environment. Let’s move back to the USA where we have longer history of shale and oil and more records in the subject. The Catskill Mountaineer, for example, points out that the practice of “fracking” (or hydraulic fracturing), involving the injection of water, sand and chemicals into the shale layer at high pressure, leaves those chemicals underground to contaminate the groundwater (Marcellus Shale, 2009).  The publication also goes on to say that pollution from oil and gas explorations has spewed known carcinogens into the air, while the forests in both New York and Pennsylvania are suffering because of the trees and other fauna that had to be cut down to make way for roads, truck traffic and drilling pads (Marcellus Shale, 2009).  Then there are the normally occurring radio active materials, or NORMs, which are found in geological formations and brought to the surface both on drilling equipment and fluids (Marcellus Shale, 2009).  It has gotten so bad that New York City officials demanded a ban on natural gas drilling near upstate reservoirs in 2008 because of fears that drilling could contaminate the city’s drinking water (Marcellus Shale, 2009).

The Indypendent, in the meantime, reports that fracking leaves all kinds of chemicals in the groundwater, though Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the largest leaseholders in the shale, announced that it wouldn’t drill in the New York City watershed (Lee, 2009). Still, there is no permanent protection from fracking or anything else that destroys the environment. At this time, those wanting to drill the shale and those opposing it are throwing environmental reports at each other, with each of the reports pegged to the particular interest of the particular group. In the meantime, drilling goes on, while environmentalists and the natural gas companies’ scream at one another.

One operator on the Marcellus Shale in United States was bewildered, wondering why oversight of fracking might be passed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Merritt, 2009).  The states do a “pretty darn good job,” said one of the operators, when it comes to regulating; states enforce regulations probably better than the EPA would (Merritt, 2009). As the latest Credit Suisse report shows, environmental concerns have played a big part in the quest to unlock the shale gas potential in Europe. Fracking moratoriums have been imposed in France (July 2011), Bulgaria (January 2012) and Romania (May 2012), whilst the Netherlands have put shale gas drilling on hold for a further year as an investigation is carried out into the environmental risks. While further studies are needed considering that this is a new technology, the main problems to date are:

  • Induced Seismic Activity.
  • Contamination of groundwater.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Water sourcing and disposal.
  • The second water issue if that approximately 10-40% of the fluid will return to the surface bringing with it the natural gas and added chemicals.
  • NRDC notes that the infrastructure needed to develop oil shale would impose equally serious demands on local landscapes. The group warns that impressive arrays of wildlife would be displaced as land is set aside for oil shale development. And it says that while open pit mining would scar the land, in-situ extraction would require leveling the land and removing all vegetation.
  • In addition to the environmental impacts of oil shale, vast amounts of energy are required to support production. In Driving it Home, NRDC cites Rand Corporation estimates that generating 100,000 barrels of shale oil would require 1,200 megawatts of power—or the equivalent of a new power plant capable of serving a city of 500,000 people. Proponents of oil shale have a stated goal of producing one million barrels of the resource per day.

The fracking process uses liquid under high pressure to fracture shale rock, and the water that emerges at the end of the process is highly saline. As a result, desalinating this brackish water could play an important role in limiting the environmental damage caused by the fracking process. To minimize the environmental impact of the remaining brine from inland desalination plants, one option is to use the salt from the brine for industrial purposes, such as the production of hydrogen, chlorine and sodium hydroxide through electrolysis. China, a global leader in the production of salt, already makes extensive use of brine from desalination plants.

5. The Demand Pull From Emerging Markets Keeps Pressure Upstream

Although one would imagine that substitution and efficiency gains should undermine the pace of global oil demand growth in due time, it’s worth noting that even a long stretch of high and rising oil prices has not materially degraded the thirst for more energy across Emerging Markets (EM). Indeed, arguably, a long spell of high and rising prices last decade was required to keep the pace of global growth in check.  Global oil demand growth continues to prove much more resilient than consensus expectations. So much so, that in the short- to medium-term. Neither the technology nor policies are in place to derail the current oil demand growth dynamic.  Global oil demand trend growth has oscillated around 1% pa through a few economic cycles in the last 18-years. More important is that since 2005 oil consumption in so-called Developed Economies has begun a secular down-trend. EM oil use, however, still grows.

Coal was the clear primary energy winner during the commodities “Super Cycle,” while oil mainly priced itself out of the boom. Nevertheless, and despite high prices, between 1995 and 2010 non-OECD (ex-FSU) oil demand growth maintained a steady 4% CAGR. The lasting driver of oil demand growth has been the need for transportation in rapidly industrializing and urbanizing Asian and Middle Eastern economies, of late supplemented by growing oil use linked to expanding resource sectors in South America and Africa.

6. Conclusion

It is possible that ten years from now, the energy content in US exports of coal and natural gas will be higher than that of its much-reduced net imports of oil. As result,  US energy independence it can be a possibility. Nevertheless, even if it can be assumed that oil demand in this country enters into a structural decline and that oil supplies continue to grow dramatically in the next ten years, the US will still need to import about one-sixth of its oil, compared to one-half today. Equally important, the price of oil will probably still find a relatively high floor, which could be near  US$90 (real, 2011) per barrel of Brent for at least the next few years, which is the cost of either producing a new “marginal” barrel of oil (shale oil in the US) from out of the ground at a profit or buying it from the world’s main sovereign exporters.  While full-cycle upstream costs in the US are eventually likely to deflate, prices will need to stay elevated to elicit historically high spending for years to come. ( Exhibit 6)

In our time, we are living the shale revolution and new technologies are speeding up the extractions of oil and gas all over the world; However, and considering that this is a new way to get energy around the globe, countries face serious problems in their policy and regulations. There have been some concerns raised about contamination of ground water during the fracking process, but this is most likely an avoidable problem as new technologies develop. Nations and politicians should be happy to have large new proven reserves of gas, apart from current producers of Liquefied Natural Gas and the Russians, both of whom will be subjected to unexpected competition.

Exhibit 6 (Source NYMEX)

The need for energy security among nations is key, as is the right of emerging and developing economies to provide enough and reliable energy for their citizens to enjoy the sort of comforts that people in the developed countries  take for granted. It is also quite reasonable to expect considerable technical progress in energy generation and storage to occur over the next decade or two. Even when we face uncertainty regarding the environmental problems that shale oil and extraction may bring,  policy makers should not be unduly influenced by a single research paper or report, technology and development should not stop and the shale revolution only brings great news for all, cheap energy is always a plus.

7. Appendixes








8. References

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Kramer, Bruce M. (2004, Spring). Drilling in the Cities and Towns: Rights and Obligations of Lessees, Royalty Owners and Surface Owners in an Urban Environment. Petroleum Accounting and Financial Management Journal, 23(1), 58-81.

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1 Comment

  1. Wes

    October 29, 2013 @ 7:00 am


    Great post, looks like something I would read in Foreign Affairs

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