Five main challenges stand in the way of shale-gas development in Europe, said Alastair Nichol, executive advisor, Encana Corp., speaking to a crowd of 150 attendees at the Global Unconventional Gas 2010 conference in Amsterdam, organized by the Gas Technology Institute.
These challenges are surmountable, he noted:
A lack of drilling rigs necessary for horizontal wells, and limited service company infrastructure. Although these factors are seen by many as constraints on European shale development, they can be addressed through alliances with U.S. service companies and E&P firms.
Restricted surface access. Europe’s population density is much higher than North America’s, but techniques such as pad drilling can help minimize footprints.
High water usage of shale completions. The development of nonpotable water supplies will be a strategy to overcome this objection to shale drilling, said Nichol. He pointed to Encana’s efforts to find a nonpotable water supply in the Debolt formation in Canada’s remote and fragile Horn River Basin as an example that could be applied to European developments.
Lack of pipeline capacity. In Europe, the bundling of transmission and utility functions has removed some competitiveness from the midstream sector. However, pipelines can be built if needed.
Finally, the regulatory environment in Europe is considered more stringent than in North America. This will be addressed if Europe’s citizens decide that they need and want shale-gas development within their borders, he noted.
“I believe all the challenges are solvable,” said Nichol.
by Peggy Williams, Director, Unconventional Resources
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