Shale gas is burgeoning and it is American petrochemical that using for low-cost source of gas as a raw material. Shale gas has changed the us energy market and is threatening to do the same for energy markets around the world. As more shale gas is brought to the market prices have come crashing down relative to rising oil prices.
Vast Shale rock formations with very high hydrocarbon content have been known to exist for nearly a century from geological mapping and drilling for oil and gas across the US. These rock formations were considered to be too tight to release oil or gas until new techniques were developed. The techniques have also been known for a while. “Horizontal Directional Drilling” put in practice widely in the 1970s and 1980s and “Hydraulic Fracturing” or “Fracking” first put into practice in the 1950s.
Horizontal Directional Drilling allows the drilling of an oil/gas well horizontally in the rock seam for up to several miles. Fracking is the practice of blasting the rock layers underground to fracture the rock allowing high pressure sand, water and chemicals to be pumped into the fracture to allow the oil and gas to flow. In particular a unique feature of Shale is that it often produces more natural gas than oil and the natural gas produced is often wet with Natural Gas Liquids such as ethane and propane. These materials can be recovered from the gas as feedstock to petrochemical operations.
What about advantage yo US and for how long? In Europe gas prices are twice that of America. So it is no surprise that some European countries are keen to replicate America’s shale gas boom. But it is not quite as straightforward. Costs are higher in Europe because of difficult geology.
As demands on energy around the world continue unabated, it is inevitable that shale gas will play an important role. Initial surveys indicate Poland has enormous reserves of shale gas, as much as 5.3 trillion cubic metres – equivalent to 300 years of their domestic consumption.