Shale Booms in Waiting: The Most Promising Shale Plays Outside of the US

Michael Teague |

According to US Energy Information Administration report from June 2013, the United States is sitting on 58 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil and another 665 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable wet natural gas from shale and other unconventional reserves. It is these reserves that are driving what has become ubiquitously known as the “shale boom.”

A couple caveats are in order, however. First of all, there is a significant difference between what is “technically” recoverable and what is “economically” recoverable. Indeed, technically recoverable reserves designates exactly that, what can be recovered with the technology that currently exists. This number is still a theoretical one, however, because it excludes the cost of such recovery, and thus does not account for what can be produced profitably.

Second, the United States is by no means the only country on the planet with massive unconventional reserves. Not by a long shot as it turns out.

Indeed, in terms of shale oil, the US places at number two, with 58 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude in the ground. The top ten countries in terms of shale oil are as follows (in billions of barrels):

1- Russia: 75

2- US: 58

3- China: 32

4- Argentina: 27

5- Libya: 26

6- Australia: 18

7- Venezuela: 13

8- Mexico: 13

9- Pakistan: 9

10- Canada: 9

In terms of technically recoverable shale gas, the US gets knocked down a couple more pegs, to fourth place (numbers in trillions of cubic feet):

1- China: 1,115

2- Argentina: 802

3- Algeria: 707

4- US: 665

5- Canada: 573

6- Mexico: 545

7- Australia: 437

8- South Africa: 390

9- Russia: 285

10- Brazil: 245

So this is what the top ten reserves look like at the country level. In terms of the US, we’ve already taken a pretty thorough look at the nation’s various shale plays, large and small. What about the rest of the world? Where are the biggest and most promising technically recoverable reserves?

Well, June of 2013 was also the month that the EIA, in conjunction with Advanced Resources International, released their “World Shale Gas and Shale Oil Resource Assessment” based on a study of 137 shale formations in 41 countries.

Readers are free to peruse the full study here, but here’s a brief synopsis that highlights the most promising reserves ex-Us (In trillion cubic feet of gas/billion barrels of oil). When coupled with an active political imagination, this list makes for an interesting, illuminating, entertaining, and/or absolutely frightening read, depending on one’s views of a particular region or regions:

NORTH AMERICA

Canada

●     Horn River Basin - Gas: 133

●     Liard Basin - Gas: 158

●     East & West Shale Basin - Gas: 113/Oil: 4

Mexico

●     Burgos Basin - Gas: 393/Oil: 6.3

●     Sabinas Basin - Gas: 124

●     Tampico Basin - Gas: 23/Oil: 5.5

 

AUSTRALIA

●     Cooper Basin - Gas: 93/Oil: 1.5

●     Canning Basin - Gas: 235/Oil: 9.7

●     Beetaloo Basin - Gas: 49/Oil: 4.7

 

SOUTH AMERICA

Colombia

●     Middle-Magdalena Valley Basin - Gas: 18/Oil: 4.8

Colombia/Venezuela

●     Maracaibo Basin - Gas: 202/Oil: 14.8

Argentina

●     Neuquen (including the Vaca Muerta Shale) - Gas: 583/Oil: 20

●     San Jorge Basin - Gas: 86/Oil: 0.5

●     Austral-Magallanes Basin - Gas: 129/Oil: 6.6

Brazil

●     Parana Basin - Gas: 80/Oil: 4.3

●     Amazonas Basin - Gas: 100/Oil: 0.8

Paraguay/Bolivia

●     Chaco Basin - Gas: 103/Oil: 3.8

Chile

●     Austral-Magallanes Basin - Gas: 48/Oil: 2.3

 

EUROPE

Poland

●     Baltic Basin & Warsaw Trough -  Gas: 105/Oil: 1.2

Lithuania/Kaliningrad

●     Baltic Basin - Gas: 2/Oil: 1.4

Russia

●     West Siberian Central Basin (Bazhenov Central) - Gas: 144/Oil: 57.9

●     West Siberian North Basin (Bazhenov North) - Gas: 151/Oil: 16.7

Ukraine

●     Carpathian Foreland Basin - Gas: 72

●     Dniepr-Donets Basin - Gas: 76/Oil: 1.1

Ukraine/Romania/Bulgaria

●     Moesian Platform - Gas: 42/Oil: 0.5

United Kingdom

●     Carboniferous Shale - Gas: 25

France

●     Paris Basin - Gas: 129/Oil: 4.7

Germany

●     Lower Saxony Basin - Gas: 17/Oil: 0.6

Netherlands

●     West Netherlands Basin - Gas: 26/Oil: 3

Sweden/Denmark

●     Scandinavian Basin - Gas: 42

 

AFRICA

Algeria

●     Ghadames/Berkine Basin - Gas: 282/Oil: 4.4

●     Illizi Basin - Gas: 56/Oil: 0.5

●     Ahnet Basin - Gas: 60/Oil: 0.2

●     Timimoun Basin - Gas: 152

●     Reygane Basin - Gas: 121/Oil: 0.5

Tunisia

●     Ghadames Basin - Gas: 23/Oil: 1.4

Libya

●     Ghadames Basin - Gas: 47/Oil: 6.5

●     Sirte Basin - Gas: 73/Oil: 18.2

Egypt

●     Khatatba Formation - Gas: 49/Oil: 4.6

South Africa

●     Karoo Basin - Gas: 400

 

ASIA

China

●     Sichwan Basin - Gas: 627

●     Yangtze Basin - Gas: 149

●     Tarim Basin - Gas 215/Oil: 8.1

●     Junggar Basin - Gas: 36/Oil: 12.1

●     Songlia Basin - Gas: 16/Oil: 11.5

Mongolia

●     Tsagaantsav Basin - Gas: 4/Oil: 3.4

Indonesia

●     Central & South Sumatra Basin - Gas: 7/Oil: 6.9

India

●     Cambay Basin - Gas: 30/Oil: 2.7

Pakistan

●     Lower Indus - Gas: 105/Oil: 9.2

Turkey

●     Southeast Anatolian Basin - Gas: 17/Oil: 4.6

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