Shale oil is the most significant development in the energy industry ever since coal was replaced by oil as the principal fuel. The noteworthy rise of shale oil extraction over the last few years has taken the market by surprise. The combination of drilling techniques together with developed hydraulic fracturing and the rebound of oil prices have made large volumes of shale oil production possible.
Despite important innovations in green energies in recent years, fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas, and coal represent the majority of the world's energy. Over the past decades, the nuclear and hydropower sources have augmented their contribution to producing energy. Going ahead, the extraction of shale oil is anticipated to keep on rising however it will be directly dependent on the cash in-flow to finance the investments in the new wells.
Since energy is the foremost necessary foundations of the modern economy together with the moderating global oil demand, there is a relative stability on high demands in the future.
Due to the innovations created throughout varied stages of oil and gas energy, the shale oil and different nonconventional reservoirs have become more economical. The investors who lost patience due to the lacklustre return of shale companies are getting hopeful since productivity increased for the same investment.
Last Friday (27 July 2018), BP unveiled a US$10.5 Billion deal to acquire 100% Petrohawk Energy Corporation, the BHP subsidiary that holds interests in the Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Permian basin shale assets. This new investment will probably ensure continued cash flow and higher yield, especially in the Permian Basin.
The changes in shale oil production and exploration will increase the energy security of the markets; however, it brings a complex set of challenges at global and local levels. The self-sufficiency ratio is projected to decrease significantly with energy import dependency. This might entail a reduction of oil trade.
Environmental and occupational hazards:
Utilization of a large amount of water and toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic process may not only become the cause of contamination but also a source of threat to drinking water.
The massive use of chemicals, associated emissions, and truck traffic have a considerable impact on the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
A number of social, cultural and economic consequences for the local communities arise from the different factors like landscape impacts, high volume of truck traffic, and the consequences of an influx of new workforces into an area.
A lot of challenges are involved to operating companies pertaining to the scale and multiple operators and contractors working in a single area raising issues for coordination and the anticipation and management of risks, including accidents and occupational health hazards.
Water supplies might be polluted if the fracturing fluid contacts fresh groundwater supplies. The fracturing fluid contains many chemical additives including hydrochloric acid, heavy metals, and radioactive chemicals, which are all extremely toxic to living organisms.
Although the oil and gas industry has adopted the techniques to determine and evaluate risks and opportunities for conventional resources, there is no clear framework to characterize these unconventional methods. But many companies have put huge resources towards new methods and to better the quality.
In a country with weak governance and poor contractor management, the major concern is to provide effective oversight for considering all complex potential impacts.
Why is shale oil important?
The development and potential of shale oil and gas and the accessibility to huge resources in the world will have considerable political and economic changes as well and this might be bringing independence and affordability in the long term.
Nearly every major petroleum company has put together a shale department staffed by geologists and engineers. The energy crisis is expanding and has become a key issue due to the increased gap in demand and supply and this could be met by a sustainable development of shale resources.
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According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria has the world’s 9th largest natural gas reserves (192 TCF of gas reserves). As at 2018, Nigeria exported over 1tcf of gas as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to several countries. However domestically, we produce less than 4,000MW of power for over 180million people.
Think about this – imagine every Nigerian holding a 20W light bulb, that’s how much power we generate in Nigeria. In comparison, South Africa generates 42,000MW of power for a population of 57 million. We have the capacity to produce over 2 million Metric Tonnes of fertilizer (primarily urea) per year but we still import fertilizer. The Federal Government’s initiative to rejuvenate the agriculture sector is definitely the right thing to do for our economy, but fertilizer must be readily available to support the industry. Why do we import fertilizer when we have so much gas?
I could go on and on with these statistics, but you can see where I’m going with this so I won’t belabor the point. I will leave you with this mental image: imagine a man that lives with his family on the banks of a river that has fresh, clean water. Rather than collect and use this water directly from the river, he treks over 20km each day to buy bottled water from a company that collects the same water, bottles it and sells to him at a profit. This is the tragedy on Nigeria and it should make us all very sad.
Several indigenous companies like Nestoil were born and grown by the opportunities created by the local and international oil majors – NNPC and its subsidiaries – NGC, NAPIMS, Shell, Mobil, Agip, NDPHC. Nestoil’s main focus is the Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning of oil and gas pipelines and flowstations, essentially, infrastructure that supports upstream companies to produce and transport oil and natural gas, as well as and downstream companies to store and move their product. In our 28 years of doing business, we have built over 300km of pipelines of various sizes through the harshest terrain, ranging from dry land to seasonal swamp, to pure swamps, as well as some of the toughest and most volatile and hostile communities in Nigeria. I would be remiss if I do not use this opportunity to say a big thank you to those companies that gave us the opportunity to serve you. The over 2,000 direct staff and over 50,000 indirect staff we employ thank you. We are very grateful for the past opportunities given to us, and look forward to future opportunities that we can get.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 July 2019 – Brent: US$66/b; WTI: US$59/b
Headlines of the week
Unplanned crude oil production outages for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) averaged 2.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first half of 2019, the highest six-month average since the end of 2015. EIA estimates that in June, Iran alone accounted for more than 60% (1.7 million b/d) of all OPEC unplanned outages.
EIA differentiates among declines in production resulting from unplanned production outages, permanent losses of production capacity, and voluntary production cutbacks for OPEC members. Only the first of those categories is included in the historical unplanned production outage estimates that EIA publishes in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).
Unplanned production outages include, but are not limited to, sanctions, armed conflicts, political disputes, labor actions, natural disasters, and unplanned maintenance. Unplanned outages can be short-lived or last for a number of years, but as long as the production capacity is not lost, EIA tracks these disruptions as outages rather than lost capacity.
Loss of production capacity includes natural capacity declines and declines resulting from irreparable damage that are unlikely to return within one year. This lost capacity cannot contribute to global supply without significant investment and lead time.
Voluntary cutbacks are associated with OPEC production agreements and only apply to OPEC members. Voluntary cutbacks count toward the country’s spare capacity but are not counted as unplanned production outages.
EIA defines spare crude oil production capacity—which only applies to OPEC members adhering to OPEC production agreements—as potential oil production that could be brought online within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days, consistent with sound business practices. EIA does not include unplanned crude oil production outages in its assessment of spare production capacity.
As an example, EIA considers Iranian production declines that result from U.S. sanctions to be unplanned production outages, making Iran a significant contributor to the total OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages. During the fourth quarter of 2015, before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action became effective in January 2016, EIA estimated that an average 800,000 b/d of Iranian production was disrupted. In the first quarter of 2019, the first full quarter since U.S. sanctions on Iran were re-imposed in November 2018, Iranian disruptions averaged 1.2 million b/d.
Another long-term contributor to EIA’s estimate of OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages is the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Production halted there in 2014 because of a political dispute between the two countries. EIA attributes half of the PNZ’s estimated 500,000 b/d production capacity to each country.
In the July 2019 STEO, EIA only considered about 100,000 b/d of Venezuela’s 130,000 b/d production decline from January to February as an unplanned crude oil production outage. After a series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 and cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, EIA estimates that PdVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company, could not restart the disrupted production because of deteriorating infrastructure, and the previously disrupted 100,000 b/d became lost capacity.