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How can the development of shale gas production influence the global energy market?

13 мая 2010

Anatoly Dmitrievsky, Academician of RAS, Director, Oil and Gas Research Institute RAS

Shale gas production is currently underway in the USA and Canada only. Shale gas plays in the USA are thoroughly investigated. In 2009 some 67 billion cubic meters of gas was produced there. The annual production buildup is evaluated at 5.3 per cent.

Shale gas fields are being searched for in Europe currently. Largescale activities are carried out in Poland by such trans-national companies as ExxonMobil and Marathon. Work is ongoing in France, Germany, Sweden and Austria. However, it is difficult to speak about the prospects for shale gas production in Europe.

Meanwhile, the USA says that in future domestic shale gas production will allow for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports reduction. According to the US forecasts, by 2030 LNG imports may drop down by 30 to 40 per cent. Even if these forecasts come true, according to our estimates Russian gas will be demanded on the US market anyway as the USA is interested in reducing the dependence on LNG supplies primarily from the Middle East and Central Asia.

The prime cost of shale gas production is estimated to be quite high, some USD 100–150 per 1,000 cubic meters. This is a number of times higher than the prime cost of conventional gas production. The prime cost of gas production on Yamal will be lower – some USD 42 per 1,000 cubic meters, but considerable costs are required for gas transportation. Thus, the prime cost of shale gas production is suitable for its utilization near the production area – in case it is transported even not that far, it becomes uncompetitive.

At the same time, the phenomenon of shale gas should be carefully investigated and taken into consideration when shaping the export policy, as non-conventional gas has started displacing conventional gas, LNG in this case, for the first time ever.