Philip H. Stark
IHS Inc, Englewood, CO
Unconventional gas plays drove a 64% increase in U.S. gas drilling from 2002 through 2006 but operators are challenged by costs, regulations, confrontations with climate change policies and price uncertainties. Corresponding unconventional gas production grew by 4 Bcfd to almost 15 Bcfd during 2006 but was only able to sustain U.S. gas production at about the same levels reached almost a decade ago. Studies showed that gas drilling achieved at least a 10% ROI in 86% of North American gas plays during 2005 when the market price averaged about $8.40 per Mcf. However, with costs increasing by some 30% during 2006 and 2007 gas prices down about $2.00 per Mcf, returns are squeezed in many unconventional gas plays. New technologies are critical to improve recoveries, efficiencies, and deliverability across the supply chain while minimizing environmental impacts. Horizontal wells, optimized frac techniques and drilling from pads examples that are boosting performance in key shale gas and CBM plays. Companies are adopting manufacturing approaches and streamlining business processes to optimize unconventional gas developments. Companies also use collaborative practices to balance developments with community & environmental concerns and regulatory constraints. U.S. unconventional gas resources are huge - exceeding 630 Tcf according to the EIA - and only about 100 Tcf were developed through 2005. The objective of this presentation is to summarize updated analyses to frame cost, gas productivity parameters and operating practices that must be considered to sustain positive ROI in the prime unconventional gas plays through the balance of this decade.