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Global Implications of the U.S. Shale Scene: Millennials, It's in Your Hands Now


The global demand for oil as a transportation fuel, and natural gas as a power- generation fuel, continues to grow. Fortunately, there is no shortage of oil and natural gas resources. Scientific innovation combined with continued advances in drilling and completion technology have revitalized the natural gas and oil industry in North America by making production from shale possible. The convergence of ideas and technology has created a commercial environment in which unconventional reservoirs could supply natural gas to the North American consumer for 50 years or more. And, although not as far along in terms of resource development, oil from the Eagle Ford and Bakken Shales and Permian Basin in West Texas could have a similar impact. Without advanced geologic understanding pore-system modeling, long-reach horizontal drilling, geosteering, staged hydraulic-fracture stimulation, synthetic and natural proppants, evolution of hydraulic-fluid chemistry, and high-end monitoring and simulation, many of these plays would not exist. Also required for success are a tolerance for risk and modern environmental practices and regulatory policies to ensure sustainability of operations. But current practices will leave upwards of 80% of oil and natural gas behind in shale reservoirs! There is great opportunity to enhance recovery through advanced reservoir understanding and imaging, improved recompletions and infill drilling, and practices that go beyond hydraulic fracturing. The path from ideas to commercialization will continue to provide economic results in unconventional reservoirs in North America. Although there are significant challenges involved with translating this success globally, this path represents a major opportunity for Millennials in the coming decades.