AAPG Middle East Region, Shale Gas Evolution Symposium

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A Rapid Transformation Towards Economic Reality: A Methodic Approach for Emerging Unconventional Play


With the limited data and well control available in emerging unconventional plays, a methodic de-risking strategy needs to be adopted, to ensure the successful assessment of the resource, while being cognizant of the economic conditions. An ideal de-risking strategy to expedite shale play evaluation should start with an exploration phase, followed by appraisal, pilot, and finally the development phases. While in the exploration and appraisal phases, the strategy should focus on intensive data gathering for the proper evaluation of the hydrocarbon presence and abundance in the basin; while the pilot phase focuses on fine-tuning drilling and stimulation best practices for optimum hydrocarbon recovery, well performance and cost efficiency. Finally, the development phase focuses on maximizing recovery with the least cost possible. To facilitate the economic realization of any unconventional resource, a unique business model must complement this de-risking strategy. The business model should focus on the decision autonomy, with a ring fenced multidisciplinary asset teams. In addition to subsurface challenges, a number of surface and logistical challenges need to be addressed in any emerging shale play around the world including, but not limited to land access, infrastructure, and environmental constraints. The economic viability of such resource plays is highly dependent on well performance and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR). That said, a strategic approach to ensuring economic viability could be to start with modular/satellite production processing facilities, before committing to larger, more costly centralized facilities. This approach will facilitate the realization of early hydrocarbon production, while gaining valuable insight into long-term well performance and reservoir behavior. To advance such challenging plays towards full-scale field development, there needs to be an active role in building capabilities in people and technologies. Both are imperative pillar upon which success of the UR program is contingent. The presentation will discusses the necessary transformation that need to be applied to advance any emerging shale play from an idea to reality.