Alberta has huge shale oil, gas resources: study

Tue Nov 6, 2012 7:38pm EST
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A new study has identified immense oil and gas resources in Alberta's emerging shale prospects, suggesting a string of recent takeovers and land buys will yield impressive production gains for some of the world's largest oil companies.

The province's shale formations, including the Duvernay, Montney and Muskwa, could ultimately contain 3,324 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 58.6 billion barrels of gas liquids and 423.6 billion barrels of oil, according to the research, conducted by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Geological Survey.

Such figures put the deposits in league with some of the major U.S. shale plays that have significantly shifted the complexion of the energy industry from conventional operations to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Alberta, though Canada's largest oil and gas producer, has been behind many other jurisdictions in identifying and tapping many of its shale prospects, so development is still in early stages.

"The numbers fall in line, more or less, with many of the other shales, whether it's Eagle Ford or Marcellus," said Andrew Beaton, one of the report's authors, referring to the big Texas and U.S. Northeast formations where production has surged.

The study's data came in close to numbers reported by some of the companies exploring on the lands, which cover very large regions of Alberta, Beaton said.

It shows Alberta has huge potential even beyond its oil sands, currently seen as the world's third-largest crude deposit with about 170 billion barrels of proven reserves and ultimate potential of as much as 1.7 trillion barrels.

International energy companies are making large wagers on the potential. The Duvernay and Montney have been the targets of a boom in energy deal-making, with companies such as Encana Corp (ECA.TO: Quote), Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote) and Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO amassing land positions to unlock liquids-rich reserves.   Continued...