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Lux Research: Australia best positioned to be next big shale play; China and Argentina next

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked shale gas and tight oil resources previously written off as uneconomical, single-handedly altering North America’s energy landscape. Although many other countries, keen to replicate the success, have the reserves, not all shale gas and tight oil plays are feasible today, notes Lux Research in a new research report: “Uncovering Further Opportunities in the Booming Frac Market.”

Analyzing promising shale gas and tight oil markets by their relative openness to outside investment and current state of commercial development reveals countries best positioned to become the next big shale play, Lux notes. Key factors such as existing infrastructure, low population density in resource rich regions, and a welcoming government positions Australia at the forefront of shale development.

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China and Argentina are close behind, according to Lux, although the former remains plagued by poor infrastructure, local turf wars, and challenging geology while the latter retains elements of instability both economically and politically. Others such as Poland have not been so lucky, with ExxonMobil and Talisman Energy pulling out after disappointing exploration results.

This is still a relatively young technology space with plenty of opportunities for improvement. Unconventional oil and gas production requires next-generation sensors and monitoring systems for intelligent well design and fraccing. Companies like US Seismic Systems, Ziebel, Microseismic Inc., Deep Casing Tools, and Meta Downhole are leading the way. Hydraulic fracturing continues to be the dominant fracturing technique, but alternatives show promise. GasFrac leads this space with a liquefied propane gas fracturing process demonstrated at scale. Following early shortages in proppant sand, the proppant space is extremely crowded with both large and small companies, and its highly competitive nature is a major barrier for new entrants like Deep Springs Technology, CEMCO, and Terves.

According to Lux, 1.7 trillion BOE of shale is positioned to be exploited in the coming decades, with emerging technology and yet to be invented technology sure to reap many of the revenue benefits.


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