Thanks to shale oil and gas, the world’s economy is no longer running out of energy-rich hydrocarbons. Rather, we’re now awash in a global bath of cheap oil and gas. What happened to cause this dramatic change in fortune? Simply put, North American Shale Oil and Gas Happened, using the combination of Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Drilling technologies.
The combined technologies, hydraulic fracturing and radial horizontal well drilling, provided unprecedented accessibility to the huge hydrocarbon-rich shale deposits of North America. Industify upstream oil & gas technical services helped clients to evaluate potential production sites and shale crude reservoirs, and to optimize production while supporting asset integrity management programs.
Starting in 2011, the massive growth of shale oil and gas production began in key regions such as West Texas and North Dakota, transforming the USA crude oil and natural gas markets in a profound and permanent way. Less expensive natural gas prices thanks to shale gas production has sparked a rapid restructuring of the power generation industry as power-plants reduce coal and turn to natural gas. Inexpensive feedstocks have fueled a massive expansion of the petrochemical industry and the construction of new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export plants.
The impact of shale oil on the domestic and then international crude oil market was no less dramatic during this time. The tsunami of new shale crude oil flooded the USA with inexpensive petroleum feedstocks and condensates. These new crudes found welcoming markets, benefiting Inland refiners at first, but soon followed by East Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast refineries. Limited pipeline networks in the new shale areas meant that “Crude-by-Truck” and especially “Crude-by-Rail” became viable options to get these new crude oils to market. “Crude-by-Water” has witnessed tremendous growth as barges, Jones Act Tankers, and limited international export tankers activity has ballooned in volume.
Pipelines built after World War II to send imported crude oil north from the Gulf Coast to landlocked inland refiners were reversed for the first time in their long existence, sending domestic shale crude south to Texas and Louisiana refiners and beyond. New refineries were built for the first time in decades and old ones reopened, purpose-built to handle the new shale crudes.
Imported crude oil from West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America were essentially replaced by the usage of domestic USA shale oil. Quiet places like the Bakken and Eagle Ford became household names and experienced rapid economic expansion and population growth, not unlike the California Gold Rush of 1849.
High-tech exploration and production methods
Development of oil sands, heavy oil
Gas processing, sulphur extraction
Construction and operation of pipelines
Specialized controls and computer applications
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