Governments and oil producers worldwide are watching the successful American shale oil development of the past few years, but it will be difficult for them to transport the effort outside of North America, according to speakers Tuesday at the University of Oklahoma Energy Symposium.
Chinese companies have invested in Oklahoma City based Chesapeake Energy Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and SandRidge Energy Inc. Even with the expertise they gain from those projects, similar shale projects in China are not expected anytime soon, said Robert Sheppard, former CEO of BP PLC's Russian oil company TNK.
“You need a service sector that's incredibly sophisticated with a pretty high-tech workforce,” Sheppard said. “Building that in China is going to be difficult.”
Mike Stice, CEO of Oklahoma City-based Access Midstream Partners, earlier in his career spent five years trying to develop coal bed methane throughout the world.
While unconventional oil and natural gas reserves have been found in many areas, few contain the other resources necessary for successful production, he said.
“We are blessed here in North America with tremendous infrastructure and service businesses,” Stice said.
It is not easy to quickly build the equipment and expertise needed for horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other processes for producing unconventional oil. But Stice said he expects the rest of the world to catch up eventually.
“It takes time, but they will ultimately be able to globalize what we've done here,” he said.
Philip Lambert, CEO of Lambert Energy Advisory in London, said the growing world demand for energy will force countries throughout the world to focus on shale oil and natural gas.
Lambert pointed to the Bazhenov field in western Siberia, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined, or more than 80 times larger than the oil-rich Bakken Shale of North Dakota and Montana. Russia so far has shown little interest in developing the Bazhenov, but Lambert said that likely will change soon.
“I don't think the world has missed the shale revolution,” he said.
“Just as Peter the Great went to Holland to learn how to build ships, Russia has brought in ExxonMobil and other American companies to learn shale. Russia will embrace shale oil.”