Halliburton’s positive perspective on European shale gas

By: Megan Roden

Whilst many observers of the European shale gas industry saw the lights fading when a number of key players pulled out of Poland earlier this year,the industry is far from lost. Poland still remains the leader in European shale gas exploration, there are increased investment incentives on the part of the Lithuanian government and positive movements across Germany.

Major shale corporations remain positive about the status of shale both in Poland and across the region. One such company is a pioneer of the shale gas industry, Halliburton.

Halliburton are positive about the future of the European shale industry, noting a number of countries that have the best potential to access their shale gas reserves. Halliburton’s Engineering Manager, Rob Hull, noted that ‘the United Kingdom, Turkey and Ukraine spring to mind with Poland and others also having potential’. Whilst the European shale gas industry is producing mixed outcomes to date Halliburton are making strides to solving many of the challenges facing the sector. Rob Hull commented ‘we are seeing diverse results. Most of what is going on is spotty in Europe. Poland was by far the most advanced with getting results and what we are discovering is that correct fluid systems are a must when stimulating’. Clean chemicals such as Halliburton’s CleanStim® are helping to solve this problem when properly applied and have shown very good results when used hand-in-hand with proper data acquisition.

In light of substantial public opposition to the shale industry across Europe Halliburton are eager to emphasise the importance of working with communities, with Rob Hull reinforcing the notion that ‘as an industry we need to educate and demonstrate to the public that we can plan and execute this safely and precisely in order to put away the concerns’.

Positive developments

Many of the other challenges facing the European shale industry are also on the road to restoration.Regulatory and fiscal regimes have continually served as a stumbling block to the success of the shale industry across Europe, with many corporations citing it as a primary reason for their departure from Poland. Halliburton have highlighted the importance of transparent and consistent regulatory frameworks to the success of the industry. Rob Hull noted ‘I am encouraged by what DECC has done in the United Kingdom as they have workflow that must be followed. We need collaboration with the service providers,operators, regulators and the public so that this is understandable in every country and we leave out the guess work. I am a big fan of the concept “PLAN THE WORK, WORK THE PLAN”’. Positive change is also beginning to emerge across Europe, with Poland looking to introduce new laws from January 2015. Said laws are designed to simplify Poland’s licensing procedures and facilitate increased exploration. Clauses determining that operators are no longer required to form joint-ventures with state-owned organisations and the pause which is to be placed on royalties and taxes for foreign companies until 2020 are set to prove particularly promising for the region.

Geological challenges

Geologyremains the most challenging aspect of the European shale industry. Whilst many hoped for shale similar to that found in the US, European shale has proved far more problematic, with each play constituting an entirely new geology and thus greater time commitment.Learning and patience are the fundamental characteristics required to succeed within the European shale gas industry. Halliburton have made such a commitment, withRob Hull commenting that ‘on the subsurface side, lack of data, proper data acquisition programs and understanding the rock are key components to what is needed. You have to apply wisdom in unconventional plays and not assume that they are all alike. While analogues are certainly useful, all unconventionals are different and need a certain approach for subsurface development’.

Shale promise

In light of all the negative press that has come out of the European shale industry there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. The region may be more challenging than the experience in America, however for future energy security, job creation and economic growth the European shale industry is one of promise.For Halliburton the key move for the industry now is ‘to educate and prove to the public and regulatory authorities that we have the ability to safely develop these reserves’. Despite initial slow progress across the region, Halliburton are certainly not deterred from the viability of the European shale gas industry. Hopefully this positive attitude marks a trend toward increased operations across the region, more of which will be discussed at the CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SHALE GAS AND OIL SUMMIT 2015, taking place in Warsaw on 9th-10th March.