US ExxonMobil drills for unconventional gas in Germany
London (Platts)--25Jan2011/804 am EST/1304 GMT
US major ExxonMobil is drilling for shale gas in Germany, a company
spokesman told Platts by email late Monday.
"We are currently drilling exploration wells in Germany to study the
unconventional gas potential in Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia,"
upstream spokesman Patrick McGinn said.
He did not, however, say how much the company was spending on the
"We do not provide details on the financial investments of our
exploration programs," the spokesman said.
An idea of the scale of the investment was, however, provided by an
article in Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper Monday. ExxonMobil told the paper
that exploration costs could be in the hundreds of millions of euros.
The Handelsblatt article also referred to possible gas potential of 2,100
billion cubic meters in North Rhine Westphalia, although it did not give
details of how likely this was, or how much might be recoverable.
One expert told Platts that reserves estimates would depend on the
geological assumptions made.
If all that volume could be brought to market, it would be enough to
supply Germany's current level of gas consumption for about 26 years.
Germany currently imports most of its gas, from the Netherlands, Norway
BERLIN INSTITUTE PROGRESSING SHALE RESEARCH
Meanwhile, the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, based in
Potsdam near Berlin, told Platts its GASH research project into European shale
reserves was making good progress.
"We have made great strides building a European Black Shale Database, and
have now high-graded the countries so we can better focus our financial
resources," said Brian Horsfield, one of the project leaders.
The researchers have also drilled a shallow borehole on the Danish island
of Bornholm to collect geological samples for investigation.
The center's shale gas research project is aimed at discovering why gas
is sometimes present at high concentrations and why sometimes at low
concentrations within the same shale body and why production efficiency varies
The center is looking at geological samples from various shales, aiming
to reconstruct how the shale was formed and how it changed over millions of
It is comparing Alum shale from Sweden and Denmark, Posidonia shale from
Germany, Carboniferous shale from Germany and the Barnett shale from the US.
"We have gathered important data from regional down to nanometer scale to
demonstrate how gas is generated and is either retained or migrates out of the
rock," Horsfield said.
"We are pleased to see that the samples we have are representative of gas
shales worldwide, in other words of petroleum source rocks in conventional gas
systems," he added. "If this were not the case we would be very concerned
The GASH project, which started in 2009, is the first European
interdisciplinary shale gas research initiative, and is to last three years in
its initial phase.
Sponsors include: Statoil, ExxonMobil, GDF Suez, Wintershall, Vermilion,
Marathon Oil, Total, Repsol, Schlumberger and Bayerngas.
--Alex Froley, firstname.lastname@example.org
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