Muscat: The shale-gas boom led by the US has triggered interest in the Middle East to explore and tap unconventional gas resources as the US has indicated it is willing to share its experience in this field.
This was the message delivered at the SPE Middle East Unconventional Gas Conference and Exhibition (UGAS) which began yesterday at the Al Bustan Palace – A Ritz Carlton Hotel.
The three-day event, opened by Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, under secretary at the ministry of oil and gas, is focused on the theme 'Unconventional and tight gas: bridging the gaps for sustainable economic development.'
During his speech on the opening day, Bill Roby, vice-president (Worldwide Engineering and Technical Services), Occidental oil and gas, asserted that there are many challenges in developing unconventional gases, but by applying the correct technologies in the right places, these challenges can be overcome.
He further noted that "a couple of questions arise with reference to the Middle East, such as: Can unconventional gas be profitable? Will unconventional gas unit costs compete with new large sour gas projects? These will need to be tackled."
Also, Robert Frimpong from Wintershall Middle East later spoke on opportunities, challenges and rewards available to the industry. He said that with shale gas expertise now coming from abroad, countries are able to tap their unconventional gas resources.
He added, "Though this production started in the US, it is good to see it moving to other countries."
Further, Zaid bin Khamis Al Siyabi from the Ministry of Oil and Gas, who is the UGAS executive committee chairman, said that "Results from recent gas explorations and appraisal activities in the Middle East indicate that the region holds substantial unconventional gas resources, especially tight gas.
"Regardless of the existence of highly productive conventional gas fields in this region, tight gas related exploration and appraisal activities in several countries have increased and are expected to accelerate in the coming months."
Al Siyabi added, "With improved knowledge, as well as the development of innovative and more advanced technologies in drilling, fracturing, completion, and evaluation, as well as its extensive application in North America, the production of unconventional gas can be made more economically feasible and much more efficient to develop."
Others who spoke included Darryl Willis, vice-president, Resource, North American Gas, BP, and Egbert Imomoh, non-executive chairman and co-founder, Afren and Colin Davies from Hess Corporation.
During the conference the view emerged that shale gas development has proven to be a success in North America and this can be applied to Oman, though it might require a different working model.