Unconventional plays are at the center of the renewed interest in natural gas. A majority of forecasts agree that gas consumption will increase over the next several decades and the experience in North America has shown that technically challenging reserves can be economically accessed. The industry is focusing on leveraging what has made this transformation possible in North America: technology. However, equally important are portfolio management and development practices that have defined who the market leaders are in terms of financial performance. The inherent subsurface uncertainty that characterizes unconventional plays throughout their lifecycle makes investment decisions around land acquisition, infrastructure development, and drilling programs challenging. This uncertainty comes on top of the other variability faced by conventional operations. The gradual investment profile of unconventional gas offers operators the opportunity to mitigate their risks and implement required course corrections in land strategy, well design and drilling sequence. Operators can use the real options approach to maintain the flexibility needed in making portfolio decisions and utilize a flexible operating model for the development phase to drive efficiencies as well as proactively address possible shifts in the reservoir configuration or the economic environment. These "non-technical" lessons learned are particularly relevant today as the industry continues its investment in North America (Marcellus) and takes significant interest in overseas assets (Europe and Asia). These plays, while potentially attractive, hold a fair amount of uncertainty which technology alone will not be able to address- business practices will have a central role to play in managing these risks.

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