The "Shale Gas Revolution" in North America has created both an opportunity and a challenge for the North Africa region for finding such unconventional resources. Approaches to finding them must be based on technology and planning to avoid unwanted expenses and error. Unconventional resources, for the purpose of this paper, are defined as tight and/or shale gas resources, although in North Africa, many of the challenges and potential solutions are equally applicable to oil rich resources. Key challenges specific to the North Africa region include the following:

  • The availability of gas in North America has shifted LNG shipments to Europe (which is North Africa's biggest export market).

  • The potential spread of this "revolution" to Europe could further erode the region's market share.

  • The region faces a lack of infrastructure and a higher cost base for developing unconventional resources.

As a result, little margin for error exists, nor can you afford to "learn by the drill bit." Therefore, you need to apply technology to reduce costs and increase well productivity and you need to develop a methodology that ensures minimal iterations. The latter requires a fully integrated approach to project evaluation, planning, and execution. As the highest portion of costs associated with developing shale/tight gas resources is for hydraulic stimulation (fracturing), this paper will focus on the best way to integrate:

  • Reservoir characteristics (rock and fluid properties)

  • Geomechanics

  • Fracturing techniques

A synergy of reservoir consultancy and pumping services has developed a close rapport and integrated approach that could be used by resource holders. This methodology can be modified to fit the requirements of NOCs or IOCs.

This paper aims to highlight these and also offer a potential approach and methodology to evaluate these unconventional resources and secondly to apply technology to unlock their potential. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the pitfalls and challenges faced by projects in North America.

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