As gas production from conventional gas reservoirs in the United States decreases, the industry is turning more attention to the exploration and development of unconventional gas resources (UGRs). This trend is expanding quickly worldwide. However, unlike in many mature North American basins where significant development of UGRs is now routine, many countries are just turning to UGRs exploration. Insightful resource assessment is important for tapping UGRs in these frontier basins.

To evaluate the UGRs in frontier basins that are underexplored, we developed basin analysis methodology to 1) characterize basins; 2) establish analogs between frontier basins and mature North American basins; 3) estimate conventional and unconventional resources in mature North American basins; and 4) quantitatively predict UGRs in frontier basins by using information from analogous North American basins. This comprehensive basin analysis study not only validates the resource triangle, which is characterized by a large ratio of unconventional TRR (technically recoverable resources) to conventional TRR, but also makes it possible to quantitatively assess unconventional resources in under-explored basins worldwide.

To demonstrate use of basin analysis in evaluating the UGRs of frontier basins, two world hotspots for UGRs exploration were selected as the target basins: Neuquén basin in South America and Berkine basin in North Africa. Recent assessment reports and exploration activities indicate that the two basins have substantial unconventional gas resources. As a case study, basin analysis was used to identify the North American reference basins that are analogous to the Neuquén and Berkine basins, and to characterize the distributions of UGRs in these frontier basins. Furthermore, the quantitatively estimated unconventional TRR were compared with those from EIA (Energy Information Administration) and companies to support the effectiveness of basin analysis results.

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