Rethinking unconventional oil and gas: Kemp
In practice it is not easy to tell where conventional petroleum production ends and unconventional production begins. In assessing how quickly shale and other unconventional petroleum resources will be developed, location matters.
Large shale resources in countries which are already major conventional producers and exporters may not have much impact on oil and gas availability: the shale accumulations may end up "queued" behind a long line of conventional projects as the host nation restricts resource development to support prices.
By contrast, shale accumulations in countries which are net importers and/or have few conventional supplies of their own look set to be developed much more quickly.
Unconventional oil and gas resources are often located in the same sedimentary basins as conventional oil and gas fields. In many cases, the shale or tight rocks which are targeted by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were the original source for the oil and gas found in more conventional reservoirs.
Petroleum geologists talk about a "total petroleum system" (TPS) that includes all the essential elements (source, reservoir, seal and overburden rocks) and processes (generation, migration and accumulation) linked to a particular source of oil and gas.
A total petroleum system will normally include both discrete accumulations of oil and gas in conventional pools, reservoirs and fields, as well as more extensive "continuous-type accumulations" in shales and tight rocks ("The
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