Can the US shale revolution be duplicated in Europe ?
Can the US shale revolution be duplicated in Europe ? / Aurélien Saussay, OFCE‐SCIENCES PO, avril 2015, 22 p. (working paper ; 2015-10)
Author’s abstract :
Over the past decade, the rapid increase in shale gas and shale oil production in the United States has profoundly changed energy markets in North America, and has led to a significant decrease in American natural gas prices. The possible existence of large shale deposits in Europe, mainly in France, Poland and the United Kingdom, has fostered speculation on whether the « shale revolution », and its accompanying macroeconomic impacts, could be duplicated in Europe. However, a number of uncertainties, notably geological, technological and regulatory, make this possibility unclear. We present a techno‐economic model, SHERPA (SHale Exploitation and Recovery Projection and Analysis), to analyze the main determinants of the profitability of shale wells and plays. We calibrate our model using production data from the leading American shale plays. We use SHERPA to estimate three shale gas production scenarios exploring different sets of geological and technical hypotheses for the largest potential holder of shale gas deposits in Europe, France. Even considering that the geology of the potential French shale deposits is favorable to commercial extraction, we find that under assumptions calibrated on U.S. production data, natural gas could be produced at a high breakeven price of $8.6 per MMBtu, and over a 45 year timeframe have a net present value of $19.6 billion – less than 1% of 2012 French GDP. However, the specificities of the European context, notably high deposit depth and stricter environmental regulations, could increase drilling costs and further decrease this low profitability. We find that a 40% premium over American drilling costs would make shale gas extraction uneconomical. Absent extreme well productivity, it appears very difficult for shale gas extraction to have an impact on European energy markets comparable to the American shale revolution.