Halliburton looks to replicate the shale push in the US to other plays across the world, including the Middle East.
With regional headquarters in the UAE, the oilfield service company is within arm’s reach of the Middle East’s untapped resources.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region holds 2,547 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas, according to the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
“The [national oil companies] of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain as well as Algeria and Kuwait are all looking into how they can develop their unconventionals,” Halliburton’s MENA senior vice president Ahmed Kenawi said.
“The unconventional resources in the Middle East are related to gas, so they will try to produce the gas to help feed into their local consumption, and then they can export more oil,” Kenawi added.
For instance, Saudi Aramco said in November that it began commercial production of unconventional gas from North Arabia field in May that year.
Aramco also provided around 55 million cubic feet (mcf) per day of gas to a power station in a mining and industrial project. Its use of latest technology for unconventional resources would slash costs by 70%, the energy giant had said.
Saudi’s Jafurah Basin, located close to the world’s largest oil field, Ghawar, is similar in size to Texas’ Eagle Ford shale play.
Jafurah was expected to produce 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 5.5 mcf of gas per day in January, Aramco’s unconventional resources general manager Khalid Al Abdulqader said in March last year.
“The key is moving all the experience and learning curve of North America into the Middle East as fast as possible,” Kenawi said.
The US became a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products. At the heart of this major achievement is the surge in US shale production, in which Halliburton had a key part.
Halliburton aims to take one more step towards localising the experience in the US.
“We are bringing the learning curve of North America in reservoir insight, customised chemistry and surface efficiency into the Middle East and we are trying to make everything locally here, because the real success in the US is everything is happening locally,” Kenawi added.
A key difference between the Middle East and North America is the availability of fresh water. A 2015 study of US shale plays conducted by US Geological Survey estimated that fracking requires as much as 9.6 million gallons of fresh water per well.
Halliburton started experimenting on how to use saline water for fracking “but not yet on a large scale,” Kenawi said, noting that the trials have yielded promising results.