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William Fisher - Presentation from NCGRT on Vimeo.

The American Revolution in Unconventional Oil & Gas Continues

Presented by: William (Bill) Fisher

Abstract: Significant production of oil and natural gas from unconventional reservoirs is a phenomena of the past decade, with natural gas production increasing by a factor of 4 in the last 5 years, now constituting 54% of total U. S. production, and with oil increasing by a factor of 5 in the last five years, now making up 49% of total U. S. production. Natural gas prices now average about $2.75 per MCF, down from an average of $6.0 a decade ago, a decrease attributable directly to supply increases. Oil prices are down more than 50 % worldwide with U. S. production from unconventional shale resources one of the major factors. The positive economic impact and the benefit to consumers worldwide of the shale revolution in the U. S. has been immense. The fall in oil price impacts producers. Still with rapidly advancing production technology and price hedging production levels should remain substantial. One recent projection shows U. S. oil production reaching and all-time peak of 9.7 million barrels per day by September 15 (assuming $55 per barrel oil price). Production is projected to remain near that level for the next decade, at least. Environmental concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing persist, but with advance of the revolution these have changed focus and have been reduced in scope. There is little or no expressed concern for groundwater contamination from fracking simply because no case of such has been demonstrated. Shift has largely been to surface operations, especially the role of waste water disposal in inducing seismicity and the above-ground emissions of methane. Emission controls (at a profit in most cases) are substantially reducing methane emissions into the atmosphere, but well injection role in potentially induced seismicity is a more complex, though solvable issue. Water use remains a concern but recycling has vastly increased and brackish to saline water is increasing used in place of fresh water. April 17, 2015 Biographical information: William L. Fisher Professor and Leonidas T. Barrow Centennial Chair in Mineral Resources, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin William L. Fisher is the Leonidas T. Barrow Chair and Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, he served as the Inaugural Dean and the first Director of the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences, a school he was instrumental in founding as well as securing its substantial endowment. He is a former long-time director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, former chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences and former director of the Geology Foundation. Dr. Fisher is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and serves currently as a member of the National Petroleum Council and Chairman of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Board of Trustees. He served as Assistant Secretary of Interior for Energy and Minerals under President Gerald Ford. Fisher has chaired and served on numerous state and federal advisory boards, as well as committees and boards of the National Research Council and professional societies. He has also served on several corporate boards and currently serves on HRT Brazil. He served on the White House Science Council under President Ronald Reagan. Fisher's research has focused in the areas of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and oil and gas assessment. In 1967 he introduced the concept of depositional systems-now a household term and a fundamental part of modern stratigraphy and sedimentology, as well as the basis for modern resource assessment by class or play. In 1987 he led an assessment team for DOE that turned around the then-prevalent view of natural gas scarcity. He has championed the importance of technology in resource availability and has been a leader in the rethinking of the significance of reserve growth from existing, geologically complex oil and gas fields. Dr. Fisher served as Chair of the Committee on Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Development and Produced Water in the Western United States, a committee of the US National Research Council of the National Academies.