Unconventional Gas

Authored by: Jim Underschultz

Sustainability in the Mineral and Energy Sectors

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498733021
eBook ISBN: 9781315369853
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite the commonly used term ‘unconventional gas’, the gas itself is not unconventional but rather methane and other hydrocarbon compounds, the same as are found in conventional reservoirs. The gas is however trapped in an unconventional manner such as by capillarity or adsorption where the gas occurs as a continuous phase over large areas independent of trap geometry. There are a number of categories of unconventional gas we consider, including coal bed methane, shale gas, tight gas, basin-centred gas and gas hydrates. Initially, the commercial development of unconventional gas was motivated by a desire to improve the safety of coal mining through degassing, coupled with the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil crisis of the mid-1970s raising concerns of energy security. This drove the U.S. government to provide tax incentives and invest in the adaptation of horizontal drilling technology and micro-seismic monitoring that ultimately unlocked the shale gas potential in North America.

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