The development of unconventional oil and gas resources is gaining momentum across the world, with China and Australia becoming two of the most important emerging markets for shale and Coal Bed Methane (CBM) exploration, says GlobalData.

According to the company’s latest report, China has approximately 643 billion barrels (bbl) of risked, prospective shale oil and 4,746 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of risked shale gas in-place – of which around 32 billion bbl and 1,115 tcf are estimated to be technically recoverable.

Australia, meanwhile, is also witnessing a substantial development of CBM and shale gas resources, according to GlobalData. The country already has a well-developed CBM industry, which would support a number of planned LNG export projects.

Joseph Gatdula, GlobalData’s Senior Upstream Analyst, said, “China is aiming to develop its shale oil and gas and CBM resources rapidly, in order to meet increasing demand for these products. However, a fast commercialisation of China’s shale resources could be difficult, because of the country’s shale geology, its nascent horizontal drilling and fracturing services industry, and water scarcity.”


The development of shale business is likely to be particularly pertinent to industrial gas companies operating in Australia; the most important end-use sectors from the point of view of industrial gas sales are the metallurgical and refining & energy sectors, cumulatively these accounted for almost half of all revenues in 2012.

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In recent times, says a gasworld Business Intelligence report on the country, the industrial gas sector has been more than capable of growing at a significantly faster rate than the economy at large. With the likely proliferation of shale gas and oil activity, this capability could be enhanced.

As investment in mining slows, this is likely to be counterbalanced by a steady strengthening of the country’s non-mining industries, which will be spurred on by improved levels of confidence, a favourable exchange rate, and an expansionary monetary policy.

Other countries, such as Argentina, Poland, Canada and Venezuela, have also been increasing investment in their shale gas resources, says GlobalData.

According to the firm, Poland possesses an estimated 1.8 billion bbl of shale oil and 146 tcf of shale gas resources, while Argentina’s estimated technically recoverable shale resources amount to 27 billion bbl oil and 802 tcf of gas.