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Will the Next Shale Boom Be in North Africa?


We’re used to North Africa being a source of grim news: the war-that-isn’t-a-war rolls on, armed protestors in Libya have stalled the country’s oil exports, and Egypt is locked into an economic death spiral after this summer’s coup-that-wasn’t-a-coup. But there is one bright spot: a geological director for the Spanish oil and gas company Repsol sees North Africa as “the next big opportunity” for shale energy. Bloomberg reports:

Algeria’s oil and gas output should double in seven to 10 years as it brings on stream fields in under-explored regions and develops reserves of shale and tight gas, Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said Oct. 1. Africa’s largest gas producer, Algeria this year decided to ease fiscal terms to attract investments in remote and unconventional deposits. Repsol, based in Madrid, is developing three areas in the country, according to the company’s website.

In neighboring Libya, the state-run National Oil Corp. said on Sept. 11 it may invite specialized companies to assess the country’s shale oil and gas reserves and make provisions for their extraction in a petroleum law being drafted.

There’s a lot of oil and gas trapped in shale formations across North Africa. Libya has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of shale oil, and Algeria has the third-largest shale gas reserves. Billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas are waiting to be fracked.

The region’s increased oil and gas potential is real. But keep in mind: the American shale revolution will be difficult to export.

[Oil rig image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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