Shale Goes Global
Can the West Keep Fracking Technology from Russia?
show comments
  • “So how likely is it that we might keep Western fracking and horizontal well drilling technologies from Russia?”

    It is only possible to keep Russia from importing the latest in these technologies, the cutting edge that makes shale oil production not merely viable but increasingly efficient (although it could be too late). Also, I agree that “the country has “zero chance” of exploiting deep-water reserves without Western help”.

    Russian oil and oilfield service companies are already drilling horizontals and performing multistage fracs. Horizontal wells currently account for 30% of onshore drilling footage, although their horizontal sections are much shorter than is typical of shale wells. Likewise, Russia has been fracking aggressively since the 1990s, although multistage fracs are still relatively new (but growing fast).

    However – a major caveat – most of this drilling and fracking is targeting non-shale reservoirs. It is merely a means of boosting flow rates both for new and old wells. US and Canadian onshore producers had been doing the same for decades before the shale boom. The shale revolution happened, roughly speaking, when oil companies learned to drill very long horizontal sections with phenomenal precision.

    Russian companies will probably master this art with or without Western aid because technology transfer has been steadily happening since the 1990s and Russian oil companies are not nearly as backward as they were back then. Think of BP’s contribution to TNK-BP, now part of Rosneft – not merely technology but training adequately qualified Russian engineers and geologists. Same goes for Schlumberger and Halliburton, both active in Russia since the 1990s.

    Sanctions may slow down Russia’s progress, however. In fact, it is unclear whether – even with Western assistance – full-scale commercial production from Russian shales will be possible within 5-10 years, since Russian shales are not exactly equivalent to Bakken in terms of geology.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Please, you are assuming that these corporations aren’t going to milk this situation for all the profit they can. They’re Capitalists, their proprietary fracking and horizontal drilling knowledge is going to be sold for all the market will bear (LOL bear Russian Bear get it? LOL). In addition these corporations are fully aware of the kleptocratic nature of the Russians and other nations, and are sure to protect themselves from exploitation. I don’t expect large investments from these companies when the returns are so much greater and safer in the US and other Western nations. So the Russians and others will be made to pay through the nose up front for any western development of their shale oil resources.

  • Andrew Allison


  • lukelea

    “So how likely is it that we might keep Western fracking and horizontal well drilling technologies from Russia as a form of energy sanctions”

    In the long-term? Practically zero.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.