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Unconventional resource development: If, where and how fast?

Accenture reviews nine basins against eight critical factors.


Unconventional resources—specifically shale gas, tight gas, shale oil and tight oil—have revolutionized the energy landscape in the United States, using new technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to access previously unavailable reserves. America’s success with unconventional resources has prompted many to consider whether other countries that show similar promise will also be successful in developing their unconventional resources—and if so, where and how fast.




We compare the potential of nine basins around the world using eight critical factors:

  • Size of potential resources

  • Enabling fiscal regime

  • Geology

  • Land access and operability

  • Unconventional services sector

  • Oil and gas distribution network

  • Competition from conventionals or other competing resources

  • Skilled workforce.

Key Findings

In terms of the overall outlook for international shale resource development, we anticipate that:

  • Shale gas and tight oil resources outside of the US and Canada will take between five and ten years to develop, given the eight factors examined

  • All eight factors need to amenable to successful development, and issues in any single factor can delay or even prevent development

  • Regulators need to support the progression of all eight factors, not just the local fiscal regimes

  • Markets with tight oil (like Argentina) have a higher likelihood of developing unconventional resources operations in the current environment

  • In many markets, eg. China and Poland, the effort to adapt technologies to local characteristics can be significant

  • Although Argentina is the most promising market today, this may change depending on how other markets address the eight factors; for example, Australia, the UK and Saudi Arabia could all advance quickly.