CO2 emissions from Permian shale production

This model disaggregates the CO2 emissions of producing shale oil, across 14 different contributors, aggregating across a dozen different models constructed by Thunder Said Energy: such as materials, drilling, fracturing, supply chain, lifting, processing, methane leaks and flaring.

CO2 intensity can also be flexed by changing different input assumptions, such as methane leakage, flaring activity and well productivity; while we will be happy to share underlying models with you, for further sensitivity analysis.

Our ‘idealized shale’ scenario follows in a separate tab, showing how it could be achievable to make Permian shale production a ‘carbon neutral’ resource.

Mitigating methane: what methods?

This data-file screens the methods available to monitor for methane emissions. Notes and metrics are tabulated for Method 21, Optical Gas Imaging, fixed sensors, ground labs, aircrafts, drones and satellites; including advances at the cutting edge of each method.

Emerging screening methods, such as drones and trucks are also scored, based on results from an excellent recent technical trial. The best drones can detect almost all methane leaks >90% faster than traditional methods.

Companies developing next-generation methane-monitoring technologies are screened, including 12 private companies in growth mode, 8 private companies advancing new technologies and 6 public companies.

US E&Ps turn to ESG?

Of the largest 15 shale E&Ps, the proportion with ESG slides in their quarterly presentations has exploded by 4.5x in the trailing twelve months, from 13% in 3Q18 to 60% in 3Q19.

The progress is tracked in this short data-file, which counts the number of ESG slides published, by company, by quarter; as the industry articulates its carbon credentials in order to help attract capital.

CO2 Intensity of Oilfield Supply Chains

This data-file calculates the CO2 intensity of oilfield supply chains, across ten different resources, as materials are transported to drilling rigs, frac crews, production platforms and well pads.

Different resources can be ranked on this measure of supply chain CO2-intensity: such as  the Permian, the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Norway, Guyana, pre-salt Brazil and Middle East onshore production (chart above).

Underlying the calculations are modeling assumptions, for both onshore and offshore operations, each based on c15 input variables. You can change the inputs to run your own scenarios, or test the most effective ways to lower supply-chain CO2.

Permian CO2 Emissions by Producer

This data-file tabulates Permian CO2 intensity based on regulatory disclosures from 20 of the leading producers to the EPA in 2018. Hence we can  calculate the basin’s upstream emissions, in tons and in kg/boe.

The data are fully disaggregated by company, across the 20 largest Permian E&Ps, Majors and independents; and across 18 different categories, such as combustion, flaring, venting, pneumatics, storage tanks and methane leaks.

A positive is that CO2 intensity is -52% correlated with operator production volumes, which suggests CO2 intensity can be reduced over time, as the industry grows and consolidates into the hands of larger companies.

Oil industry CO2 per barrel?

We have constructed a simple model to estimate the CO2 emissions of commercialising an oil resource, as a function of a dozen input variables: such as flaring, methane leakage, gravity, sulphur content, production processes and transportation to market.

We estimate energy return on energy invested is c7-10x across the entire oil industry, including upstream, midstream and downstream.

Different resources are compared using our methodology. Relative advantages are seen for large, well-managed offshore oilfields and shale. Relative disadvantages are seen for heavy crudes (e.g., Oil Sands, Mexican Heavy) and producers with low regard for flaring and methane emissions (e.g., Iran, Iraq). However, gas production is lower CO2.

Download the model and you can quickly compute approximate CO2 emissions for other resources. We have also published separate data disaggregating refining CO2, gas industry CO2, drilling CO2 and development concept CO2.

US Shale: No Country for Old Completion Designs

2019 has evoked resource fears in shale, after some E&Ps posted disappointing results, and implied productivity data fell 20% YoY,  according to the EIA’s data.

We find the data-issues are benign. They reflect changes to completion design, as a bottlenecked industry increased its use of cube development and flowback control.

Underlying productivity continues improving at a phenomenal pace. These conclusions are derived from reviewing 350 technical papers filed by the shale industry over summer-2019.

Ventures for an Energy Transition?

This database tabulates c200 venture investments made by 8 of the leading Oil Majors, as the energy industry advances and transitions.

The largest portion of activity is still aimed at incubating Upstream technologies (c40% of the investments), as might be expected.

But leading Majors are also building rapid capabilities in new energies (38%) and digital (36%), as the energy system evolves. We are impressed by the opportunities. Venturing is likely the right model to create most value.

The full database shows which topic areas are most actively targeted by venturing; including by company. We also chart which companies have gained stakes in the most interesting start-ups.

US Shale Gas to Liquids?

We have reviewed 42 of Shell’s GTL patent filings for 2018. They show continued progress, innovating new fuels, lubricants, renewable-heavy gasolines, waxes and detergents. Each patent is summarised and categorized in this data-file.

All of this begs the question whether there is a commercial rationale for a US replica of the Pearl GTL project, to handle the over-abundance of gas emanating from the Permian; and produce these advantaged products. It would also help reduce the risk of US LNG projects glutting the market.

We therefore model the economics in this data-file, using prior project disclosures and our learnings from the patent history. Our base case IRR is 15%, taking in 1.6bcfd of shale gas. Resiliency is tested by varying oil and gas prices.

The cutting edge of shale technology?

This data-file reviews 300 technical papers from 2018 and 350 technical papers from 2019. Hence, we can  identify the cutting edge of shale technology. Each paper is summarised, categorized by topic, by country, by basin, by company and by ‘impact’.

The YoY trends in 2019 show an incredible uptick in EOR, machine learning and well spacing studies, which are fully reviewed in the file.

On our assessment, one third of the papers support material improvements in well-productivity.  c98% are data-driven, including c39% using advanced computational modelling and another c20% using data to optimise operations.

The Permian hosted the most research, pulling further ahead of other basins. You may be surprised by the identities of the companies publishing the most technical papers in shale.