Paris Basin Shale Oil Could have more recoverable oil than the Bakken oil field

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The Paris Basin has an area of ~170,000 km2, encompasses most of the northern half of France and extends into Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.

IHS has identified three possible unconventional hydrocarbon plays in the Paris Basin, France:

the Lias Shale oil play, the Permo-Carboniferous Shale gas play, and the Upper Carboniferous coalbed methane play. Analysis based on IHS proprietary data and public sources indicates the presence of a thick sequence of Palaeozoic sediments. We have constructed a preliminary stratigraphic succession of the Palaeozoic sediments and mapped their distribution, which could help in exploration of the Palaeozoic reservoirs as an extension of known conventional petroleum systems. Our analysis of the Paris Basin indicates that the basin still holds good hydrocarbon potential, both for conventional and unconventional plays, and merits a new phase of exploration, especially considering its excellent infrastructure and recent advances in technology.

Estimates range from just a few to many tens of billions of barrels of oil in the Paris Basin. Much like the North American shale plays, these formations have been drilled through many times – there are over 1,000 wells drilled into the Basin – so exploration risk is low. It’s completion risk – how to best unlock the oil from the rock – that is the main risk.

Activity by explorers in this part of France has been growing, and is now hitting a fever pitch. A huge land race is underway, with applications for more than 1.6 million acres pending approval for several companies, including Toreador Resources (TRGL-NASD)* in the US, Vermillion Energy (VET.UN-TSX) and Realm Energy (RLM-TSXv) in Canada.

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