Unconventional gas

Our approach to unconventional gas brings together 50 years of technical expertise and experience

Sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

Loading video

please wait...

Combining technologies and expertise to unlock unconventional resources around the world

‘Unconventional gas’ is a term used to describe a variety of gas resources that cannot easily be produced using standard drilling technology. ‘Tight gas’ is difficult to produce because it is found in sandstone rocks with low permeability. ‘Shale gas’ is natural gas trapped in shale deposits – rock made from thin layers of fine grain sediment. And ‘coal bed methane’ is natural gas found in coal seams.
In the past, these unconventional energy sources have been unrecoverable for technical or commercial reasons. But the potential prize is huge for those able to find a way to access them.

Unlocking unconventional gas

Our Unconventional Gas technology flagship brings together BP’s 50 years of technical expertise and experience in conventional gas resources with innovative technology.

We are focusing on developing and delivering a fully integrated range of seismic, drilling and recovery technologies to make the giant gas fields we operate as productive and commercial as possible.

For example, our innovative land seismic surveys are helping us to find tight gas in complex rock formations, drastically reducing the number of wells that are needed to access them.
Using another technology, called horizontal drilling, we can also expose larger sections of the reservoir to the well bore to help increase flow rates. BP has deployed horizontal drilling extensively in onshore USA, Oman, Algeria and Canada. This experience is being directly applied to similar reservoirs such as the Risha field in Jordan and the Al Bourarhat field in Algeria.
We are also breaking new ground with technologies that have been used for 50 years to maximize recovery rates from a reservoir. Hydraulic fracturing or 'fracing' techniques involve pumping fluids under high pressure into the reservoir to fracture the rocks and release the gas that would not otherwise be accessible.

Building on our experience in the USA, we recently carried out the first successful high-rate water ‘frac’ in the Miqrat formation in Oman, where 1 million barrels of water were pumped at 80 barrels a minute.

Key facts

  • 50% of BP's natural gas production uses hydraulic fracturing techniques
  • 30-40% increase in production from wells in the Wamsutter field in the USA using BP's tight gas technologies
  • 8 x increase in recovery factor in Canada using horizontal drilling and open hole fracturing
BP recognizes the concerns of stakeholders about the potential environmental impact of this technology, and is committed to responsible well design and construction, surface operations and fluid handling.

The impact of these unconventional gas technologies in the USA, over the last decade has been phenomenal, transforming the world’s energy landscape.

Related content