Oil and Gas Engineering Challenges in the Niobrara Shale

land surveying servicesThe oil and gas development opportunities being explored in the Niobrara Shale area are numerous and have presented the region as a prospectively lucrative venture for many energy companies. However, this has also lead to a number of challenges for oil and gas engineering firms.

Niobrara Shale and the Recent Boom

The Niobrara Shale is attracting large investments from companies in the energy and oil and gas development sector, due to its oil rich and easy to drill stratum. An amount of $4 billion was invested by some of the top companies in the sector during 2013, with plans to pursue drilling activities in 2014 as well.

  • Drilling sites: The 4 major enterprises operating in Niobrara have identified around 15,000 potential drilling sites within the location, targetting the huge amount of oil and gas reserves that the area possesses. Moreover, smaller companies have outlined 5,000 other locations which are prospective spots for oil and gas drilling in Niobrara shale.
  • Increase in rig sites: The North American Rig Count has estimated a 50% increase in the number of oil rigs within the area, only within the past 22 months. The alluring prospects presented by Niobrara Shale has given rise to the amount of investment done by energy sector companies, with around $1 billion already spent on the rail terminals, pipelines and plants, for the processing and shipping of oil.
  • Economic boom: The investment activities in the region have resulted in an economic boom in the area, the effects of which are easily discernible all across the Front Range. Many energy investment companies are still evaluating the true potential of Niobrara, and regard it as a highly lucrative region for exploring and discovering oil and gas development opportunities.
  • Rising demand for drill permits: Statistics show that in the latter part of 2013, there were around 1000 drilling permits which were issued in the Niobrara Shale basin, whereas 250 were still pending. This is evidence of the vast drilling and exploration opportunities being offered by the region for oil and gas development.

Niobrara is included in the list of different shales within the country, which have increased the domestic output of the state to exceed their oil imports, since 1995.

Challenges by Oil and Gas Engineering Firms Faced With Developing the Area

Though Niobrara Shale is rapidly being recognized as an abundant resource of oil and gas reserves in the industry, there are still a number of challenges in its path towards success. These include:

  • Land surveying: Finding quality land surveyors is a major challenge for companies in the energy sector who want to explore the resource potential offered by Niobrara. There are quite a number of land survey companies, but they sometimes lack the appropriate team size and a mobile professional group of professionals, to competently handle large exploration projects, which are major challenges and a cause for delays.
  • Political and community resistance: Many political segments and community associations are resistant to the extent of development change which is fast penetrating into the suburbs of the Niobrara basin, which is one of the major challenges to the development endeavors in the area.
  • Technological expertise: Not many service providers have technological expertise to make use of the instrumentation and software, like GIS mapping, cloud based data sharing, high definition scanning, and many other important services.
  • Permit  issuance: In order to pursue development projects within the area, permits are a necessity, and due to the rising demand, the process has become time consuming, making it difficult for investment companies to explore and develop Niobrara.

In Niobrara, land surveying and exploration is critical to the development of the area. If you are seeking an oil and gas engineering firm, then get a no obligation quote from Landpoint.

Image by : USFWS Mountain-Prairie