Fracking Europe – Spanish Edition

Joining similar efforts to the south, Spain’s Basque Country region have announced an investment partnership with European and U.S. companies to help explore the area’s shale potential over the coming year.

Following the positive results of fourteen test wells drilled in the region, the Basque president announced a plan to initiate a series of exploratory wells in the region meant to help the region access an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of free and absorbed gas; enough to supply the country with reserves for five years or the Basque region for 60 years. Funded by an initial $100 million investment, the project will be split between three significant actors, including Basque Energy with 42.8 percent, Texas’ Heyco with 21.8 percent and Cambria Europe with the remaining 35.4 percent.

Planned for 2012, the two appraisal wells will reach upwards of 15,000 ft into the dense Cretaceous Valmaseda formation, which presents a favorable consistency of shale and dense sand for the necessary hydraulic fracturing process.

Touted as a tool for greater energy independence and sustainability both locally and nationally, the Basque shale project is the second of its kind in Spain, joining California’s BNK who launched their respective effort in the Castille and Leon region earlier this year. BNK took on 234,000 acres in the central region, with the agreement that they will conduct a geological analysis during the first year and drill two wells in year two, three and four, with three wells promised for year five. The acquisition builds on earlier investments in the region including 61,470 acres in the Northern Spanish region of Cantabria.

Although shale projects and the necessary hydraulic fracturing have elicited government and public protests as the practice spreads across Europe, these worries have not manifested themselves in any significant way in Spain. Facing a precarious economic landscape and heavy dependence on foreign energy resources, novel and unconventional approaches to energy generation have been welcome in the Southern European country, especially as alternative resources have suffered as a result of cuts in research spending and subsidies.

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