Shell Says Shale Oil Reserves “Difficult to Find and Develop”

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Here’s an interesting tidbit from today’s Wall Street Journal:

Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Thursday posted a 60% drop in second-quarter profit, largely because the oil and natural-gas giant wrote down the value of its North American shale assets by more than $2 billion after tax, highlighting the difficulties that energy companies face in finding new oil they can pump at a profit.

….Shell cited disappointing drilling results at its North American shale assets, which it said turned out to contain less oil than it had hoped. Even excluding the charge on those assets, Shell’s earnings fell well short of analysts’ expectations as the company struggled with production declines and rising costs.

I wouldn’t make too much of a single report like this, but it does fall in line with other evidence suggesting that although North America has a lot of shale oil, it probably doesn’t have quite the gargantuan quantities that some people think. What’s more, the shale oil we do have has turned out to be fairly expensive to get at. Plus shale oil deposits tend to deplete rapidly. Bottom line: don’t get too caught up in the shale oil hype.

POSTSCRIPT: Keep in mind that we’re only talking about oil here. Natural gas fracking from shale is a different story. There’s probably some hype there too, but it’s of a different kind.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.