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Russian Bazhenov shale formation

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The Bazhenov Formation or Bazhenov Shale is a stratum in the West Siberian basin. It was formed from sediment deposited in a deep-water sea in Tithonian–early Berriasian time. The sea covered more than one million square kilometers in the central basin area. Highly organic-rich siliceous shales were deposited during this time in anoxic conditions on the sea bottom.[1] The sea was connected to the world's oceans and contains trace minerals derived from dissolved minerals and organic materials similar to sapropel sediments in the Black Sea.[2]

In addition to being a prolific deep water marine source rock (it has been called the world's largest oil source rock) the formation is believed to contain substantial reserves of unconventional liquid hydrocarbons in form of tight oil and solid hydrocarbons in form of kerogen. These deposits occur at depths of 2,500–3,000 metres (8,200–9,800 ft) with the thickness from 10 to 44 metres (33 to 144 ft).[3][4]

An estimate by Wood Mackenzie of the Bazhenov Formation puts oil in place at 2 trillion barrels (3.2×1011 cubic metres).[5] In 2013, the Russian oil company Rosneft estimated recoverable reserves of 22 billion barrels (3.5×109 cubic metres) for the formation.[6] The Russian government agency Rosnedra estimated in 2012 that the Bazhenov contained 180 to 360 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.[7] According to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates published in June 2013, the total Bazhenov shale prospective area has a resource of a risked tight oil in-place of 1,243 billion barrels (1.976×1011 cubic metres) and a risked shale gas in-place of 1,920 trillion cubic feet (54 trillion cubic metres), with 74.6 billion barrels (1.186×1010 cubic metres) of oil and 1,920 trillion cubic feet (54 trillion cubic metres) of gas as the risked, technically recoverable.[8] Total hydrocarbon resources are estimated in 50 to 150 billion tonnes.[3]



Gazprom Neft plans to start commercialy producing shale oil at this basin in 2025. For time being they dont have technology but thanks to relatively high oil price now have money to make reasearch  with accordande Gutkov State Mining University.  The prize will be great because its the biggest single shale formation in the world and according to Gazprom Neft estimates at its peak it can produce about 8 milions barrels per day. For now there is problem with technology = especially with water used in fracking in very low temperatures. Its not a matter of next month or year but at the end of next decade it can produced quite a lot of barrels and its Russia biggest chance to maintain oil production on current peak or even increase it substantially.


Something more about russian research and reserves = interview with Vadim Kasyanov - Rector of the Russian State Geological Survey University named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze - its in russian so I use google translator




MOSCOW, October 2 - PRIME, Alexandra Kryzhanovskaya. Geological exploration of mineral resources is becoming increasingly important every year, since, according to experts, the times are not far off when the world will have to face a shortage of production, including oil, gas and coal. For how many years there will be enough oil and gas reserves in the ground, can natural disasters cause natural disasters, the rector of the Russian State Geological Prospecting University named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze Vadim Kosyanov told in an interview with Prime agency about the prospects of mining in space. 

- Do you have an idea about the degree of exhaustion of mineral resources in the world today and in Russia in particular? 

- This is a question that does not have a definite answer. It is now accepted to say that with the present level of production in the world, the known reserves of basic mineral resources will be enough for 70-140 years. But at the same time, we must understand that, firstly, the geological knowledge of the Earth is heterogeneous, we still do not know many of its riches. Secondly, the emergence of new technologies allows the commissioning of such mineral deposits, which were previously considered non-industrial or conditionally profitable. Third, the transition to a new economic structure in the world leads to tectonic shifts in the consumption of certain mineral resources. Thus, in less than a century, the prevailing share of coal in the world energy balance was replaced by oil and gas, and now we are witnessing an accelerated growth in the so-called "green" energy. 

- When, according to your estimates, can coal, gas, oil, copper and other mineral resources run out? What measures are taken by the geological industry for the reproduction of mineral raw materials?

- At the current level of production, Russia has been provided with active (ready for excavation) oil reserves for 33 years of production, gas for 47 years, coal for 71 years, iron ore for 76 years, gold for 11 years, uranium for 15 years . But that is if nothing is done. Our university is just preparing mining engineers who allow the mining and geological industry to have human resources for the reproduction of the mineral resource base of the country. 

Yes, there was a certain failure in the 1990s – early 2000s in the study of the subsoil, but now the situation is gradually improving. Thus, in 2017, 33.1 billion rubles were allocated from the budget for geological exploration, and private investment reached 340.5 billion rubles, an increase of 17% compared to 2016. That is, 1 ruble invested by the state accounts for 10 rubles of private investment. This is a very good indicator. Of these funds, about 89% is invested in the reproduction of hydrocarbon raw materials, primarily oil and gas.

This allows the reproduction of the mineral resource base of the country for the main types of raw materials with some surplus. Such an increase, of course, will not lead to a revolutionary growth in the extractive industries, but it is capable of providing the world average rates of development of the Russian economy.

- How do you assess the possibility of geological exploration on the Arctic shelf, taking into account the difficult climatic conditions? How many years will it take to prepare for geological exploration on the shelf? 

- It all depends on the economic need, besides, the Arctic is a difficult region. This is due, among other things, to the focal nature of industrial and economic development of the territories and low population density, remoteness from the main industrial centers, low sustainability of ecological systems and their dependence even on minor anthropogenic influences.  

I would call the following main tasks of geology in the Arctic: first, carry out work on the preparation of materials to clarify and substantiate the external border of the Arctic zone of Russia, the second is to ensure a substantial increase in balance reserves of mineral deposits from the Arctic, and ensure environmental safety. 

The Arctic shelf zone of Russia, including the islands, is very poorly studied. According to the Ministry of Environment, for 2016, the undiscovered potential of the Arctic shelf was 91%. 

At the same time, geological exploration within the shelf areas of island structures with potentially large concentrations of ores (polymetals and manganese on Novaya Zemlya, possibly ore gold and tin on the Bolshevik and Bolshoi Lyakhovsky islands), as well as coal reserves (Novosibirsk Islands) is practically not considered due to very conditional profitability of these fields. 

Unfortunately, the current strategy for studying the mineral resource base of Russia does not yet envisage a large-scale development of geological exploration in the Arctic, including on the Arctic shelf.

- Concerning the topic of geo-ecology, how does a university assess the impact of geological exploration and mineral extraction from the earth’s interior on the environment? Can this provoke earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters?

- Of course, the anthropogenic impact of the mining and oil and gas industries is large. For example, a few years ago anomalous outbreaks of cancer were recorded in the city of Stary Oskol, Belgorod Oblast. The surge is huge, why? Perhaps this is due to the mining industry, because iron ore is mined. And at the moment we are engaged in a new methodology for identifying problems associated with subsoil use. But only together - the state, fundamental and sectoral science, subsoil users - should do everything so that the resource support of human life does not turn into a nightmare for nature.

- There are a lot of minerals, including hydrocarbons, at Baikal. How risky is it for the environment to start extracting them?

- Groundwater has a great influence on the feeding of Baikal with water, and any well breaks this balance, and it is extremely difficult to model it. In the case of complex hydrocarbon production, Baikal will start to shallow or the water will become of a different quality. We in Russia have many promising areas in which we can “practice” with a greater degree of probability that we will not damage the ecology and disrupt the natural balance.

But if we are a world power, then why should we exhaust ourselves? Let's mine in Africa, in South America, let's go with mining projects to the World Ocean, as do Western countries, Germany or America. Perhaps we will now also come to the same model. If we move away from the influence of the dollar system and switch to currencies of countries like China, for example, we will be able to influence the markets, and then it will be a truly market economy. Russia has specialists and opportunities in this.

- Does the university plan to take part in the development of space missions to study the depths of other planets? What experiments are already being conducted in space? 

- While fundamental science is developing methods for the extraction of minerals from asteroids. At the moment, hundreds of thousands of asteroids have been discovered in the solar system, their catalog already contains about 700 thousand. The orbits of most, almost half a million, are determined with satisfactory accuracy. These are mainly water and metal, or stone-metal asteroids. There are a lot of minerals in them, but the technologies of their extraction are not yet available. In the medium term, our university does not plan to take part in the preparation of space missions, since there are still many places on Earth that require geological study. But in the long run everything is possible.

In Soviet and post-Soviet times there were developments in which Roscosmos was engaged. However, as a result, budget money was not invested in this, and the subsoil users were very uninteresting. Now everything is resumed, and there is interest in this.

At the academic council, we set before September 1 the task of opening a specialization related to space geology next year. Its main task will be to enable the geologist to describe the geology in some way on the basis of images taken from the International Space Station. However, at the moment there is no talk about any global mining in the space, because such megaprojects require huge costs.

- Is it possible to replace exploration equipment in the Russian Federation in terms of sanctions? Does the university develop any know-how technologies for exploration of mineral resources?

- The question is interesting. Definitely not answer it. If we are talking, for example, about drilling equipment, georadars, geodesic equipment, then we can say that domestic products fully compete with foreign ones, and there is no critical dependence on imports. 

If we are talking about laboratory or seismic equipment, then imported counterparts are significantly ahead of domestic developments and they are more in demand on the market. If we are talking about special software and hardware complexes, marine geophysical and drilling equipment, then Russia's dependence on imports reaches 85-95%.  

When viewed from a business perspective, the purchase of imported equipment turns out to be significantly more budgetary than its development within the country. But the state understands this and is trying to change the situation. There are quite a few examples of government support for promising R & D in the industry. 

Let me give an example of our university: now we are working with Rosgeologia on a project to create an engineering center, which by 2020 will be able to perform applied research in the field of geological exploration.

- Is the current financing for the development of the exploration industry in the Russian Federation sufficient in general?

- A debatable question. As I mentioned in our conversation, this amount of funding is enough to maintain the current level of mining of the main types of minerals in the medium term. However, if we want an economic breakthrough, then the investment in the reproduction of the mineral resource base of the country should be significantly higher.

- Are there enough specialists in this industry in Russia and are foreign colleagues borrowing our experience?

- Domestic universities produce a sufficient number of specialists. Another thing is that the mining and geological enterprises still experience personnel shortages. This is due, in my opinion, to the fact that the geologist's profession is rather difficult, and in the 1990s – 2000s, she lost much of the aura of romanticism that was inherent in her during the Soviet era. We are trying in every way to raise the prestige of the profession, especially now, when the work of mining engineers is adequately paid. 

As for foreigners, I note that our university has traditionally been a lot of foreign citizens. In percentage terms, the number of foreign students ranges from 16-20% of the total number of students. They represent more than fifty countries of the world. Is this not an indicator of a high level of Russian geological education?


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The Chinese are developing their shale exploration equipment and I'm sure they would be willing to share. The Bazhenov, it seems, is not an elephant, but a hundred elephants. Bring more sanctions on.

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