Contributions of individual preproduction activities to overall energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during shale gas development are not well understood nor quantified. This paper uses predictive modeling combining the physics of reservoir development operations with depositional attributes of shale gas basins to account for energy requirements and GHG emissions during shale gas well development. We focus on shale gas development from the Montney basin in Canada and account for the energy use during drilling and fluid pumping for reservoir stimulation, in addition to preproduction emissions arising from energy use and potential gas releases during operations. Detailed modeling of activities and events that take place during each stage of development is described. Relative to the hydraulic fracturing activity, we observe significantly higher energy intensity for the well drilling and mud circulation activities. Well completion flowback gas is found to be the predominant potential source of GHG emission. When these results are expressed on an annual basis, consistent with the convention of most climate policy goals and directives, environmental impacts of our growing natural gas economy are better appreciated. Estimated likely GHG emission from new development wells in 2017 in the Montney Formation alone is 2.68 Mt CO2e. However, on a preproduction requirements basis and dependent on mean estimated ultimate recovery (EUR), energy return on invested energy for shale gas from the Montney Formation in Canada is estimated to be about 3400. The approach described here can be reliably extended to areas, globally, where natural gas development is becoming prominent.

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