Overview: The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources (State/ENR) launched the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (UGTEP) in April 2010 in order to help countries seeking to utilize their unconventional natural gas resources – shale gas, tight gas and coal bed methane – to identify and develop them safely and economically. Shale gas is one of the most rapidly expanding trends in onshore U.S. oil and gas exploration and production. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), during the last decade, U.S. shale gas production has increased fourteen-fold; it now accounts for 30% of U.S. gas production and 32% of total remaining recoverable gas resources in the United States. By 2030, EIA projects that shale gas will represent 14% of total global gas supplies, providing the reserve base necessary for expanded consumption in a business as usual scenario. Future climate policies could increase demand for unconventional gas since it is a lower-carbon “bridge fuel” to reduce CO2 emissions. Although the U.S. shale gas experience cannot be precisely duplicated, its application through UGTEP can be instrumental in helping governments understand the complexities of shale gas development. Governments often have limited capability to assess their own country’s unconventional gas resource potential or are unclear about how to develop it in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner through establishing the right regulatory policy and fiscal structures. The ultimate goals of UGTEP are to achieve greater energy security by supporting the development of environmentally and commercially sustainable frameworks.
Country Participation: Countries have been selected to participate in UGTEP based in part on the known presence of natural gas-bearing shale within their borders, market potential, business climates, geopolitical synergies and host government interest. To date, bilateral and multilateral UGTEP engagement has included Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Botswana and number of other countries, including under IEA, APEC and ASEAN umbrellas.
Government-to-Government: UGTEP uses government-to-government policy engagement to bring the U.S. federal and state governments’ technical expertise, regulatory experience and diplomatic capabilities to help selected countries understand their shale gas potential. U.S. Government agencies that partner with State/ENR under UGTEP include: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE); the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE). A benefit of this government-to-government cooperation is the potential for establishing and strengthening long-term working relationships at the technical and ministerial levels.
Sample Activities: UGTEP activities are tailored to each country’s specific needs and availability of funding. Examples of UGTEP activities in priority countries include: shale gas resource assessments; technical guidance to evaluate the production capability, economics and investment potential of shale gas resources; workshops and seminars on technical, environmental, business and regulatory challenges related to shale gas development; and in-country advisor support on regulatory, fiscal and policy development.