Japan joins ´shale revolution´

Photo from globalscience.ru
Big energy consumer, Japan has uncovered its first domestic shale oil deposits. Bad news for Russia, the second largest exporter of oil to Japan. But experts say industrial production of ‘artificial oil’ from gas is many years off.

Japan Petroleum Exploration Company (Japex) said it managed to extract crude oil from a test sample in a gas field in Akita prefecture.

Up to 100mln barrels of shale oil could be extracted from the deposit, which would be the equivalent of about 10% of Japan’s annual consumption, according to the Japanese news agency NHK.

Despite the current reserves not looking too great, Japanese specialists hope that development of shale oil will promote extraction in other districts.

It is good news for Japan as it could significantly cut its dependence on energy imports. The need for hydrocarbons has become even more pressing after the Fukusima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011. Japan has abandoned the strategy of increasing the share of energy production to 50% nuclear.

For Russia, the news comes as a so – far -quiet alarm bell. Japan is the second largest consumer of Russian oil in Asia, exporting 9.8mln tonnes in 2010.Experts say Japan becoming self sufficient is too distant a prospect. “There is a long period between the stage ofa well site test and industrial development. Even if the tests proved successful, it doesn’t mean the volumes of shale oil extraction will go up in the near future,” Vitaly Kruykov, an analyst from IFD -Kapital, told Business newspaper Vzglyad.

Exploration for shale, or so called ‘artificial’, commodities seems to be turning into a trend.

The US extarcted its first shale gas in 1825, with the country’s specialists expecting a doubling of shale extraction – to 1.12mln barrels in the coming 20 years.

Earlier in the spring Vladimir Putin, who was Prime Minister at the time, urged domestic energy companies to start reacting to the trend. “This, of course, could seriously reshape the commodity markets,” Putin said.