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Australia’s Shale-Gas Industry Trails U.S. by a Decade, UBS Says

Australia, facing higher costs and lacking the latest drilling technology, lags behind the U.S. by at least a decade in developing its shale-gas resources, according to UBS AG.

“We see a number of technical and logistical factors that imply developing unconventional shale-gas plays will prove to be a much bigger challenge in Australia,” Gordon Ramsay and Cameron Hardie, Melbourne-based analysts at UBS, wrote in a report dated Jan. 9.

Santos Ltd., Beach Energy Ltd., Senex Energy Ltd. and AWE Ltd. are among explorers with shale-gas projects in Australia. With almost 400 trillion cubic feet of estimated shale gas that may be recoverable, Australia has “major” potential in four areas, including the Cooper Basin in the center of the country, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in April.

In the U.S., shale-gas mergers and acquisitions are set to accelerate in 2012 following BHP Billiton Ltd.’s agreement to buy Petrohawk Energy Corp. and its purchase of shale assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. last year, the report said. Advances in technology have unlocked “massive” resource potential in North America, while international oil companies need to “redeploy vast cash flows,” UBS said.

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