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Spain Gas Resources Estimated at 70 Years Domestic Demand

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March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Spain, which imports about 99 percent of its natural gas, has enough prospective resources of the fuel to satisfy current demand for 70 years if shale is developed, according to a trade group for oil and gas companies.

In what it called the most comprehensive study to date, the association said today in Madrid that preliminary estimates show about 80 percent of that gas can be found in shale rock. A total of 2.05 trillion cubic meters are discoverable and could be pumped commercially at a value of about 700 million euros ($900 million) based on current market prices, according to the Spanish Association of Companies in Investigation, Exploration & Production of Hydrocarbons and Underground Storage.

International oil and gas companies such as Canada’s BNK Petroleum Inc. are seeking to produce the commodity in three regions of Spain, primarily by using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. They’re promoting shale gas development as a way to cut Spain’s dependence on imports and lower local prices.

“We have potentially spectacular resources,” said Juan Carlos Munoz-Conde, the trade group’s vice president and a BNK civil engineer. Fracking is a “safe and thoroughly proven” technology, he said at a briefing for journalists that was targeted by anti-fracking protesters outside.

About 27 investigation permits were requested in 2012 and 19 were granted, most seeking to produce gas using fracking, according to a report from Spain’s Council of Mining Engineers.

“We will chase opportunities to extract oil and gas without remorse as long as they comply with environmental restrictions,” Industry Ministry Jose Manuel Soria said at a briefing Feb. 14 at the IESE business school in Madrid.

Basque Region Rich

The most advanced shale-gas exploration projects are located in the Basque-Cantabrian basin in the north of Spain and benefit from proximity to water sources, Angel Camara, a chemical engineering and fuels professor and co-writer of a study by Spain’s Council of Mining Engineers study, said on March 11.

Spain is the most arid country in the European Union, according to the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme. A typical shale gas well will use as much as 30,000 cubic meters of water, though some of it can later be treated and reused, according to data from Shale Gas Espana, an industry-backed forum.

Prospective resources represent energy sources that haven’t yet been discovered, or proven to be reserves. In Poland, one of the European nations most advanced in shale exploration, there’s an estimated 768 billion cubic meters of recoverable shale gas reserves, the Warsaw-based Geological Institute said in 2012.

BNK along with R2 Energy Inc., Hidrocarburos de Euskadi SA, Heyco Energy Group and San Leon Energy Plc sponsor Shale Gas Espana and are some of the companies with granted or requested permits to produce shale gas.

The explorers trade group includes among its members Repsol SA and Cairn Energy Plc of the U.K.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Laya in Madrid at playa2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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