US to Help Armenia Explore New Energy Resources

US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch with Armenia’s Energy Minister Armen Movisisian (Photolur)

US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch with Armenia’s Energy Minister Armen Movisisian (Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The US government pledged on Thursday to help Armenia explore and possibly develop its potential deposits of shale gas, a new and increasingly important source of energy in the United States.

The outgoing U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch signed a relevant “memorandum of understanding” with Armenian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisian.

The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said the document envisages a “cooperative assessment and technical studies of Armenia’s energy resources, including any potential shale gas resources.” In a written statement, it said this will be jointly done by Movsisian’s ministry and the U.S. Geological Survey, a government agency.

A separate statement issued by the ministry clarified that the two sides will not only explore Armenia’s “unconventional” energy resources but also gauge the feasibility of their commercial exploitation and, if necessary, devise “investment projects.” Natural gas would be produced from Armenian shale deposits through “use of the best technologies harmless to environment,” it said.

The statement added that the agreement stems from an international conference on shale gas that was hosted by the U.S. State Department last August. It said U.S. officials offered exploration grants to government representatives from Armenia and about two dozen other countries that attended the three-day forum.

“The organizers … noted the readiness of the U.S. government and companies to make investments in those countries,” revealed the statement. It said the Armenian participants presented “brief information” about the availability of shale and other energy resources in their country.

“In the Republic of Armenia, there are a number of shale fossil deposits from which one can extract not only gas but also shale oil, which is very similar to crude oil in terms of its characteristics,” said the Armenian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

Neither the ministry, nor the U.S. Embassy specified the amount of financial assistance which Washington will spend on shale gas exploration in Armenia. Nor did they mention any time frames for the planned work.

Over the past decade, shale has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the U.S. Shale gas industries have also emerged in Europe and China.

The world’s vast reserves of the sedimentary rock have led some analysts to suggest that shale gas will eventually become a real alternative to depleting energy resources such as conventional gas and oil.


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  1. k.haroutounian said:

    Hope Armenian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisian.has deen this article.
    Drilling at the UK’s first shale gas site is suspended after a magnitude 1.5 earthquake near Blackpool, the second in the area since April.

    It has been revealed that the earthquake occurred on 10 May and its epicentre was recorded by the British Geological Survey (BGS) as being within a mile of where the gas drilling is taking place.

    The company leading the drilling, Cuadrilla Resources, uses a process called “fracking” to fracture rock deep in the earth with a high pressure jet of water to release shale gas.

    There was another quake – this time 2.3 in magnitude – near the drilling location at Preese Hall on 1 April.
    The BGS says it cannot confirm that the two quakes are related, but does point to the fact that any process that injects water into rocks to fracture them can cause earthquakes.

    It said in a statement: “It is well known that injection of water or other fluids during the oil extraction and geothermal engineering processes – such as with shale gas exploration – can result in earthquake activity.”

    Cuadrilla has confirmed that it has stopped its fracking operations while it studies the geological data.

    Mark Miller, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources, said: “We take our responsibilities very seriously and that is why we have stopped fracking operations to share information and consult with the relevant authorities and other experts.

    “We expect that this analysis and subsequent consultation will take a number of weeks to conclude and we will decide on appropriate actions after that.”
    The shale gas extraction process has already changed the dynamics of America’s gas market – removing its dependency on imports and almost achieving a position of self-sufficiency.

    However, the process has attracted criticism after claims in the US that chemical compounds have polluted water supplies and that the gas has bubbled into drinking water. In some cases, people were able to set light to water coming out of their taps.

    Only a few weeks ago France announced it was going to ban the process of fracking – becoming the first country to do so – citing environmental concerns.