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Australia Shale Oil Discovery Continues the Country's "Lucky" Streak

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Investors are well aware of the shale oil revolution in the United States. But the “revolution” does not end here; it is spreading globally to countries as diverse as China and Poland.

There is one country in particular though that may experience circumstances similar to the United States, if not greater.

I’m talking about Australia, which has often been called “The Lucky Country.” That description was first penned in 1964 by Donald Horne and he actually meant it negatively at the time.

But in recent decades, the term has been given a positive spin thanks to Australia’s abundance of natural resources and its geographical location near the world’s biggest consumer of commodities – China.

And Australia may have struck luck again thanks to the recent announcement of a massive shale oil discovery.

Australia Oil and Gas Discoveries

Australia has already been in the forefront of new oil and gas production, used to feed the hungry Chinese dragon next door.

The country is scheduled to, within several years, surpass Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). That is largely thanks to massive quantities of natural gas found off its northwest shores in the Browse Basin and elsewhere.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE ADR: RDS.A) has actually ordered the building of a $10 billion vessel to be used as a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) terminal. The vessel is intended to spend most of its time above Prelude, a natural gas field about 120 miles off Australia’s coast.

It will be the world’s largest offshore facility and is expected to be operational in 2016. It will weigh 600,000 tons, be six times bigger than the largest aircraft carrier (534 yards long and 81 yards wide), and be anchored by an 11,500 ton turret.   

But that’s offshore. The excitement is now building for onshore oil and gas in Australia.

The Nascent Australia Shale Oil Industry

Prior to the recent discovery in Australia, the U.S. Energy Information Agency had estimated that Australia already held the fifth-biggest shale gas reserves in the world. Geoscience Australia, the country’s geological agency, believes there is at least 400 trillion cubic feet of shale reserves as well as 20 trillion cubic feet of “tight gas.’

No wonder some of the world’s oil majors are rushing in.

France’s Total S.A. (NYSE ADR: TOT) recently announced plans of up to a $200 million investment into shale assets in central Australia. Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) also is investing into Australia’s emerging shale industry. It is paying up to $350 million for stakes in two shale projects.

February also saw a deal between China’s PetroChina Company Ltd. (NYSE ADR: PTR) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) to search for shale gas in western Australia. 

It is estimated that more than $1 billion will be spent drilling and exploring Australia’s shale reserves over the next couple of years. 

The Latest Major Australia Shale Oil Discovery

That does not include the exploration in the region of the latest discovery. That discovery occurred in an area of the country called the Arckaringa Basin around the town of Coober Pedy.

Money Morning’s Global Energy Strategist, Dr. Kent Moors, says that the discovery “could be the largest shale oil find ever recorded.”

It could contain as much as 233 billion barrels (or $20 trillion worth) of recoverable shale oil!

To put that into perspective, the 233 billion barrels is a mere 30 billion barrels shy of the estimated reserves of Saudi Arabia. It is also bigger than the Athabasca oilsands in Canada, which are estimated to hold about 170 billion barrels of proven or probable reserves.

For investors, the real investment play here is with the companies coming in to provide the essential working capital for field development and to provide the essential field services to pull it all off.

You can learn more about this exciting new find – and its investment opportunities – in our new report on this massive Australian shale oil discovery.

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