Global Processing

Reliance to Pay Atlas $1.7 Billion for Marcellus Stake

April 12, 2010
Indian energy giant Reliance Industries will pay $1.7 billion to form a joint venture at one of the most promising natural gas deposit regions in the U.S. with Atlas Energy reported by Reuters. Reliance, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, will pick up a 40 percent stake in Atlas''s operations in the booming Marcellus Shale -- a gas project that spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York in the United States and which, according to some geologists, could hold enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for a decade. With this move it joins a number of international oil companies including BP Plc, Total, Statoil and Mitsui & Co who have bought into shales, rock formations that could hold vast amounts of natural gas. While the shale formations have proven to be lucrative, they are also very expensive to develop and environmentally sensitive. The joint ventures have given the independent oil companies who own much of the acreage in these areas access to capital and should allow foreign oil companies to pick up expertise in new drilling techniques developed for the shales. Debate over drilling in the region has sharpened in recent months. Environmentalists claim the drilling fluids needed to crack the rock and free the gas can contaminate drinking water, an assertion the industry hotly disputes.