In a further expansion of Morocco’s domestic energy efforts, Ireland’s Circle Oil announced late last week that gas had begun flowing from its first shale well.According to a UPI report, the company announced that it had reached a stabilized flow rate of 1.9 million cubic feet per day at a well in the Lalla Mimouna onshore permit area.“We are delighted that our first well on the Lalla Mimouna block has such positive results, flowing gas at significant rates,” Circle Chief Executive Officer Mitch Flegg said, according to UPI. “The productivity of this first well is very encouraging for the expansion of Circle’s portfolio of Morocco gas fields.”The shale development continues Morocco’s multi-year push towards broadening their energy base. The North African country currently depends on costly imports for virtually all of its oil and gas needs. Over the last five years, Morocco has initiated a series of new energy development projects, including both traditional hydrocarbon development and renewables, which Rabat hopes will someday provide a much larger share of the country’s energy mix.Late last year, it was reported that after modest interest for much of the last decade, a number of larger oil and gas firms have arrived in Morocco in pursuit of the country’s mainly offshore potential. Joining smaller operators like San Leon Energy and Longreach Oil and Gas, energy majors have begun targeting the country’s potential reserves with more than 10 wells planned over the next year, according to a Bloomberg report – more than twice what the country has seen over the last ten years. Since January, BP, Chevron and Cairn have all announced new projects or buy-ins to existing efforts, despite the country’s lackluster history of viable oil and gas discoveries.However, as welcome as the shale news may be, the country could face substantial challenges ahead if it plans on building on its shale potential, especially in such an arid country. These obstacles include including significant logistical hurdles, including costly infrastructure, a dearth of local expertise and available water resources. Citing a recent report by the World Resources Institute, Vox recently pointed out that an average shale well can use anywhere from 2 to 7 million gallons of water during its lifetime. Complicating the situation further, water used in shale extraction is chemically treated, making what water that emerges from the well essentially unusable for other purposes.Recently, concerns about the impact of shale excavation led to widespread protests in Algeria, which has bet heavily on its shale potential for long term, energy sector growth. In some cases, these protests have led to delays and broader political actions.