The growth in shale gas production in recent years is one of the most dynamic stories in U.S. energy markets. A few years ago, most analysts foresaw a growing U.S. reliance on imported sources of natural gas, and significant investments were being made in regasification facilities for imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Today, the biggest questions are the size of the shale gas resource base (which by most estimates is vast), the price level required to sustain its development, and whether there are technical or environmental factors that might dampen its development. Beyond those questions, the level of future domestic natural gas production will also depend on the level of natural gas demand in key consuming sectors, which will be shaped by prices, economic growth, and policies affecting fuel choice.
The EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2010 predicts that total domestic natural gas production will grow from 20.6 trillion cubic feet in 2008 to 23.3 trillion cubic feet in 2035. With technology improvements and rising natural gas prices, natural gas production from shale formations is predicted to grow to 6 trillion cubic feet in 2035, more than offsetting declines in other production. In 2035, shale gas is estimated to provide 24 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States, up from just 6 percent in 2008.
Since the first commercial well was drilled in New York in the late 1820's. Shale gas exploration and exploitation has continued to grow aided by tax incentives in the 1980's. These incentives have expired, but operators have continued to expand gas shale programs.
The most significant trend in U.S. natural gas production is the rapid rise in production from shale formations. In large measure this is attributable to significant advances in the use of horizontal drilling and well stimulation technologies and refinement in the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. Hydraulic fracturing is the most significant of these.
This report examines the shale gas market, its history, and potential, the technology behind the production of shale gas, and the trends and opportunities present in this industry in the next 20 years.
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Publication Date: July 2010
Publisher: Energy Business Reports