Shale Gas       

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Information @ a Glance

  • Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations.
  • Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.
  • Over the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has allowed access to large volumes of shale gas that were previously uneconomical to produce.
  • The production of natural gas from shale formations has rejuvenated the natural gas industry in the United States.
  • The shale acts as both the source and the reservoir for the natural gas.
  • Older shale gas wells were vertical while more recent wells are primarily horizontal and need artificial stimulation, like hydraulic fracturing, to produce.
  • Only shale formations with certain characteristics will produce gas.
  • The most significant trend in US 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.
  • Production of shale gas is expected to increase from a 2007 US total of 1.4 Tcf to 4.8 Tcf in 2020. The DOE report states that shale gas production potential of 3 to 4 Tcf per year may be sustainable for decades.
  • In November 2008, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) published a report, "Availability, Economics and Production Potential of North American Unconventional Natural Gas Supplies," that included an updated resource base for natural gas in the United States and Canada.
  • The INGAA study states that the assessment of shale gas potential in the United States and Canada is a work in progress and there is a long way to go to understand remaining potential and implications for future natural gas production.

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