The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Shale Natural Gas and Oil: Moving and Shaking the Energy Field

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 3, 2013

Kevin Bullis, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for energy, has a piece noting that the most significant advances in the energy field the past year resulted from surging natural gas and oil production from shale via hydraulic fracturing – an impact Bullis says is unlikely to be unsurpassed by other energy sectors in the near future:

"Although renewable energy made impressive advances this year, its impact has been dwarfed by the changes caused by the surplus of cheap, abundant natural gas made possible by hydrofracturing—fracking—of shale deposits. … As utilities shift electricity production from coal plants to natural gas ones, carbon dioxide emissions have dropped to levels not seen for 20 years. In China, the government has set ambitious goals to scale up fracking and shale gas production there as well."

Incremental progress is being made with renewables, Bullis writes – specifically, improvements in hybrid vehicle technology and greater efficiencies with conventional engines. New solar technology also is pushing ahead. Yet, he notes, these technologies have a ways to go to impact on a national scale.

Meanwhile, fracking technology also is boosting U.S. oil production, to a point where the International Energy Agency projects U.S. production could surpass Saudi Arabia’s by the end of this decade. Bullis:

"It’s led to credible estimates that within a couple of decades—with the help of rigorous fuel economy standards—North America could produce as much energy as it consumes."

Rising domestic oil and natural gas production has benefits throughout our economy: jobs, capital spending that stimulates direct and indirect economic growth and more revenues generated for government – a point that should be noticed by Washington, as National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg suggested in this recent tweet:

The larger point is that energy affordability, availability and reliability are key factors in the marketplace as different energy technologies come into play. As Bullis notes, the abundance of natural gas and oil from shale, thanks to advances in fracking that continue to emerge, make shale energy the real mover in the energy field right now.

The winners? The American people – in terms of greater energy security that comes from more home-grown energy, jobs, economic stimulus and support for different levels of government. All can be had with policies that sustain and expand current trend lines in oil and natural gas development.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.