The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Lots of Shale Output, Lots of Well-Paying Jobs

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 23, 2013

Good-news posts are better than good. They’re great. What follows is double-barrel oil and natural gas good news – starting with data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on North American natural gas production from shale. The short story: North America is No. 1 in the world. EIA quantifies:

  • U.S. dry natural gas production from shale averaged 25.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) in 2012, while total dry gas production averaged 65.7 bcf/d.
  • Canadian dry natural gas from shale averaged 2.0 bcf/d in 2012, while total dry gas output averaged 14.0 bcf/d.


EIA writes:

The United States and Canada are the only major producers of commercially viable natural gas from shale formations in the world, even though about a dozen other countries have conducted exploratory test wells, according to a joint U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) / Advanced Resources International (ARI) study released in June. China is the only nation outside of North America that has registered commercially viable production of shale gas, although the volumes contribute less than 1% of the total natural gas production in that country. In comparison, shale gas as a share of total natural gas production in 2012 was 39% in the United States and 15% in Canada.

The significance: Thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. and Canada are tapping vast shale plays to lead everyone else in production – resulting in energy, jobs and economic growth. This means energy to meet domestic needs and also supply friends overseas.

Now, good-news story No. 2: NPR follows up on a report last month on research by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce that showed petroleum engineering majors led all other majors in earnings:


… only this time the numbers were crunched to include undergraduate- and graduate-degree earnings:


Petroleum engineers are still at the top – reflecting a growing, vibrant industry that supports 9.8 million jobs – and that keeping America moving forward. Our industry also employs a number of chemical and electrical engineers, which also made this Top 10. 

More good news: Industry can do more. Energy from shale can grow from 1.7 million jobs supported now to 3 million by the end of the decade and 3.5 million in 2035, according to an IHS study – growth that demand more of these college majors and that will continue to pay them well.


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.