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Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 25, 2014

American Shale Gas and Tight Oil: Reshaping the Global Energy Balance

IHS Unconventional Energy Blog: The development of shale gas and tight oil in the United States constitutes an “unconventional revolution,” owing to its scale and speed. It is already having a profound global impact: upending energy markets, reshaping competitiveness in the world economy, and portending major shifts in global politics.

The unconventional revolution was born out of advances in two technologies. Hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — was introduced at the end of the 1940s. Efforts to apply this technique to dense shale in Texas began in the early 1980s. But it took two decades to perfect the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling that would drive the new boom. And it wasn’t until 2008 that these techniques began to have a major impact.

Since then, however, growth has been remarkable. Shale gas currently accounts for nearly half of U.S. natural gas production, and U.S. prices have fallen to one third of European levels and one-fifth of Asian levels. Tight oil, produced with the same techniques as shale gas, has led to a 60 percent rise in U.S. oil production since 2008. This increase of three million barrels per day is larger than the national output of nine of the 13 OPEC countries. The International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will soon overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.