Skip to Content

Where Is the Global Shale Gas Revolution?

Despite massive resources all over the world, only three countries have managed to produce shale gas at commercial scale.
July 20, 2015

The United States is not alone in having massive shale gas resources: shale formations rich in gas can be found all over the world. But so far no other country has come close to replicating the U.S. boom that has led to relatively cheap natural gas and helped curb yearly carbon dioxide emissions.

According to recent numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only two other countries—Canada and China—are now producing commercial volumes of gas from shale formations, a process made feasible relatively recently thanks to the development of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology (see “Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map”).

Those countries lag far behind the United States in production, however. Though China, the world’s largest annual emitter of carbon dioxide, has nearly as much technically recoverable shale gas as the U.S. according to recent EIA estimates, challenging geology has been a major obstacle, and the country has had to scale back its near-term goals dramatically (see “China’s Shale Gas Bust”).

According to the EIA, recent developments indicate that China is on schedule to produce some 17 million cubic meters per day by the end of this year. By comparison, current U.S. production is roughly 1.3 billion cubic meters per day. Canada, the second-largest shale gas producer, produced roughly 113 million cubic meters per day last year.

Mexico has begun to produce a very small amount of the gas, and Poland, Algeria, Australia, Colombia, and Russia are all exploring the potential for developing oil and gas resources from their own shale formations. But according to the EIA, the “logistics and infrastructure” necessary to support production at the level seen in the United States does not yet exist in other countries besides Canada and China.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.