The shale boom is barely a decade old and it already accounts for half of American natural gas production, but according to the EIA’s newest Annual Energy Outlook, by 2040 fracking will be producing nearly 70 percent of our country’s gas. The EIA reports:
The growth in total U.S. dry natural gas production projected in the Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case results mostly from increased development of shale gas and tight oil plays. Natural gas resources in tight sandstone and carbonate formations (often referred to as tight gas) also contribute to the growth to a lesser extent, while production from other sources of natural gas such as offshore, Alaska, and coalbed methane remains relatively steady or declines. […]As a result of growth in production, domestic production is soon expected to surpass domestic consumption of natural gas, and by 2018 the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since the 1950s. By 2040, net exports of natural gas reach 7.5 Tcf, which is 18% of total U.S. production.
Did you catch that? We’re just two years away from becoming a net exporter of natural gas—a remarkable feat when you consider that we spent most of the last decade beefing up our liquified natural gas (LNG) import infrastructure in a quest to secure alternative methods of gas supply in the coming years. Now, those import terminals are looking like a busted bet, and we’re instead constructing export facilities to start liquifying and shipping our glut of shale gas to customers abroad. And, no surprise, it’s shale gas that’s changing the game:
That’s a striking visualization of one of the quickest transformations of energy fortunes we’ve seen in decades, and it comes courtesy of the ongoing innovations of an upstart industry that continues to find new ways to make new plays profitable. The shale boom has already done so much, but as you can see, it’s not close to being done yet.