Hail Shale
Two Thirds of US Gas Is Fracked


The United States produced nearly 80 billion cubic feet of marketed natural gas per day last year, and two-thirds of that production came from wells that were hydraulically fractured. The EIA reports:

EIA created a profile of marketed natural gas production using well completion and production data from IHS Global Insight and DrillingInfo Inc. that shows a dramatic increase in production associated with hydraulic fracking. In 2000, approximately 26,000 hydraulically fractured wells produced 3.6 billion cubic per day (Bcf/d) of marketed gas in the United States, making up less than 7% of the national total. By 2015, the number of hydraulically fractured wells had grown to an estimated 300,000, and production from those wells had grown to more than 53 Bcf/d, making up about 67% of the total natural gas output of the United States. These results may vary from other sources because of the types of wells included in the analysis, update schedules of source databases, and the specific types of natural gas volumes analyzed.

Fracking has been around since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the past ten years that it started to become a game changer. Companies figured out that they could first drill vertically down into shale formations before drilling horizontally along these rock layers, and then hydraulically fracture the shale to release the hydrocarbons trapped within. Combining fracking with horizontal well drilling set off the shale boom, and it boosted the percentage of U.S. gas production aided by fracking from under 7 percent in 2000 to 67 percent in 2015.

In the process, fracking has of course also reversed declines in oil and gas production, and more than that has significantly boosted our output of both important hydrocarbons. In the span of years, not decades, this technology has completely remade the American energy landscape. Its benefits are manifest and its bona fides are unquestionable—that it now produces half of our oil and two thirds of our natural gas is nothing less than jaw dropping.

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