Where in the World Will the Fracking Boom Visit Next?

Fracking has reshaped American drilling, and shale gas stores are popping up all over the world

Shale gas around the world. U.S. Energy Information Administration

First developed in 1947 by Stanolind Oil, hydraulic fracturing took a long time to come into vogue. But in the past few years, the drilling technique, used to extract shale gas and oil, has transformed the United States’ production of natural gas and oil. Before the rise of fracking, natural gas and oil trapped in shale deposits were pretty much ignored. No one really knew how to get it out and, to the extent that they did, getting it out cost too much to bother.

But that’s changing. A global survey of estimated stores of shale gas by the  U.S. Energy Information Administration has added a whopping 32 percent to the global estimated supply of natural gas, says the AFP. Shale oil boosts global oil reserves by up to 11 percent. In other words, there’s a lot of fossil fuel out there, trapped in shale, and it’s increasingly profitable to get it out.

The U.S. has been leading the charge in the fracking, and now the economic success of the American fracking boom is spurring other countries to see if they can replicate it. In its report, the EIA estimated the availability of shale gas and oil around the world. The top five countries for technologically recoverable shale oil are Russia, the U.S., China, Argentina and Libya. For natural gas, it’s China, Argentina, Algeria, the U.S. and Canada. The report says that it doesn’t necessarily make economic sense to go after all of this oil and gas. But that balance could shift if the prices of oil and gas go up, much as the high price of oil is driving the development of the Canadian oil sands.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Two Companies Want to Frack the Slopes of a Volcano
Researchers Find Fracking Might Cause Earthquakes After All
Natural Gas Fracking May Be the Only Industry in China That’s Developing Slowly

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