4 Photos - Mar 16, 2012
Photo: The surge in shale gas production is transforming the North American energy market. New drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing, a process used safely over a million times since the late 1940s on other rock formations, have been combined to make shale both productive and economic.Photo: The U.S. Department of Energy estimated total U.S. natural gas reserves and resources to be approximately 1,200 TCF in 2000. In less than a decade, this same estimate more than doubled to over 2,500 TCF in 2009. At current consumption levels, this resource base represents over a century of supply.Photo: Natural gas is found throughout the world in underground formations, such as sandstone, carbonates, coal and shale. These resources are accessed by drilling vertical, horizontal or multi-lateral wells to the target formation. Various completion techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing, are then used to create an effective connection between the well and the targeted hydrocarbon-containing formation, thereby providing a pathway for the gas to be produced.Photo: By far, the largest consumer use of natural gas in the United States is for heating, cooling and cooking in homes and businesses. More than half of the 120 million U.S. households and approximately 5 million U.S. businesses consume natural gas for these and other purposes.