Analytical Instrumentation

  • How a Decade of Fracking Changed US Oil

How a Decade of Fracking Changed US Oil

Feb 04 2020 Read 171 Times

10 years ago, the introduction of fracking to the US oil and gas stage transformed the face of the global energy market. A decade later and shale drillers have positioned the United States as the biggest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. While the nation has enjoyed 10 years of prosperity, analysts predict the boom could be approaching a slowdown.

Barnett, Appalachia and Permian spearhead US shale boom

Shale drillers first harvested natural gas in the Barnett Shale, a resource-rich geological formation in North Texas. Next was a major discovery in Appalachia, with technological advances equipping drillers with the capacity to release heavy oil molecules from shale rock formations and maximise productivity. Appalachia was followed by the discovery of one of the most lucrative oil fields in the world, the Permian Basin.

Advances in drilling technology have helped propel the shale industry and position the United States as a global leader in oil and natural gas. According to the Energy Information Administration, 10 years ago drilling or fracking in shale rock formations rewarded US producers with less than one million barrels of oil per day. Now, this figure often tops eight million barrels per day. Not only has the fracking boom helped to push down consumer prices, but it has also bolstered the national economy, positioned the United States as a global energy leader and heavily influenced world politics.

US seeks energy independence

While there is plenty of buzz surrounding headlines predicting the United States will emerge as a net energy exporter in 2020, not all analysts are convinced. Regardless, there's no denying the US shale boom has insulated the country against price shocks such as the September attacks on Saudi Arabia oil infrastructure. Soaring oil production in the United States has helped to pad out global supplies and create a glut that's forced OPEC to impose output restrictions. It has also minimised North America's reliance on major oil producing nations such as Russia.

“At the beginning of the decade, energy independence was still a joke for late-night television comedians,” says American energy expert Daniel Yergin. “Turn around a decade later, and we’re here.”

Looking forward, the climate change crisis will be one of the biggest factors influencing the US shale market. The industry is also facing talks of a slowdown, with many companies reducing spending, tightening capital and pledging to reduce pumping in response to pressure from investors, who are frustrated with the small returns.

From fracking to refining, maximising efficiency is now front of mind for energy producers facing market volatility. For an introduction to the latest ASTM standard test methods, don't miss 'Optimize Catalyst Efficiency by Monitoring Chlorine with Petra Max' which features data from the ASTM Aromatic Hydrocarbons Proficiency Testing Program (PTP)

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