Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for US News and World Report on the future of the Shale Revolution:
For all its enormous impact on global energy markets, the U.S. economy and global geopolitics, its sustainability and wider acceptance of the “shale revolution” – production of gas and tight oil from hydraulic fracturing – fracking remains an open question. Could it fizzle? What is the scenario for the future of shale?
Shale already accounts for nearly 40 percent of U.S. gas production – up from 2 percent a decade ago – and an IHS study projects it to rise to 75 percent by 2035. Not only is the shale revolution largely a U.S. phenomenon, but even in the U.S. only a modest portion of shale potential is being developed. Key potential sources of shale gas and tight oil plays in New York, California and Colorado fracking are banned or production is constrained.
Concerns about the environmental impact of fracking threaten both the longevity and the potential scope of the shale revolution in the U.S. and abroad. With sanctions against Russia likely to impact supply as well as spur a European hunt for alternative gas sources, shale gas can play an important role over time in reducing EU energy dependency on Russia. Moreover, expanding the shale revolution could yield important energy security and climate benefits due to natural gas’s potential as a bridging fuel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions – if used instead of coal for electricity – in the interim until post-carbon options are more fully commercialized.