Shale natural gas is fracking impressive!

According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released 4/11/2013, dry shale natural gas production in the U.S. is 27 times higher today than it was in January of 2000. Most of that dramatic increase came after 2006.

Dry shale production has doubled every year for each of the last 6 strait years.

To understand how remarkable that is, it is instructive to compare it with the much vaunted renewable energy industry.

The Rise of Shale Gas

In the year 2000 renewables supplied 6.1 Qbtu/year out of a total energy production of 71.3 Qbtu/yr in the United States. At that time renewables were 8.6% of all energy produced in the USA.

Some people may be surprised by such a large percentage so long ago. It is large because the biggest renewable energy sources are hydroelectric and biomass and they have been around for a long time.

On the other hand, in the year 2000, dry shale natural gas was barely 0.41 Qbtu/yr and a fractional 0.57% of total U.S. energy production.

By the end of 2011 renewables had increased their share to 11.8% of total U.S. energy. But by then dry shale natural gas had risen to match them at 11.6% of total U.S. energy production. Shale passed renewables last year, but final figures showing how much are not yet available.

Renewables Sputtering

In the year 2000, all renewable energy sources combined provided almost 20 times more energy than dry shale did.

In its 2013 early release overview, the EIA predicts that by 2040 all renewables combined will only increase from 13% to 16% of total U.S. electricity production. Natural gas will supply almost twice that by then.

Wind and solar, the glamor sources favored by Obama energy policy, were given 10s of billions in taxpayer money over the last 4 years. Taxpayer subsidized windmills are everywhere you look, but wind and solar are barely blips in the U.S. energy picture at 1.6% of total U.S. energy production.

Shale gas, on the other hand, has got no government support and natural gas production on federal lands has been slashed 33% under President Obama.

While tax supported renewables languish, shale gas’s remarkable growth was made possible through private-sector investment in fracking on non-federal lands.

In the last year shale gas produced 10.1 quadrillion BTUs total production. That is 40 times more energy than wind and solar combined.


The rise of fracking has driven dry shale natural gas production skyward from just 1.2 billion cubic feet/day in January of 2000 up to 27.2 billion by February, 2013.

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. It is fast replacing dirty coal as the preferred method for producing electricity. Since it releases half the CO2 of coal, overall U.S. CO2 emissions have dropped to 1994 levels and are going down.

U.S. taxpayers have invested heavily into wind and solar, yet they barely register on the energy scale. Shale gas, which has had no government support whatsoever, now supplies 12% of all energy produced in the United States. Not only that, it’s a lot cheaper and more reliable than wind and solar.

According to the EIA it will take many decades for wind, solar and the other renewables to match what shale gas has already done today. That is pretty darned fracking impressive.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Apr 13, 2013, in Climate, economics, Economy, Energy, environment, Government, news, Opinion, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I still am amazed that no one ever told us about fracking say five to ten years ago. Is this really a technological shift of major magnitude that fortuitously occured? I do not know, but I always worry when folks say they have found a new panacea and it turns out to be a fad. Wish I knew. Some folks are taking it very seriously. Around here a gas station company is installing compressed natural gas pumps for the fleet vehicles starting to use natural gas. Trucks going to CNG from diesel is a major development too.

  2. Definitely NOT a fad… On sheer numbers alone, solar and wind combined would be considered a fad compared to fracking.

    Fracking has been around about 100 years, so I’ve heard; but perfecting the technique of drilling horizontally at great depth is what has led to the fracking revolution… I think.

Comments and questions are welcomed!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: