A boom in shale natural gas exploration in the United States sparked concerns about the safety of techniques used for extraction. Chemicals used in the process dubbed fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, are potential sources of groundwater contamination.
International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said during an energy forum in Houston that companies working in shale need to have their plans out in the open.
"Companies need to realize they need to be transparent about what they're doing and they need to take people's concerns seriously," she was quoted by the Platts news service as saying.
She said she expected the United States to become an eventual net exporter of natural gas given lower domestic prices compared with other markets.
"There is little doubt that if low gas prices continue, they will provide a competitive advantage for the U.S. economy for a long time," she said.