The International Energy Agency hosted its inaugural unconventional natural gas forum in Paris. IEA Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven said unconventional natural gas development needs a sustainable and responsible approach.
"Natural gas is poised to enter a golden age but will do so only if a significant proportion of the world's vast resources of unconventional gas can be brought to markets in a manner that is both profitable and that addresses the legitimate public concerns about the associated environmental and social impacts," she said.
Thanks to developments in shale exploration, the IEA, in its 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, said the United States is expected to be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and the North American region should follow suit in terms of oil by 2035.
Critics of shale development have expressed concern about the types of chemicals and the amount of water used in the process.
Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in Boston last week that the United States was setting the standard for shale developments.
"Improvements in the technology known as hydraulic fracturing are unlocking huge volumes of oil and gas," he said. "And this technology has the potential to do so elsewhere around the world as well."