U.S. senators hear mixed assessment of shale

May 22, 2013 at 8:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- Maintaining a flat level of natural gas production from U.S. shale deposits is an elusive prospect, an energy policy director told U.S. lawmakers.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on the prospects foreseen in the U.S. natural sector given production gains from shale exploration.

New technologies used to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations have put the United States in a leadership position in terms of proven reserves.

Deborah Rogers, founder of the Energy Policy Forum and skeptic of shale natural gas prospects, told lawmakers the debate over shale gas has been drowned out by those in the industry touting short-term gains.

She said shale natural gas wells deplete quickly and several companies involved in the practice were struggling to maintain financial well-being.

"Maintaining a flat production profile for any meaningful period of time in shale plays has proved elusive," she said.

American Chemistry Council President Cal Dooley testified that the natural gas sector has given the United States an economic advantage by adding to exports for manufactured goods and creating more jobs domestically.

"Abundant and affordable supply of natural gas has transformed the U.S. chemical industry from the world's high-cost producer five years ago to among the world's lowest-cost producers today," he said.

U.S. lawmakers are debating the prospects for more natural gas exports given the production gains from shale. A full Senate committee forum on shale development is scheduled Thursday.

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