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U.S. shale gas production grows through 2040

Federal report on shale gas comes as presidential candidates review energy policies.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. shale gas production grows through 2040
Shale natural gas production in the United States grows to the point that the country is a net exporter within the next two years, a federal analysis finds. Photo by Steve Oehlenschlager/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Natural gas from shale basins in the United States accounts for more than half of the total production through 2040 to support more exports, a report finds.

A review from the Energy Information Administration finds about half of all of the natural gas produced in the United States now comes from shale gas reserves or is associated with so-called tight oil basins, a category that includes shale formations. Much of that comes from lucrative shale beds like the Eagle Ford basin in Texas and the Bakken play in North Dakota.

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Natural gas production in North Dakota reached an all-time high in March, the last full month for which data are available, at 1.7 million cubic feet per day.

The EIA's analysis finds that, through 2040, total U.S. production from shale gas and tight oil more than doubles to 29 trillion cubic feet, accounting for about 69 percent of total output of natural gas in the country.

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In terms of demand, a shift from coal means the industrial and utility sectors will draw more heavily on natural gas reserves, while exports in the form of liquefied natural gas tug on domestic supplies.

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"Drilling technology improvements that are expected to continue through 2040 will help production keep pace with demand," EIA said in its analysis.

The analysis comes during an election year that put energy in focus in the economic platforms outlined by candidates on both sides of the aisle.

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Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said in a speech last month from North Dakota that "energy dominance" will be a strategic priority if he's elected president, vowing to clear regulatory hurdles that some critics say inhibits full production potential. For the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she'd work to tighten regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a drilling practice used to tap into shale, while at the same time moving the energy mix away from coal. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to ban hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, altogether.

EIA analysis finds domestic gas production passes consumption at a pace that means the United States is a net exporter by 2018. By 2040, net exports will represent about 18 percent of total production.

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