Global shale gas production is expected to grow from 4,130 bln cubic feet in 2011 to 6,991 bln cubic feet in 2021 at a CAGR of 5.4% for the same period, as per MarketsandMarkets. North America, being the only region active with commercial production of shale gas as of year 2010; is expected to remain the largest shale gas market in terms of production volumes by the year 2021 with a share of 78% due to technological expertise and availability of resources; followed by EMEA (13%), Asia Pacific (7%), and ROW (2%). The current exploration and production activities by major oil and gas companies in Europe and Asia Pacific indicate commercialization of shale gas by 2016 in these regions. The markets representing high growth rate in shale gas production from 2016 to 2021 are China (6.2%), Poland (6%), France (5.4%), South Africa (5.1%), and U.S. (5%).
Shale gas is an unconventional natural gas explored from shale rocks or deposits underneath earth through multistage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The shale gas reserves are found across the globe in significant volumes of about 16,103 trillion cubic feet as per the shale gas report by IEA. The major drivers for shale gas market are identified as proved abundance of shale gas resources across the globe, improving supply and distribution infrastructure, decline in natural gas prices, and improvements in drilling technology. The capital intensive nature of shale gas projects and water contamination and usage issues for fracturing requirements hinder shale gas development. The opportunities are cited in probable increase in ethylene volumes through shale gas and new basins discovered in countries like Poland, China, and Australia.
The increasing shale gas production is likely to boost ethylene production by 6.6% by the year 2021. The another challenge of reducing fracturing water requirement from average well consumption of 3.15 mln gallons/well can be overcome by water recycling and increasing well productivity. According to research, if well productivity is over 9 BCF/well, water requirement can be reduced by 35% than that required with average well productivity of 5.4 BCF/well.