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Global shale gas and tight oil production

Global shale gas and tight oil production
Let’s discuss who are the most active current producers of shale gas and tight oil. The United States, Canada, China, and Argentina are the only four countries that are actively producing commercial volume of shale gas and tight oil. And four countries have different focus of shale gas and tight oil. First, The United States is by far the most dominant producer of both shale gas and tight oil. Canada is the only country of both shale gas and tight oil producer. On the other hand, China is the only other country to produce only shale gas. On the other hand, Argentina is the only other country to produce shale oil. How about in terms of shale gas and tight oil reserves?
In other words, potentials to produce shale gas and tight oil. As shown in the next table, in terms of shale oil reserves, the number one country as reserves of shale oil is Russia. Russia has the biggest shale oil reserves in the world. But in terms of shale gas reserves, America is not the biggest shale oil reserve holder. The biggest shale gas reserve holder, on the other hand, is China. China has the biggest shale gas reserve in the world. China has 1.5 times of global shale gas reserves of the United States. America comes second in terms of shale gas reserves.

Let’s look at the unconventional oil and gas production potentials of countries other than the US.

Top ten countries with technically recoverable shale recources

The United States has access to significant shale resources. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2014, EIA (Energy Information Administration) estimated that the United States has approximately 610 Tcf of technically recoverable shale natural gas resources and 59 billion barrels of technically recoverable tight oil resources.

As a result, the United States is ranked second globally after Russia in shale oil resources and is ranked fourth globally after China, Argentina and Algeria in shale natural gas resources.

The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates China holds the world’s largest shale reserves of 31.6 tcm (1,275 tcf) of technically recoverable shale gas reserves.

China’s Ministry of Land and Resources has a more conservative estimate of 25 tcm. Both assessments are higher than the 24.4 tcm (862 tcf) of shale gas reserves estimated for the US (the second largest).

The global natural gas consumption in 2011 was about 110 Tcf. The global estimates have increased in the last 30 years from about 3,000 Tcf to 8,000 Tcf of natural gas mostly in Russia, Iran, Qatar, and Turkmenistan.


  • US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Shale in the United States,” December 15, 2016
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Global Resource Politics: the Past, Present and Future of Oil, Gas and Shale

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