US Monthly Shale Gas Watch: Jan 2013 Release

The U.S. government agency The Energy Information Administration issues data on U.S. natural gas production, including shale gas, on a monthly basis. The latest data release was made on 7 January 2013 and covered October 2012 production in billion cubic feet (bcf). Key points:

  • October 12 natural gas production: 2,058 bcf, +1.9% year-on-year
  • Average monthly production for 12 months to October 12: 1,999 bcf, +6.2% year-on-year

U.S Monthly Dry Gas Production to Oct 12 jpg

Since the beginning of 2012, the rate of production increase has slowed substantially (click chart above for larger image).

Much media attention has centred on a so-called shale-gas revolution in the United States. Three claims are made with respect to the prospective expansion in shale gas production:

  1. The expansion will be sufficient to substantially increase total natural gas production in the U.S. This, in turn, will provide access to a cheap source of energy over the coming decades, so boosting the U.S. economy.
  2. The U.S. will move toward an era of energy self-sufficiency. Moreover, the scale of shale gas production will be sufficient to allow the U.S. to commence natural gas exports, thus transforming non-U.S. energy markets.
  3. Increased natural gas production in the U.S. will mitigate carbon emissions and so reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.

For the first two claims to be substantiated, significant year-on-year rises in U.S. natural  gas production will be required over years. Through tracking monthly production of natural gas, a non-specialist can confirm or refute whether large rises in natural gas production are being achieved and, therefore, whether the claims associated with a shale-gas revolution are credible. In short, the monthly numbers will belie or support the hype.

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