The shift toward natural gas will carry tremendous benefits for consumers and the environment. Natural gas is affordable, reliable, efficient and available. It is also the least carbon-intensive of the major energy sources, emitting up to 60 percent less CO2 emissions than coal when used for electricity generation.
Global gas supply increases about 65 percent by 2040, with 20 percent of production occurring in North America
In North America, unconventional gas production is expected to grow substantially to satisfy around 80 percent of gas demand by 2040. The growth in unconventional supplies is a result of recent improvements in technologies used to tap these resources. This will provide opportunities for North America to become a potential natural gas exporter by about 2020.
It is important to put North America’s unconventional gas production in perspective. Globally, about 60 percent of the growth in natural gas comes from unconventional resources, which approach one-third of the global gas supply by 2040. New technologies are enabling economic exploration and development of what once was a hard-to-produce resource. Shale gas comprises the largest component of unconventional resources, but it also includes coal bed methane and tight gas.
For the next two decades, over half the growth in unconventional gas supply will be in North America, moving the U.S. energy mix toward a lower-carbon resource. This competitive energy supply provides a strong foundation for increasing economic output in the United States, opening up new and valuable opportunities in many regions and sectors of the U.S. economy, including the energy sector and other industrial sectors such as chemicals, steel and auto manufacturing.
Natural gas is an abundant, widespread resource that will be the fastest-growing major fuel to 2040
The International Energy Agency estimates there is about 28,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of remaining natural gas resources across the globe. Experts believe this is enough natural gas to meet current demand levels for more than 200 years.
Globally, unconventional gas makes up about 40 percent of the estimated remaining resource. In North America, unconventional gas has a higher share – accounting for about two-thirds.
Unconventional gas production is increasing rapidly in North America. As for unconventional production in other parts of the world, it will take more time to understand the specific geology and technology required to economically produce the resource and to develop the infrastructure to move the gas to markets.