The 'Shale Gas Revolution': Developments and Changes

Briefing Paper

Chatham House briefing
  • The ‘shale gas revolution’ in the United States created an oversupply of liquefied natural gas and downward pressure on gas prices across the globe.
  • Disappointing outcomes have reduced the hype about the prospects for shale gas in Europe, and led to the realization that, at least in western Europe, there are serious obstacles to its development.
  • There has been considerable debate over the level of technically recoverable shale gas resources together with significant revisions to some estimates of those resources.
  • Growing opposition to shale gas is driven by concerns over the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In the United States, energy self-sufficiency has increased in importance, making the continuation of the ‘shale gas revolution’ there more likely.
  • There is a growing fear that shale gas may substitute not for coal as many originally hoped, but for renewables.
  • Overall, levels of investor uncertainty remain as high as ever, particularly with regard to developments outside the United States.