7 Jaw-Dropping Facts From America's Shale Revolution

The facts are clear: Shale is a game-changer for America's energy industry.

May 16, 2014 at 12:12PM

The facts are clear: Shale is a game-changer for America's energy industry. 

For decades, geologists have known that vast quantities of oil and gas laid locked inside the fine grained sedimentary rock. However, it has only been recently that new technologies have allowed energy producers to exploit this bounty. 

Since operators began developing these shale fields in earnest, the industry has produced some incredible statistics. Here are the seven incredible facts from America's shale revolution. 

1) America could become energy independent by 2020
According to estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United Stares is sitting on 58 billion barrels and 665 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale oil and gas. To put those numbers into perspective, that's enough oil to fuel 113 million consumer vehicles for nearly two decades and enough gas to heat 61 million homes for 160 years.

Thanks almost entirely to shale drilling, U.S. oil production is expected to hit 11 million barrels per day by 2020, more than double the country's output in 2005. So much oil is flowing that the U.S. may not need to import any crude at all, or at least only rely on friendly nations such as Mexico and Canada by the end of the decade. 

2) Horizontal drilling can pull forward three decades of oil production.
Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have only recently allowed producers to economically exploit energy from shale rock. To highlight the improvements in drilling technology, Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) CEO Scott Sheffield pointed out in a recent conference call that a vertical well in the Texas Spraberry/Wolfcamp shale would take between 30 to 35 years to produce 140,000 barrels of oil equivalent. However, a single horizontal well in the same area accomplished the same feat within its first six months of operation. While this is an usually strong result, we're seeing comparable improvements in other shale fields across the country.  

3) The U.S. is on track to export 6.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
Thanks to shale drilling, gas production has soared 20% in five years and the U.S. should have enough gas to last generations.Soon the nation will begin exporting gas, an unthinkable possibility just a few years ago.

In total, the Obama Administration has given the green light to export 6.3 billion cubic feet of LNG per day on four contracts. Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG) was the first company to receive government approval to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal in a generation. Its Sabine Pass export facility is under construction right now in Louisiana and CEO Charif Souki expects the terminal to be operational by 2015.

4) Midstream companies will spend $100 billion on new infrastructure.
Companies like Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI) that store, ship, and process all of these new hydrocarbons are poised to make a fortune. However, the industry will need massive new investments in order to accommodate surging production. According to a report from ITG and Tortoise Capital Advisers, midstream MLP's have set aside $100 billion for new pipelines and other facilities over the next three years.

5) Shale drilling has created 1.7 million jobs.
According to a report by IHS CERA, shale drilling has boosted America's average annual household income by $1,200. Based on the same study, unconventional energy production has also created 1.7 million direct and indirect jobs. 

Through 2020, shale drilling could generate more than two million jobs in the United States. Hiring is on the rise in traditional energy centers like Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. However, the boom extends to other states as well like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wyoming, and West Virginia, a big boost for many struggling regions. 

6) Shale drilling has shaved $165 billion off of the nation's trade deficit.
All of this new found oil and gas could boost the value of the U.S. dollar and reduce the nation's trade deficit. According to a study by IHS, shale drilling reduction could reduce the U.S. trade deficit by $164 billion by 2020. That statistic represents almost third of the nation's current trade deficit.

7) Shale drilling could create five million manufacturing jobs by 2020.
In order to take advantage of low natural gas prices, Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) is building a multibillion-dollar chemical plant in Freeport, Texas. The company estimates that the new facility will create 2,000 jobs at peak construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2017. However, the new plant is only the largest part of a $4 billion expansion in the region. 

Dow is only one of many companies capitalizing on America's abundant gas supplies. A reshoring trend is already underway in other industries like steel, fertilizers, and tires. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, the shift could bring back up to five million manufacturing jobs by 2020, positions once believed to be lost forever to China and other low cost countries.

3 stock picks to ride America's energy bonanza
Record oil and natural gas production is revolutionizing the United States' energy position. Finding the right plays while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, the Motley Fool is offering a look at three energy companies using a small IRS "loophole" to help line investor pockets. Learn this strategy, and the energy companies taking advantage, in our special report "The IRS Is Daring You To Make This Energy Investment." Don’t miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it’s absolutely free. 


Robert Baillieul has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Dominion Resources. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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