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Careful What You Wish For: The Shale Gas Revolution and Natural Gas Exports

Nov 2012
Policy Brief
By  Frank Wolak
Energy industry observers have called the development of unconventional natural gas extraction technology the most important innovation in the industry in the past 50 years. Horizontal drilling technology to reach deep underground shale formations and hydraulic fracturing technology to break apart the shale for a controlled release of the natural gas trapped inside are the two major breakthroughs that have enabled the commercial viability of shale gas. Both of these technologies were primarily developed in the United States and, for the most part, by new entrants rather than established firms. For example, Chesapeake Energy, currently the nation’s second largest natural gas producer, specializing in unconventional natural gas technology and ranked 229 in the 2012 Fortune 500, was established in 1989.