US oil and natural gas production is increasing at its fastest rate in five decades, courtesy of the shale revolution. The Bakken formation, one of the country’s largest shale gas reservoirs, produced 0.1 million barrels per day in 2007. In 2012, it produced over one million barrels per day. This rapid growth is set to continue over the next decade too. BP expects North American shale gas production to increase by 5.3 percent annually (on average) until 2030.
But this is only half of the story. Shale gas and water make a disastrous, rather explosive, mix. Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water, combined with chemicals and proppants such as sand into the ground, to crack open the shales and this is now a real concern. Hydraulic fracking, which is currently opening up untold oil and gas resources in Texas, has run into a potential problem there because of the long-term drought that has afflicted the Lone Star State in recent years.