The technology that has allowed domestic energy companies to produce oil and natural gas from shale and other dense rocks has transformed economies throughout North America, but development likely would be more difficult internationally.
Horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, allowed domestic producers to quickly reverse a decades-long trend of declining natural gas production.
The discovery of how to recover oil and natural gas from shale and other dense rocks moved the country in less than five years from an energy importer with uncertainty about where future energy supplies would come from to being so awash with natural gas that prices plummeted to less than $2 per thousand cubic feet, down from a peak of more than $13 in 2008.
Prices have since recovered somewhat as companies have moved their focus primarily to oil.
State-owned energy companies in China and other parts of the world have spent billions in recent years partnering with domestic energy companies to learn how to best recover oil and natural gas from tight rock, but learning how fracking and horizontal drilling work might not be enough.
One reason oil and natural gas drilling has been successful domestically is because many of those who are inconvenienced the most stand to profit on the effort.
“We’re the only country in the world where you own your mineral rights down to the center of the earth unless someone already sold them under you,” JAStanislaw Group founder Joseph A. Stanislaw said Thursday at the University of Oklahoma’s Energy Symposium.