Natural gas—which is an abundant resource in North America – is expected to overtake coal as the number two fuel source by 2025.1 Technological recovery advancements, coupled with a drive toward cleaner energy, will push the popularity of this abundant resource.
The proliferation of natural gas production has significant economic impact, contributing more than $380 billion annually to the US economy and creating 2.8 million American jobs.2
Domestic production of unconventional natural gas – shale gas, coal bed methane, and tight gas – is increasing exponentially. Some 28,000 trillion cubic feet of remaining natural gas resources are estimated worldwide. Globally, unconventionals constitute about 40% of this. In North America, however, unconventionals account for about two-thirds.3
Utah is currently the 11th largest producer of natural gas in the United States.4
Advances in technology have made it relatively quick and easy to extract and process natural gas: The process of setting up the rig, drilling, fracture stimulating, and installing operational equipment can take two to eight weeks, depending on location-specific variables such as drilling depth, location, and formation. The actual drilling phase can last three weeks of continuous 24-hour-a-day operations until completed.6
The U.S. is home to an estimated 1,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.7 The majority of natural gas produced in the U.S. is shale gas, which is found in rock formations and can be extracted using a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) that is used to extract “tight” oil.
This video introduces the technology behind hydraulic fracturing and explains how it's currently being used to extract gas from tight shale formations.
Natural gas offers an alternative energy source with a plethora of residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation applications.
Natural gas is already a popular fuel for American homeowners, who use it to heat their homes and as fuel for stoves, ovens, and dryers. And the popularity of natural gas is expected to continue: According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Census Bureau,8 more than half of new family homes relied on natural gas for heating.
Natural gas can also be used to power air conditioning. Natural gas air conditioners are more energy-efficient, longer-lasting, and require less maintenance9 than traditional air conditioning units.
Businesses, schools, hospitals, and restaurants rely on efficient, cost-effective natural gas for heating and cooling, and drying. Natural gas-powered appliances are especially popular with restaurants and large-scale food preparation operations.18
Industry is one of the largest consumers of natural gas. Natural gas is used in a wide variety of industries, including:10
Natural gas is used for heating, cooling, drying, and fuel in industrial settings – but it is also used as an ingredient in the production of products such as certain types of plastics, fertilizers, and fabrics.
Clean, cost-effective natural gas is growing in popularity as a fuel for vehicles – especially for fleet vehicles such as shuttles, buses, taxis, and public service vehicles.11 Natural gas can also be used in the generation of electricity.12