Exxon Mobil touts the economic benefits of US shale gas

 shale gas well

The findings of The Economic and Employment Contributions of Shale Gas in the United States report (commissioned by America’s Natural Gas Alliance) will please the advocates of increased production of shale gas in the Bakken, Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other unconventional plays.

Last week on its company website Exxon Mobil summed up this recent IHS Global Insight report: In 2010 shale gas contributed a $76 billion share of US gross domestic product (GDP), secured $18.6 billion in federal, state and local government tax and federal royalty revenues, and supported 600,000 jobs. US shale gas also attracted $33 billion in capital investment in 2010.

Among its key findings:
–  Shale gas was 27% of US natural gas production in 2010, 34% in 2011, and will be 43% in 2015, and 60% in 2035.
–  By 2015 the shale gas industry will employ 870,000 and to grow to more than 1.6 million by 2035.
–  Between 2010 and 2035 almost $1.9 trillion in capital investment is expected to be made (enough to reduce the current National Debt by 13%).
–  Annual capital expenditure is forecast to grow to $48.1 billion in 2015.
–  The contribution of shale gas contribution to the US GDP will be $118.2 billion by 2015, and $231.1 billion in 2035.
–  Over the next 25 years, the shale gas industry will likely generate more than $933 billion in tax revenues for local, state, and the federal governments (almost enough to cover 2011 Social Security and Medicaid budgets).

Pretty impressive stats, no?

True, but let’s keep it in perspective. The industry-sponsored report and Exxon Mobil’s advocacy is also part of an ongoing push by shale gas producers and gas industry lobbyists to stop state and federal agencies from restricting or over-regulating the shale gas industry in the wake of public concerns over fracking and drilling-related water and air pollution.

(Exxon Mobil, which has operations in half a dozen shale plays across the US, greatly increased its holdings in unconventional gas plays in 2010 through its $41 billion acquisition of XTO Energy.)

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Photo by Gerry Dincher used under a Creative Commons license.
Stuart Hampton

British editorial veteran Stuart Hampton has been covering oil and gas companies for Hoover's since the Neogene-Quaternary period. Well, actually, since the early 1990s. For the best overview of the oil industry and its history he recommends Daniel Yergin's "The Prize." You can also follow Stuart on Twitter.

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