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Marcellus Shale Could Shift Entire North American Natural Gas Market

Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--In BP's recently released "Energy Outlook 2030," analysts estimate that in 2030, approximately 81% of the world's energy will come from fossil fuel sources. While renewable energy remains the fastest-growing sector, BP estimates that renewable sources of energy will meet only about 6% of the world's energy needs by 2030. Among the fossil fuels that will be the main source of global energy consumption, natural gas is the fastest growing segment. One of the biggest contributors to the rise of natural gas--and certainly one of the biggest game-changers to hit the energy market in the past several years--is the ability to extract natural gas from shale plays.

One of the most important of these shale plays is the Marcellus, which lies under portions of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Maryland. Experts have estimated that the Marcellus Shale could hold up to 1,600 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. In this week's "Navigating the Currents of Change" webcast, Jesus Davis, Industrial Info's vice president of research for the Oil & Gas Production, Transmission and Terminals industries, discusses why the Marcellus is such an important asset to the U.S. and global energy markets.

"One of the biggest benefits of natural gas is its abundance here in the United States," said Davis. The U.S. shale plays have increased the availability of natural gas and helped bring down the price in the U.S., making it one of the cheapest sources of energy. Davis noted that the use of natural gas will be one of the primary means that the U.S. can gain energy independence and wean itself from oil imports.

The geographic location of the Marcellus Shale makes it particularly valuable resource. "It's located in a densely populated area by New York and Philadelphia, where energy consumption is high," said Davis. The development of the Marcellus is driving infrastructure development in the area. "Typically what would happen is we would send natural gas from the southern states--Texas, Louisiana, offshore from the Gulf of Mexico--up to the Marcellus area. But now that they have this abundance of fuel in their own back yard, what we're seeing is a lot of pipelines and processing structure being built." There's simply not enough processing capacity to handle the amount that will be produced in the area, which is driving infrastructure development and helping boost the economy of the Marcellus area.

Infrastructure development is indicative of the domino effect that the Marcellus is having on industries in addition to Oil & Gas Production. Davis pointed out that the Metals & Minerals Industry was one such beneficiary of U.S. shale gas development. "In the Metals & Minerals Industry, the availibility of shale gas is having an effect on steel manufacturers, who are expanding to supply the infrastructure needed for the gathering and transportation of shale gas, such as drill pipe, gathering pipe and line pipe," said Davis. In addition, frac sands mines are being developed to help supply this necessary material in the fracturing process. For additional information on the development of frac sands mines, see September 7, 2011, article - Rapid Escalation Anticipated for U.S. Frac Sand Mining and Processing Projects.

Industrial Info is tracking more than 100 major projects across various industries that are being driven the development of the Marcellus Shale. The projects have a combined value of almost $9 billion, providing a huge benefit to the Marcellus area and the entire country.

On February 15, Davis will be presenting at Industrial Info's Exclusive 2012 Industrial Market Outlook at the Hilton Americas in Houston. In addition to Oil & Gas Production, Storage, and Transmission, other industries highlighted at the outlook event include Petroleum Refining, Power Generation, Metals & Minerals and Chemical Processing. Attendance is free, but space is limited. Click here for more information or to RSVP for this event!