For the last five years, the world has looked on in awe as an unprecedented energy revolution in the US has left many speculating that the continent could become energy-sufficient by 2035.

However recent discoveries of vast quantities of shale gas and oil outside of the States, such as those found in Australia and the UK, could mean North American companies won’t be the only major players cashing in on fracking.

Australia, already a country rich in natural resources, is now one of the world’s largest exporters of LNG and is looking to catch up to, if not surpass Qatar.  A major issue up until now has been the challenge of extraction from deep and remote areas.

Last month however an independent report revealed South Australia could be sitting on estimated $20 trillion worth of shale oil. Large companies including Linc Energy, who hold the rights to more than 16 million acres of the 19.8 acre Arckaringa Basin located in the south, are preparing to cash in. Chief Executive of Linc Energy Peter Bond, said even if the amount of retrievable oil is less than estimated, it would still amount to more than the Cooper Basin and the Bass Strait combined and could be one of the top prospective areas in the world.

Tens of thousands of miles west, and a year and a half long ban of shale gas exploration in the UK was lifted in December by Energy Secretary Ed Davey. While some laws have been put in place to ensure the environmental impact is low, the introduction of a proposed tax relief on all shale gas production is now actively encouraging companies to explore.

It is hoped that these efforts will increase the amount of shale gas produced and reduce the amount of gas that the country currently imports, which currently stands at approximately 1.8 trillion cubic feet per year. The UK’s demand for power sources is switching from coal generation to natural gas, so any new discoveries are a welcome response to the rising demand.

On the foot of this, UK energy company Cuadrilla Resources Ltd recently announced they have an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in the North West of England. Two of their wells have already reported shale formations 10 times as thick as the typical US deposits.

Both discoveries may be just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come from the rest of the world.

Below is a graph for UK natural gas ICE futures.  It has been speculated that despite the growth in shale gas exploration prices are still on the rise because the UK’s demand for coal generation is wavering and are switching to natural gas.

Figure 1: UK natural gas ICE Futures (created by ZEMA)

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