The global unconventional gas market was valued at around US$ 128 Bn in 2017 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 8.61% from 2018 to 2026, according to a new report titled ‘Unconventional Gas Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018–2026,’ published by Transparency Market Research (TMR) Unconventional natural gas, which includes shale gas, tight gas, and coalbed methane, has been more difficult and costly to exploit than conventional deposits. Fossil fuels accounted for more than 85% of the global demand for energy by the end of 2016. Natural gas ranked third (24%), after oil (33%) and coal (28%) during the same period.
Rising Demand for Unconventional Gas Exploration
Increase in investments in exploration and production of offshore oil and gas is propelling the adoption of unconventional gas around the world. Upstream activities for the oil & gas industry are expected to boost their production volumes, thereby propelling the unconventional gas treatment market. Global price of natural gas has been increasing at a steady pace since the beginning of 2018. Offshore and onshore exploration and production activities have also picked up at a significant pace. Growth in shale gas has prompted many countries around the globe to look at exploiting their own unconventional gas resources.
Shale Gas to Remain Dominant Type Segment
In terms of type, the shale gas segment dominated the global unconventional gas market in 2017. Shale gas is a natural gas trapped within the shale formation. It is derived from underground shale deposits that are broken up by hydraulic fracturing. Shale gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal and crude oil. The combustion of shale gas emits significantly lower levels of pollutants, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide than the combustion of coal and oil. There are abundant reserves of shale gas around the world. These may be sufficient to meet the demand for clean energy for many years.
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Major Norms and Regulations Related to Unconventional Gas
- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has amended regulations to avoid gas contamination in the areas where hydraulic fracturing is conducted in the zones of unconventional gas fields
- National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is mandated to play the lead role in ensuring timely, effective, and appropriate response to oil spills, as well as ensuring clean up and remediation of all impacted sites to the best practical extent
- The European Commission has selected the Brussels-based law firm Philippe & Partners to carry out the study ‘EC TENDER TREN/R1/350-2008 lot 1 on Unconventional Gas in Europe.’ The European Commission has set legal framework, including environmental law, which is applied to the licensing/authorization and operational permitting for prospection, exploration, and production/exploitation of unconventional gas.
- In 2013, the Government of Australia amended the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for large coal mining companies to obtain Commonwealth approval where they would have a ‘significant impact’ on water resources
Industrial Application Dominates Global Unconventional Gas Market
Based on application, the industrial segment dominated the global unconventional gas market with more than 34% share in terms of value in 2017. The segment was followed by the power generation segment. Power consumption has increased substantially across the globe over the last few years. Strong growth of the economy and rise in population have boosted power consumption. Thus, the power generation segment is expected to expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period.
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Market in North America, especially in U.S., Expected to Expand at Substantial Pace
North America dominated the global unconventional gas market in 2017. More than 800 billion cubic meter (Bcm) of unconventional gas was produced in the region in 2017. The active rotary rig count in the region increased from 1,036 in January 2017 to 1,261 in January 2018. In terms of volume, North America accounted for 91.1% share of global unconventional gas market in 2017. The U.S. was the prominent producer of unconventional gas in 2017. Barnet Shale and Marcellus shale are among the important shale gas reserves in the country. Currently, shale gas constitutes 47% share of gas production in the U.S. The percentage is estimated to rise to 50% by 2030.
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Highly Competitive Market with Dominance of Leading Players
The global unconventional gas market is highly fragmented. Key players operating in the global market are Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), Schlumberger Limited, Royal Dutch Shell plc., Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, Total S.A., Halliburton Inc., Weatherford International Plc., National Oilwell Varco, BP plc., Emerson Automation Solutions, and TechnipFMC plc.