9 Jun 2022


Shale Gas: Good or Bad?

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Academic level: College

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In 2012, one of the critical energy challenges that the United States encountered revolved around an insufficient supply of electrical power while considering the demands attributed to the significant rise in temperatures (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The United States is not the only country facing this challenge, but a majority of states are experiencing significant issues in meeting the demand for energy set out due to the considerable rise in populations (Pyle & Dover, 2013). One notable development in the area of energy production has been increased production of shale gas as one of the critical alternatives towards ensuring that the world would meet its set out demands. Pyle and Dover (2013) point out that production of shale gas has increased in the United States by 500%, which accounts for 30% of energy outputs. However, this raises the debate on whether the use of shale gas is good or bad (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The focus of this report is to engage in an in-depth analysis of shale gas to determine whether it is good or bad on multiple perspectives.

Realizing the Potential of Shale Gas 

Shale gas does not arise as a new development but reflects on the fact that companies involved in the oil and gas industry did not consider this gas as being economically feasible and viable (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The development of steerable drilling rigs and hydraulic fracturing, which is otherwise known as fracking, technologies have played a vital role towards the establishment of useful frameworks for the extraction of shale gas (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The development of these technologies resulted in increased investments in the oil and gas industry with the specific focus being on shale gas extraction and production (Pyle & Dover, 2013). From multiple perspectives and studies, it can be noted that shale gas extraction tends to have a wide array of economic benefits (Pyle & Dover, 2013).

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However, the question of evaluating the good and bad side of shale gas does not only focus on the economic benefits but must also focus on other aspects such as the environmental impacts. Cooper, Stamford, and Azapagic (2016) point out that stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have a crucial role towards ensuring that the activities involved in the production of different gases, which include shale gas, have limited impacts on the environments (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016). Other areas to consider include cost of production to determine whether the prices would be affordable with the specific focus being towards ensuring that countries achieve some level of success in bridging the existing gaps in the energy sector. From this analysis, it will be much easier to determine whether indeed the production of shale gas would be viewed as a strategic approach for both developed and developing countries to establish a front for energy production (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016).

Benefits of Shale Gas Extraction 

Economic experts argue that the production of shale gas may have a wide array of benefits from a financial perspective. Firstly, the production process of shale gas is essential for the commercial, as it helps towards creating more avenues for employment within the oil and gas industry. Cooper, Stamford, & Azapagic (2016) argue that shale gas production is a labor-intensive process, which, in turn, suggests that the companies involved in the production process may find themselves in a position where they would need to create more employment (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016). From that view, it can be argued that indeed engagement in shale gas production may be of great value for the economies in ensuring that they achieve their stable employment rates (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016).

Secondly, shale gas may also have economic benefits, as it would help towards reducing consumer costs significantly (Pyle & Dover, 2013). One critical area of concern within the energy sector has been the rising cost of energy attributed to the fact that some countries tend to control the price of oil. However, economists suggest that shale gas will act as a critical solution towards reducing the consumer costs significantly (Pyle & Dover, 2013). When compared to oil, shale gas is much cheaper for the consumer, thus, meaning that consumers stand to benefit considerably from the idea of incorporating shale gas as one of the sources of energy. Lastly, shale gas production is expected to stimulate economic growth not only for the developed countries but also for the developing nations. Pyle and Dover (2013) indicate that increased production of shale gas would be of great benefit towards stimulating economic growth patterns in shale-producing countries, which may be of great value towards limiting control of countries such as Russia.

The extensive uses and clean nature of shale gas also seek to highlight another key benefit of this particular gas, thus, meaning that it would act as a critical alternative for the idea of using oil. Cooper, Stamford, and Azapagic (2016) point out the fact that shale gas is the cleanest source of energy when compared to other fossil fuels, as well as, the fact that it burns much more efficiently are some of the reasons why it is considered as beneficial to replace oil as a source of energy (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016). Shale gas can be used for power and heat generation, which would seek to suggest that this particular type of gas may help towards cutting down on the significant gaps created on matters of energy demands in the world today (Cooper, Stamford & Azapagic, 2016).

Concerns on Shale Gas Extraction 

Alternatively, the extraction of shale gas raises several key concerns, which are essential to consider when deciding whether indeed shale gas is an advantageous option for oil. The crucial first concern raised revolves around the extraction process of shale gas from the group through fracking. Pyle and Dover (2013) indicate that fracking uses a significant amount of water as part of the extracting process, which creates a significant environmental risk due to water pollution associated with the fracking chemicals (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The use of fracking as part of shale gas extraction has raised serious concerns among environmentalist, who argue that this method may have disastrous outcomes concerning pollution of underground water sources (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The fact that the rigs tend to use a significant amount of water as part of the extraction process means that the possibility of this water sipping into underground water sources increases significantly. It can be argued that the outcome of this is that most of the underground water may be rendered unusable (Pyle & Dover, 2013).

Another critical environmental concern revolves around seismic activity resulting from the fracking process used in shale gas extraction (Pyle & Dover, 2013). In a study by the United States Geological Survey, continuous engagement in fracking creates a high risk of seismic activities including earthquakes around the areas where fracking occurs (Pyle & Dover, 2013). The fracking process focuses on drilling into the ground with the focus being towards ensuring that the rigs would reach the shale gas levels. In most cases, this results in violent shaking of the ground, thus, posing a significant risk of earthquakes due to the instabilities in the earth's surface (Pyle & Dover, 2013).

The extraction and burning of shale gas release high levels of methane, which is among the greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Pyle & Dover (2013) argue that continuous investment in shale gas would have a serious implication on the climate structure of the world, as it would become harder for the world to deviate from climate change resulting from greenhouse gases (Pyle & Dover, 2013). When focusing on the economic perspective, economists argue that shale gas is not economically viable or sustainable attributed to the high costs of investment in the extraction of this gas although it is a non-renewable source of energy. Cooper, Stamford, & Azapagic (2016) point out that governments would be in a better position from which to guarantee sustainability if they would invest the same amounts into renewable sources of energy. The renewable sources of energy may not only help in the protection of the environment but would also contribute towards employing millions of people.


The significant increase in populations around the world has created a considerable challenge in meeting the demands for energy supply, which has forced the development of new approaches to curb the increased gap. One such development has been the focus towards extraction of shale gas as one of the significant alternatives to oil. Although shale gas is much more likely to bridge the gap in energy demands, one of the critical questions raised is on whether this gas is good or bad. From an economic perspective, shale gas may help towards increasing employment opportunities, reducing consumer costs, promoting economic growth. However, it is essential to take into consideration the environmental concerns associated with the production of this gas through the fracking process. The process creates a high risk of water pollution, increases risk of seismic activity, as well as, the fact that shale gas is among the highest producers of methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas.


Cooper, J., Stamford, L., & Azapagic, A. (2016). Shale gas: a review of the economic, environmental, and social sustainability.  Energy Technology 4 (7), 772-792.

Pyle, S., & Dover. B. (2013). A Source of Cheap Energy or A Source of Problems – The Potential Benefits and Costs of Shale Gas . 571-574.

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