International players grab more shale acreage, as US fails to see its natural gas potential

The race is on. The first shale formations to really take off were the Marcellus and Haynesville, as well as the Fayetteville and Barnett. Now, liquids-rich shale and unconventional reservoirs are all the rage, with billions going to joint ventures, acreage acquisitions and drill carries in the Eagle Ford and Bakken. Niobrara is also popular, and others are gaining steam.

Just this week, Chinese major CNOOC agreed to pay US producer Chesapeake $1.1 billion to gain interest in its Eagle Ford shale acreage in South Texas, as well as an additional $1.1 billion in a drilling carry. Additionally, Norwegian company Statoil and Canadian major Talisman joined forces in another billion-dollar Eagle Ford shale acquisition.

All the while, T. Boone Pickens and others like the American Gas Association are pushing for a shift to using the cleaner-burning fuel for everything from power generation to natural gas-fueled truck fleets.

According to a report from Pickens, the US imported 60 percent of its oil, or 346 million barrels, in September 2010, spending some $26 billion on the crude imports.

Switching from foreign oil to other energy sources isn't as easy as fueling our cars with something other than gasoline. Our dependence on foreign oil largely is built on our dependence on refined products and petrochemicals, but we can start to make a shift -- to at least using domestic crude and that from our friendly neighbor Canada, which is swimming in oil sands.

While wind and solar and geothermal energy sources continue to grow, unconventional natural gas and shale is abundant in the US -- and the opportunities for change and energy independence are right in front of us.

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Phaedra Friend Troy is the content director for PennEnergy.com, an all-energy website that provides oil and gas, power and infrastructure news, analysis, reports and more. Sign up for a free daily enewsletter today.


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