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Poll results: The end of the fracking boom?

18/11/2019
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Last week we asked engineering professionals for your thoughts on the future of the fracking industry. After a downturn in activity, financial troubles and calls for bans, could the fracking boom be coming to an end?

Here’s what you said:

The majority disagree that the fracking boom is over globally, but 50% think that it is coming to an end in the USA

With 45.45% of respondents voting “No”, the outlook initially looks good for the fracking revolution. 

The reasoning given for this response says “the need for energy is too great to stop fracking”.

Fracking has been hailed as a revolution for the USA’s Oil & Gas industry, providing a net economic benefit to the country of $48 billion per year and creating thousands of jobs (it’s estimated that between 2005 and 2012 the fracking industry created over 750,000 US jobs). 

Despite the growth of renewables, Oil & Gas remains the primary energy source and with demand continuing to increase it can be difficult to justify ignoring the vast amounts of recoverable shale gas underneath the ground. This is why it has long been believed that fracking will continue to grow, with a report from the Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy in 2011 estimated that 45% of US gas supply would come from shale gas by 2035.

So an initial look would suggest that EngineeringPro respondents retain enough faith in the need for shale gas to believe that the fracking boom will continue. However many were less optimistic. In fact, looking at just the USA fracking boom, it seems that precisely half of those who voted in our poll believe that it is in fact coming to an end. These votes however, were split by those who believe fracking is over globally, and those who believe it will continue in other countries.

With financial and legislative problems in the US, the fracking boom could be reaching its end
(Image via UC Energy)

22.73% of respondents say the boom is over because “fracking is not profitable and has fallen out of favour with legislators”.

On the face of it, there is certainly a lot of truth to this reasoning. As we pointed out last week, many investors are failing to see a strong enough return from fracking activities, and production falls rapidly after a new well is drilled. For the industry to survive, new wells are constantly required, with more capital needed to drill them each time.

On top of this, anti-fracking campaigners are growing in number and political power. With the 2020 US election rapidly approaching, Democratic candidates are appealing to green concerns by promising stronger limits, regulations and even bans on fracking activities. In the UK the government has already led a ban on fracking, a policy which is supported by almost all parties running for the next election.

All this points to significant problems for the industry, which has been picked up by our respondents. However, do the problems in the US and UK reflect the wider global industry? 
27.27% said “the fracking boom is over the USA, but there are plenty of international opportunities.”

Though these respondents still agree with the points raised above, they are more optimistic about the industry in other countries. And it’s true that many others are just beginning to enter their own potential booms in recovering shale gas, including China, Argentia, Algeria, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Russia.

The industry and legislators in these countries will certainly be watching the rise and fall of fracking the USA with great interest, but whether they will see the activity as a reason not to gamble on their own fracking boom or find other ways to overcome these issues remains to be seen. 

Finally we have the 4.55% of respondents who didn’t see the problem as a simple “yes/no” question. One response in particular revealed an alternative to “traditional” fracking that opens the door to potential innovations that may sustain this industry for longer:

“Micro fracking of targeted parent material that does not fracture aquifer structures is very desirable.”

Have your say

Do you agree with the results of our poll? If you’re one of the 50% who believe that the US fracking boom is over, do you agree with the 23% who think this a global end to the industry or the 27% who think it will be recovered by other countries? Are there any other reasons why the fracking revolution is or isn’t over? Have your say in the comments, and the best responses will be featured in this week’s engineeringpro newsletter.

This week’s poll will be published later today.

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Poll results: The end of the fracking boom? - Time to read 4 min
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