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U.S. Drought Won’t Hurt Shale Gas Drilling Much, IEA Says

The U.S. drought is unlikely to have a long-lasting impact on the extraction of natural gas from shale rock, especially as technology improves, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist said.

Much of the Midwest had less than half the normal rain in the past 30 days, National Weather Service data show. The drought is putting pressure on drilling companies to conserve the tens of millions of gallons of water they inject into underground rock to free trapped gas and oil.

“This is a temporary thing, I don’t think it will cause a long-lasting problem,” Fatih Birol said in an interview in Paris today. “In general there’s a water problem in shale-gas extraction, this can be addressed by using the best technology.”

The potential for water contamination from the process of hydraulic fracturing is also a “crucial issue” for the shale-gas industry and this can be minimized by improving the technology and reducing water use, he said.

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