Cracked: 15 Things to Know About Gas, Money and Power

By Eric Roston and Tom Randall - 2014-02-21T13:10:53Z

Photograph by Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

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Why Frackers Need Exports

U.S. frackers are victims of their own success. They’ve produced so much natural gas that U.S. consumers haven’t found ways to consume it fast enough. Prices are falling so low that some producers are moving their rigs off natural gas altogether. 

New customers are needed, but the row over exports has left its own well of political wastewater. Proponents say exports will bring new wealth to the U.S. and shake up global fossil-fuel markets. Opponents say it will bring higher fuel prices that undermine U.S. manufacturing and keep Americans hooked on gas’ dirtier alternative: oil. 

Who’s right? We’ll soon find out. After years of delay, the U.S. Energy Department has approved six export projects and is considering a dozen more. By 2020, U.S. shale gas may account for 20 percent of the global market, according to a Citigroup estimate.

Another potential customer for American gas? Americans. The U.S. pipeline network is fragmented. It’s easier for Massachusetts, for example, to get its gas from Yemen.