Fracking Is Flopping Overseas

Geological differences make it less cost-efficient in Europe and Asia
An oil rig reflected in a fracking pond on the Giddings Estate, a 10,000-acre field in Midland, Texas Photograph by Jim Wilson/The New York Times via Redux

With all the buzz over fracking—and the 86 percent drop in U.S. natural gas prices the boom has helped cause—you’d think the rest of the world would crash the party. Yet shale development in China, home to the world’s biggest unconventional gas resources, has been slower than predicted. Early enthusiasm faded in Poland after studies pegged drilling costs at three times higher than in the U.S. In 2011, Britain’s Cuadrilla Resources stopped fracking after some minor quakes were linked to its drilling in northwest England. The practice has been banned elsewhere. “When you think about how quickly shale gas became successful in North America, there might be a bit of an expectation for it to happen just as quickly outside of the U.S.,” says Robert Clarke of energy consultant Wood Mackenzie. “That just isn’t reality, unfortunately.”

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