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A Retrospective Review of Shale Gas Development in the United States: What Led to the Boom?


  • Wang, Zhongmin

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Krupnick, Alan

    () (Resources for the Future)


This is the first academic paper that reviews the economic, policy, and technology history of shale gas development in the United States. The primary objective of the paper is to answer the question of what led to the shale gas boom in the United States to help inform stakeholders in those countries that are attempting to develop their own shale gas resources. This paper is also a case study of the incentive, process, and impact of technology innovations and the role of government in promoting technology innovations in the energy industry. Our review finds that government policy, private entrepreneurship, technology innovations, private land and mineral rights ownership, high natural gas prices in the 2000s, and a number of other factors all made important contributions to the shale gas boom.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Zhongmin & Krupnick, Alan, 2013. "A Retrospective Review of Shale Gas Development in the United States: What Led to the Boom?," Discussion Papers dp-13-12, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-13-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-1171, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:eneeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:147-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zirogiannis, Nikolaos & Alcorn, Jessica & Piepenburg, Jayne & Rupp, John, 2015. "I Want In On That: Community-level Policies for Unconventional Gas Development in New York," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 44(2), August.
    3. Clarke, Christopher E. & Hart, Philip S. & Schuldt, Jonathon P. & Evensen, Darrick T.N. & Boudet, Hilary S. & Jacquet, Jeffrey B. & Stedman, Richard C., 2015. "Public opinion on energy development: The interplay of issue framing, top-of-mind associations, and political ideology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 131-140.
    4. repec:eee:resene:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:62-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:appene:v:197:y:2017:i:c:p:327-341 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:appene:v:199:y:2017:i:c:p:88-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hilaire, Jérôme & Bauer, Nico & Brecha, Robert J., 2015. "Boom or bust? Mapping out the known unknowns of global shale gas production potential," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 581-587.
    8. Chi Kong Chyong and David M. Reiner, 2015. "Economics and Politics of Shale Gas in Europe," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    9. Grinets, Irina & Kaznacheev, Peter, 2014. "The Role of Innovative Development in Unconventional Hydrocarbon Exploitation in the Context of the Shale Gas Revolution in the USA," Research Papers kazn02, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
    10. Tian, Lei & Wang, Zhongmin & Krupnick, Alan & Liu, Xiaoli, 2014. "Stimulating shale gas development in China: A comparison with the US experience," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 109-116.
    11. Davis, Rebecca J. & Sims, Charles, 2016. "To Frack or Not to Frack: Option Value Analysis on the U.S. Natural Gas Market," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235642, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. De Silva, P.N.K. & Simons, S.J.R. & Stevens, P., 2016. "Economic impact analysis of natural gas development and the policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 639-651.
    13. Fleming, David & Komarek, Timothy & Partridge, Mark & Measham, Thomas, 2015. "The Booming Socioeconomic Impacts of Shale: A Review of Findings and Methods in the Empirical Literature," MPRA Paper 68487, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Kowalik, Michal & Davig, Troy A. & Morris, Charles S. & Regehr, Kristen, 2015. "Bank consolidation and merger activity following the crisis," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q I, pages 31-49.
    15. Alcaraz, Carlo & Villalvazo, Sergio, 2017. "The effect of natural gas shortages on the Mexican economy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 147-153.

    More about this item


    shale gas; policy; research and development; technology; hydraulic fracturing; horizontal drilling;

    JEL classification:

    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels

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