Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions [January 23, 2014]   [open pdf - 877KB]

"The United States has seen a resurgence in petroleum production, mainly driven by technology improvements--hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling--developed for natural gas production from shale formations. Application of both of these technologies enabled natural gas to be economically produced from shale and other unconventional formations, and contributed to the United States becoming the world's largest natural gas producer in 2009. Use of these technologies has also contributed to the rise in U.S. oil production over the last few years. In 2009, annual oil production increased over 2008, the first annual rise since 1991, and has continued to increase each year since then. Between October 2007 and October 2013, U.S. monthly crude oil production rose by 2.7 million barrels per day, with about 92% of the increase coming from shale and related tight oil formations in Texas and North Dakota. Other tight oil plays are also being developed, and helped raise the prospect of energy independence, particularly for North America. […] While congressional debate has continued, the Administration has pursued a number of regulatory initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas development under existing statutory authorities. This report focuses on the growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production driven primarily by tight oil formations and shale gas formations. It also reviews selected federal environmental regulatory and research initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed hydraulic fracturing rule and EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] actions."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43148
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