Shale gas is natural gas derived from shale, a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud.
In the US it is becoming increasingly a by-product for the more profitable oil and liquids production, or even being abandoned in favour of outright oil production. In the EU though, the market has not even got that far.
Ever since the Barnett Shale formation in North Texas proved to be one of the most prolific natural gas plays in North America, producers have been flocking to other shales from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast in hopes of extracting the trillions of cubic feet of gas believed to be trapped beneath.
But the much-publicized gas rush has prompted a backlash from lawmakers worried that the drilling technique most often used -- hydraulic fracturing -- threatens to pollute drinking water supplies and, as a result, public health.
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