Will the US be able to export shale gas?
There is a view that the U.S. is preparing to supply shale gas in a liquefied form outside the United States as well. However, the problem is that shale gas and oil contain large amounts of impurities, which not only increases the cost of production, but also complicates the treatment process. Due to chemical differences (shale rock can contain from 30 percent to 95.5 percent methane), instability of the composition requires individual adjustments for each extraction site as well as for transport in a pipeline and for liquefaction.
In the preparation process for simple consumption in the household, producers need to remove harmful impurities from it, because of which it sometimes does not burn at all, and “balance” the calorific value, which usually means the addition of heavy hydrocarbons (ethane, propane and butane) or occasionally, the extraction of these.
“Fat” gas (crude gas that contains a very high amount of heavy hydrocarbons – about 15 percent) is sold to chemical plants, and “lean” gas (gas with low concentration of heavy hydrocarbons – up to 1 percent) comes in cylinders for household needs and puts downward pressure on local prices.
As a result, competitive prices for domestic gas are possible at very short transport distances, and that is why shale gas is almost fully consumed at the production site (shale gas share in domestic consumption in the U.S. is quite large – about 40 percent) and conventional natural gas is shipped to other countries.
That way, things are easier and more profitable for everyone, however extensive production of SG limits the opportunities for expanding the supplies of conventional gas.
Thus, the correct question to ask today, is not so much about hypothetical natural gas supplies coming from the U.S. to the EU (they cannot even be considered, as such really large volumes to influence the market are simply impossible for the U.S. to produce or supply). However, the question of supplying shale oil mining technologies to other countries, about the entry onto new oilfield markets, is a valid one.