Wonderful Things: How Fracking Is Changing Everything

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Fracking is accomplishing wonderful things for this nation, making us, once again, an industrial powerhouse with spectacular potential far beyond our dreams.

There is such good news out there when it comes to fracking, even though the term often fails to be part of the story. A Today In Energy post this past week from the Energy Information Administration about exports caused me to investigate a bit further and what I discovered in the form of data and charts is instantly revealing of the power of fracking.


This is the part of the EIA post that caught my attention:

…propane export growth has accelerated. Propane exports are shipped to different destinations than other U.S. petroleum exports. Most other U.S. petroleum exports stay in the Western Hemisphere, but some of the top destinations for U.S. propane exports are Asian countries such as Japan and China. Propane has many non-transportation sector end uses, including as a fuel for heaters and cookstoves and as a feedstock for petrochemical industry.

This paragraph was accompanied by an amazing graphic:


Just look at that chart and what’s happened since the shale revolution began in earnest in 2007-2008. Pay attention, also, to where we’re exporting the propane. Japan, one of our most important of all allies is getting energy from us. Likewise, Mexico, with whom we have a balance of trade issue, is also getting ever more of our propane. That propane comes from natural gas and petroleum refining. It’s clean, it’s affordable and it’s easy to transport by a variety of means. The shale revolution —that is to say fracking combined with horizontal drilling — has enabled us to grow our exports tremendously with all these benefits and others. No mention of shale or fracking is made in the article but we know this is what has made it all possible.

It’s also more than just propane or exports. The data comes from EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report. Follow the link and and you’ll have access to dozens of tables, including this one detailing Natural Gas Plant Field Production, which can be modified to focus on various aspects of the data. Here’s what the data shows for production of butane, ethane and propane from natural gas. Once again, fracking’s contribution is startling.


Butane is a basic feedstock for the production of petrochemicals. Ethane is used in the production of ethylene for making plastics, anti-freeze and detergents. It is also a ripening agent for foods, is employed as a refrigerant and is used in producing welding gas. Propane is primarily used as a heating fuel. All three are essential to modern life – all made possible by fracking.

The EIA data also tells us where these production increases have been occurring. Appalachian production (primarily Marcellus Shale) accounted for more than 122 million barrel or 1,691% increase since 2008, representing 20% of the gain nationwide. The Dakotas and environs grew 1,366% and accounted for 11% of US gains. Texas inland plants added over 259 million barrels of production for 42% of US growth. All together, the three fracking areas accounted for 74% of all natural gas plant production increases, contributing to a whole new picture for not only exports but also US manufacturing. It’s good news across the board, in other words.

It’s wonderful things, in fact, wherever you turn when it comes to fracking. That’s the bottom line – even when the word never appears.

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3 thoughts on “Wonderful Things: How Fracking Is Changing Everything

  1. Interesting. Years ago I noticed the news was almost entirely different depending on how you searched in Google: fracking brought up certain stories and natural gas mostly completely different ones.

    How can one describe or analyze the article below on the latest in the never ending saga of the gerhardts and just one “resisted ” pipeline except to say that it seems infantile, biased and not up to snuff for a high school paper? Someone got paid to write this?


  2. Mr. Shepstone

    This is an excellent article that – if anything – grossly understates what is occurring in the world of US NGLs (Natural Gas Liquids),

    Presently, the existing Mariner East pipeline transports 70,000 barrels a day of ethane and propane to Marcus Hook.
    In a few months’ time, Mariner East 2 will enable 275,000 bpd shipment and – including the additional 16 incher dubbed Mariner East 2X – capacity will expand to over 500,000 barrels per day.
    That is an astounding figure.

    In addition to enabling the northeast to become a world leading region for petrochemical industries via its low cost feedstock, the methane-fueled Combined Cycle Gas Turbines will enable electricity to be produced at extremely low pricing.
    All this bodes exceptionally well for future economic potential in that area.
    Quick aside … the US us now the world’s leading exporter of propane/polyethylene.

    Aside #2 … if you or your readers wish to garner a bit of the magnitude of what is unfolding regarding NGLs, suggest you check sites describing the global fleet – virtually non existing 20 months ago – of large ships carrying liquefied ethane to an eagerly waiting global market. The Dragon ships, 8 of them, are now the smallest size in a new built fleet with ships triple the capacity.
    Indian petchem outfit, Reliance Industries, has set up a virtual pipeline from Morgan’s Point to their new cracker with the 6 huge ships carrying liquefied ethane on a non stop basis.

    The fact that the infamous Foxconn is building a new multibillion dollar manufacturing plant in union country, USA, rather than expanding in China should scream volumes to the discerning observer.

  3. See also Mathews, C.; “Shale Boom’s Impact in One Word: Plastics”; The Wall Street Journal 6/26/17. “The boom in drilling [due to hydraulic fracturing] has expanded the output oil and gas in the U.S. more than 57% in the past decade.” The US Chemical Council estimates 310 petrochemicals plants have been initiated. IHS Mrket estimates that the products e.g. fertilized, adhesives and solvents will increase in Sales Revenue from $17B in 2016 to $110B in 2027. Thus Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing will continue to contributes to US economic growth and new job creation.

    Also please see my previous article Thank You Dr. Richard W. Goodwin P.E. 7/2/17

    Goodwin, R.W.; “Contributions of Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing to the USA Economy”;OilPro, January 29, 2015
    This article discusses how horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are directly related to Previous Economic Benefits , Falling Gasoline prices – helping consumers while inducing an industry-wide temporary slow-down with a moderate rebound and hurting those Oil Dependent Countries that support terrorists.


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