May 24, 2010 6:32 pm

Shale gas extraction explained

The process of breaking up or fracturing previously impervious shale rock to release natural gas – known as “fracking” in the industry – has sparked a flurry of multibillion-dollar deals, including the $41bn agreement by ExxonMobil to purchase XTO, the shale gas specialist, in 2009.

In terms of supply, the shale gas revolution has had a huge impact. In less than five years, the US has gone from seeking new sources of gas from overseas to being self-sufficient.

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This interactive graphic shows the basic steps involved in extracting natural gas from shale rock. It moves from drilling and identifying whether a well will be productive to the “fracking” that releases the gas and brings it up to the surface.

Horizontal drilling, where the well bore turns 90 degrees and travels along the shale stratum is one reason that shale gas has become much more economically viable in recent years

You can also view information on “hot areas” around the world for shale gas and other unconventional hydrocarbons on our interactive graphic with commentary from Carola Hoyos, the FT’s chief energy correspondent.

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