Reports & Studies

An Energy Revolution: 35 Years Of Fracking In The Barnett Shale

The current United States energy revolution first began in North Texas 35 years ago, with the Barnett Shale being the birthplace of modern-day fracking.

Published : May 2016

Related Key Terms:

natural gas
Barnett Shale

Table of Contents

Executive Summary (Pg. 1)

Key Highlights (Pg. 1)

Introduction (Pg. 2)

What is Shale? (Pg. 3)

Unlocking the Barnett Shale (Pg. 4)

Resources in the Barnett Shale (Pg. 9)

The Growing Role of Shale Gas and Tight Oil (Pg. 11)

Economic Benefits of the Barnett Shale (Pg. 13)

The United States Becomes a World Energy Leader (Pg. 14)

Conclusion (Pg. 16)


Key Findings

The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. Once considered to have dwindling energy resources and a dangerous reliance on foreign imports, the United States now has the distinction of being the largest combined oil and natural gas producing country in the world. Few experts saw this transformation coming, and it was made possible by the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling, which allowed oil and natural gas to be unlocked from tight rock (shale) formations. This revolution first began in North Texas 35 years ago, with the Barnett Shale being the birthplace of modern-day fracking.

This report examines the history of the Barnett Shale, the role it has played in changing global energy dynamics, and the economic benefits it continues to provide to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

  • The fracking boom, which has transformed the global economy, began in North Texas.
  • Since 2003, the Barnett Shale has produced more than 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 225 million homes for one year.
  • The USGS recently doubled its assessment of the Barnett Shale, estimating it contains 53 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.
  • Just 28 percent of the Barnett Shale’s natural gas resources have been developed; meaning production in the Barnett Shale hasn’t even reached the half way point.
  • The Barnett Shale has provided $11.8 billion in gross product per year and created more than 107,650 permanent jobs in North Texas.
  • Lower natural gas prices from fracking resulted in annual savings of $432 per person in energy and home heating costs in Texas between 2007 and 2013.
  • Thanks to fracking, the United States is now the world’s top oil and natural gas producer.
  • Today, nearly two-thirds of U.S. natural gas production comes from fracking, up from just one percent in 2000.
  • If Texas were a country, it would be the world’s second largest natural gas producer. Among OPEC nations, only Saudi Arabia produces more oil than Texas.
  • Fracking helped the United States in 2015 post an annual trade surplus with OPEC for the first time ever.
  • The first shipment of U.S. crude oil overseas in more than 40 years was from the Eagle Ford Shale formation in south Texas.


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