Overview: The Department of State (DOS) launched the Global Shale Gas Initiative (GSGI) in April 2010 in order to help countries seeking to utilize their unconventional natural gas resources to identify and develop them safely and economically. Shale gas is one of the most rapidly expanding trends in onshore U.S. oil and gas exploration and production. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), during the last decade, U.S. shale gas production has increased fourteen-fold; it now accounts for 22% of U.S. gas production and 32% of total remaining recoverable gas resources in the United States. By 2030, EIA projects that shale gas will represent 14% of total global gas supplies, providing the reserve base necessary for expanded consumption in a business as usual scenario. Future climate policies could increase demand for shale gas since it is a lower-carbon “bridge fuel” to reduce CO2 emissions. Although the U.S. shale gas experience cannot be precisely duplicated, its application through GSGI can be instrumental in helping governments understand the complexities of shale gas development. Governments often have limited capability to assess their own country’s shale resource potential or are unclear about how to develop shale gas in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner through establishing the right regulatory policy and fiscal structures. The ultimate goals of GSGI are to achieve greater energy security, meet environmental objectives and further U.S. economic and commercial interests.
Country Participation: Countries have been selected to participate in GSGI based in part on the known presence of natural gas-bearing shale within their borders, market potential, business climates, geopolitical synergies, and host government interest. Within GSGI, priority countries have the greatest potential for benefiting from GSGI opportunities. Other, non-priority, GSGI participants include those countries that have expressed interest and meet GSGI criteria. To date, partnerships under GSGI have been announced with China, India, Jordan and Poland, with bilateral agreements possible with several other additional countries.
Government-to-Government: The GSGI uses government-to-government policy engagement to bring the U.S. federal and state governments’ technical expertise, regulatory experience and diplomatic capabilities to help selected countries understand their shale gas potential. U.S. government agencies that partner with the Department of State under GSGI include: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE); the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE). A benefit of this government-to-government cooperation is the potential for establishing and strengthening long-term working relationships at the technical and ministerial levels.
Sample Activities: GSGI activities are tailored to each country’s specific needs and availability of funding. Examples of GSGI activities in priority countries include: shale gas resource assessments; technical guidance to evaluate the production capability, economics and investment potential of shale gas resources; and workshops and seminars on technical, environmental, business and regulatory challenges related to shale gas development. Engagement with non-priority countries focuses on regulatory policies and fiscal structures challenges. At the request of these countries, DOS organizes conferences, meetings, training and public-private sector events in the United States. They are also invited to participate in select multilateral GSGI events.