Last year, 244 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was transported around the globe. The recent shale gas revolution, coupled with low domestic natural gas prices, has led many operators in the US to consider export of their gas to more lucrative markets in Asia and Europe. More than 25 LNG projects have been proposed in the US, totaling a capacity of more than 200 MTPA. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved five LNG terminals in the US. Most experts believe US LNG export capabilities will be about 10% of domestic production in the coming years, which puts LNG export estimates between 6 and 8 Bscf/D. The question remains, where will all of this gas come from?

The vast amount of increased gas production in the onshore US will come from growth in the shale gas plays. These plays, including the Barnett, Fayetteville, Woodford, Marcellus, Haynesville, Eagle Ford, and others, will be further exploited to supply domestic needs and the new LNG export demand. A typical proposed US LNG train is estimated to output 4.5 MTPA, which requires an input of around 636 MMscf/D. It will take a significant quantity of shale gas wells to deliver enough gas to keep a train at full capacity. This paper addresses the impact that LNG- driven natural gas demand will have on the future development of shale gas plays in the US.

Increased demand on domestic US natural gas supplies will be met with increased development drilling. In order to quantify the impact of LNG exports on the market, this paper considers the number of horizontal shale gas wells needed to supply one LNG train continuously. Shale gas basins around the US were studied to estimate both the number of wells needed to supply a train initially and the number and frequency of future wells that will need to be drilled to maintain the train at full capacity. Current activities, including infrastructure and rig counts, decline trends, economics, and drilling times are included in the analysis.

This paper discusses the impact future increased LNG gas demand will have on the field development plans of shale gas plays and identifies probable future activity levels in shale gas basins due to exploitation activity focused on LNG supply. The feasibility of LNG export from the US is a topic of debate, and this paper will provide context and rationale for the discussions.

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