The global shale gas market is forecast to reach $104.1bn by 2020, driven by a number of factors including increasing energy needs and the advent of more efficient exploration technologies.

That’s according to a new market research report by Allied Market Research (AMR), titled ‘Global Shale Gas Market (Technology, Application and Geography) – Industry Analysis, Trends, Share, Opportunities and Forecast, 2013 – 2020’.

The report forecasts the market to reach $104.1bn by 2020, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.3% during the forecast period (2014-2020). The corresponding volume consumption will reach 19,619.4 bcf in the same year.

AMR notes that the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques has nearly doubled the efficiency of shale gas retrieval from plays, revolutionising the shale gas market. China is a major Asian country to propel the demand, it says, aided by insatiable energy needs and increasing dependence on natural gas.

“Shale gas, as potent alternative source of natural gas, is expected to shake up the global energy market in the coming years. The availability of large number of shale plays, which is estimated at 6,148 tcf in total, is presenting opportunity for marketer,” stated AMR analysts Apurva Sale and Guru Mallick. “Technological advancements vis-à-vis the exploration and extraction of shale gas are enabling corporations to gain strategically advantageous positions in the competitive market.”

Though the large number of shale gas reserves are available across the world, (North America 1685 tcf, South America 1430 tcf, Europe 470 tcf, Middle East and Africa 1393 tcf, and Asia-Pacific 1170 tcf), exploration and extraction still remains the major challenge in most of the regions due to high extraction cost and large amount water usage in conventional processes.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for the extraction of the shale gas are contributing to the rise in the production of shale gas in various geographies, however, and this is an area of significance to the industrial gases industry.

Linde Gas recently authored a feature for gasworld on the use of ‘energised solutions’ involving nitrogen and carbon dioxide in oil and gas applications, noting that when injected into gas and oil wells the solutions are able to enhance hydrocarbon production rates and yield improved long-term economic recovery over the life of the well.

Fracturing treatments energised with carbon dioxide or nitrogen are increasingly being recognised for maximising long term well productivity and minimising environmental damage with smaller well-site footprints as they do not require large water retention ponds.

This is driving demand for liquid nitrogen capacity for a number of companies, particularly in the US where the ‘shale gale’ has provided so many opportunities. This was affirmed by MATHESON, for example, when the company told gasworld last year that, “we view oil and natural gas shale related activity to be a key driver in our business going into 2015…”

MATHESON completed the second of two phases of its new ASU capacity in Dickinson, North Dakota in March 2015, to meet the growing demand for merchant liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen in the region – noting that liquid nitrogen is in high demand for shale oil and gas exploration in particular.