The 2015 Modern Shale Gas and Oil Production Forum, “Regulation, Conversation, and Impact of Shale Gas and Oil in a Low Price Environment,” convened about 60 invited energy leaders, including regulators from leading producing states and representatives from industry and the environmental community. The discussions covered a broad range of environmental and community effects related to shale gas and oil production, including water use and availability, surface and groundwater contamination, air emissions, land use impacts, induced seismicity, and local nuisance issues. The Forum also benefited this year from a meeting of state regulators that took place in the days immediately preceding the Forum. The focus of this meeting was to discuss the concept of a regulatory consultation and assessment process to promote continual regulatory improvement – an idea initially discussed during the 2014 Modern Shale Gas and Oil Production Forum.
- One repercussion that has not yet materialized in a meaningful way is industry consolidation, even though the U.S. oil and gas industry is highly fragmented both regionally and in terms of types of companies. Equity markets have largely kept consolidation at bay thus far.
- Leak detection and repair programs are a key part of addressing the problem of fugitive emissions and can be very cost-effective, paying for themselves in relatively little time.
- Water impacts remain a particular challenge for shale oil and gas development, but by recycling, reuse and better overall management of water some companies are effectively addressing current problems and avoiding future ones.
- Aggregate production of oil and gas is still increasing because operators have been drilling the best of the best wells in all basins via technological advances.
- States as the primary regulators of oil and gas development must promote and document continuous regulatory improvement to reaffirm that they are protecting the public interest, but the onus remains on the oil and gas industry to preserve its social license to operate.