Discussion Paper

A Retrospective Review of Shale Gas Development in the United States: What Led to the Boom?


This is the first academic paper that reviews the economic, policy, and technology history of shale gas development in the United States. The primary objective of the paper is to answer the question of what led to the shale gas boom in the United States to help inform stakeholders in those countries that are attempting to develop their own shale gas resources. This paper is also a case study of the incentive, process, and impact of technology innovations and the role of government in promoting technology innovations in the energy industry. Our review finds that government policy, private entrepreneurship, technology innovations, private land and mineral rights ownership, high natural gas prices in the 2000s, and a number of other factors all made important contributions to the shale gas boom.