Dozens of countries around the world are deciding whether or not to develop their shale gas and tight oil resources. However, extracting these energy sources poses environmental risks, especially to water.
Drilling and hydraulic fracturing requires up to 25 million liters of water per well, meaning shale resources can be hard to develop where freshwater is hard to find.
The risks and impacts specific to surface and groundwater availability have been thinly documented to date. This tool and the associated report:
This tool shares information that can create dialog among water users from industry, government, and civil society in river basins worldwide. It does not attempt to identify risks to water quality from shale resource development, nor does it assess the oil and gas industry’s water management practices.
Read: Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability and Business Risks
Global Shale Gas Development analyzes water availability across all potentially commercial shale resources worldwide, and finds that limited freshwater supplies could pose challenges to shale resource development on every continent.
WRI assessed water stress in the 20 countries with the largest shale resources. For shale gas, plays in 40% of those countries face high to extremely high water stress: China, Algeria, Mexico, South Africa, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt, and India.
WRI also analyzed water availability for each shale play in 11 countries already developing – or more likely to develop – shale resources: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Six indicators and associated business risks for shale development: Water stress, water-supply variation among months of the year, drought severity, groundwater depletion rates, largest water user, population density, and depth of shale reserve.
Governments, companies, and civil society can help protect water security while minimizing business risks by:
Read the full report.
Eight of the top 20 countries with the largest shale gas technically recoverable resources (TRR) face arid conditions or an average of high to extremely high baseline water stress where the shale is located. China, Mexico, and South Africa stand out, ranking very highly based on the size of their resources and exposure to baseline water stress.
|Country||Estimated resources (trillion cubic feet)||Average water stress over shale play area|
|2||Argentina||802||Low to Medium|
|3||Algeria||707||Arid & Low Water Use|
|4||Canada||573||Low to Medium|
|5||United States||567||Medium to High|
|12||Poland||148||Low to Medium|
|13||France||137||Low to Medium|
|14||Ukraine||128||Low to Medium|
|15||Libya||122||Arid & Low Water Use|
|17||Egypt, Arab Rep.||100||Arid & Low Water Use|
|19||Paraguay||75||Medium to High|
Download the Global Shale Resources Geodatabase from West Virginia University.
Download Aqueduct Global Water Risk Atlas.