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Water-Energy Nexus: Business Risks and Rewards

Water scarcity challenges industries around the world. Global population growth and economic development suggest a future of increased demand, competition, and cost for limited freshwater supplies. Scarcer water, in turn, creates new challenges for energy supply because coal, oil, gas, and...

The shale gas revolution, which began nearly 10 years ago in the United States, is poised to spread across the globe. For many countries, shale gas could strengthen energy security while cutting emissions.

But unlocking this massive resource comes with a significant environmental risk: access to freshwater for drinking, agriculture, and industrial use.

Global Shale Gas Development: Water Stress at Shale Plays

Water stress at shale plays around the world. 20 labeled countries have the world’s largest technically recoverable shale gas resources. Circle color indicates average water stress level across a country’s shale plays—circle size indicates overall volume of recoverable shale gas resources.

Dozens of countries are deciding whether or not to develop their shale gas and tight oil resources in order to reduce emissions, create new jobs, and increase national energy supplies. However, extracting natural gas and tight oil from shale poses water risk.

We analyzed water stress levels in the 20 countries with the largest shale gas and tight oil resources, and found that 40 percent face high water stress.


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