The world's next fracking hot spots

September 17, 2013: 10:23 AM ET
fracking hot spots
Shale oil and gas rigs could be popping up around the world as countries look to replicate the U.S. energy boom.
LONDON (CNNMoney)

The U.S. energy boom could go global.

Energy consultant IHS has identified 23 locations around the world -- from Argentina to West Siberia -- that could together hold roughly 175 billion barrels in recoverable oil, far surpassing the 43 billion barrels estimated to be sitting in North America.

The IHS report highlights the Vaca Muerta area in Argentina and North Africa as two regions with huge reserves of tight oil -- or shale oil -- typically extracted using a process known as fracking.

"This study makes clear that the potential for global tight oil is there and that it is very, very large," said IHS research director Jan Roelofsen.

Related: Falling oil prices could spark global turmoil

The energy boom playing out in the U.S. has been driven by companies extracting this kind of oil using fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressure to crack rock and allow oil and gas to flow.

Growth in the fracking industry has helped propel the U.S. out of recession and is reshaping the global oil market as the U.S. becomes less dependent on imports.

But it is a controversial field, with some fearing that fracking contaminates ground water and leads to small earthquakes and tremors. However, many other countries are hoping to jump on the fracking bandwagon to expand their energy production capacity and grow their economies.

Related: Anti-fracking protests delay U.K. drilling

Experts say it will take years for other nations to replicate America's energy success. Regulations, restrictions on access to land and the need to conduct extensive testing can slow progress, and it can be difficult and expensive to hire specialized employees and secure equipment.

"Outside of North America, China, Argentina and maybe Poland, most of these resources will not be contributing to global supply until after 2020," said Will Pearson, Eurasia Group's director of global energy and natural resources.

Fracking fight hits England

The IHS report examined a total of 148 sites around the world and estimates that these sites could yield nearly 300 billion barrels in tight oil. The study used geological data and comparisons to U.S. sites to create its estimates.

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