World to gain from gas glut if regulation right

By Henning Gloystein and Oleg Vukmanovic

LONDON/OSLO | Tue May 29, 2012 7:55am EDT

LONDON/OSLO (Reuters) - A boom in unconventional natural gas over the next 20 years could see the United States and others benefit from cheaper energy while the importance of the Middle East declines, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.

Growth in shale and other newly available forms of natural gas in the United States and China could match gains made in conventional gas in Russia, the Middle East and North Africa combined, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told Reuters in an interview.

"Unconventional gas will fracture the status quo, and will be a complete game changer with major geopolitical implications," Birol said.

High natural gas prices over the past years have helped spur investment in previously unavailable, unconventional gas reserves that include so-called tight-gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane resources

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