shale oil
According to BP's senior economist, the United States is likely to become the top producer of shale oil as early as this year.

Shale oil is set to increase its importance globally and will continue to expand in terms of production and share on the international energy market, according to BP senior economist Lev Freinkman. By 2020, shale oil is predicted to account for 9% of total global production, he said, as part of a presentation on BP's Energy Outlook by 2030 in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Energy Tribune reported.

According to BP's senior economist, the United States is likely to become the top producer of shale oil as early as this year and it is expected to hold its leading position over the next decade.

RELATED: US consumers oppose natural gas exports poll finds

Meanwhile, shale gas will also continue to grow and will account for 18% of the total global production of gas by 2030. The United States enjoys a very favorable position in shale gas production, with a 75% share, Freinkman estimated.

Despite the fact that many countries worldwide have resources, there are currently just four countries that can set up shale gas and oil production: the United States, Russia, Canada and China, he added. The industry requires large-scale development of infrastructure and a skilled workforce to take part in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations, as well as in drilling numerous wells. Moreover, there are a number of other factors, including political and environmental, which can be an obstacle to industry development, Freinkman explained.

RELATED: US oil, chemical companies battle over shale gas exports

He further highlighted the expected increase in export of U.S. shale gas, which is predicted to reach 80 billion cubic meters per annum. It is projected that demand for shale gas will grow, driven mostly by rising consumption in large markets such as China. By 2030 it is estimated that China will import 150 billion cubic meters per year, a threefold rise from the current 50 to 60 billion cubic meters, Freinkman said.

The boom in shale gas and oil production has been the most significant event in the energy world for many years and its impact is going to define markets for years to come, specialists believe. The United States has led the way in development of the industry and naturally has the most beneficial position on the market. While its industry has been working for years now, other countries are just making their tentative first steps in exploration and research.

Analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that a number of countries have the potential to develop shale gas and oil industries over the next few decades. The global shale oil production could reach up to 14 million barrels of oil per day by 2035, which amounts to 12% of the world's total oil supply, PwC found. As a result, oil prices are expected to fall, leading to a change in balance of the world's energy powers. Industry experts believe that lower prices of shale oil would affect traditional oil exporting countries like Russia and the Middle East countries.