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There's no denying that fracking has turned the U.S. into a force in the global oil and gas markets, which has more than a few people abuzz about the prospect of energy independence.Instead, the research suggests increases have been largely due to something more mundane: low energy prices, which led drillers to focus on sweet spots where oil and gas are easiest to extract.Extrapolating from field studies Montgomery and his colleague Francis O'Sullivan conducted in North Dakota's Bakken shale deposit, the research suggests that total U.S. oil and natural-gas production from new wells could undershoot the EIA estimate by more than 10 percent in 2020 .Intuitively, it makes a lot of sense that better methods have boosted U.S. shale output and helped lead to new finds.In the past three years, oil prices have been stuck around $50 a barrel on the back of rising shale output in the U.S., while natural gas has been selling for an average of less than $3 per million British thermal units.Of course, the MIT researchers aren't the first to question the projected growth of U.S. shale.The Energy Information Administration recently estimated about half of U.S. oil output came from wells two or fewer years old.
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