With U.S. oil and gas production at record highs thanks to the development of shale, their potential plays a dominant role in any discussion of where energy will come from in the future.

Wildly successful shale drilling upended expectations of the past that peak oil was imminent. Yet, the high decline rates of shale plays has left many wondering how long technological improvements will overcome geological limitations, wrote J. David Hughes, president of consultancy Global Sustainability Research, in a recent report on behalf of the Post-Carbon Institute.

In the report assessing the 10 major tight oil and shale gas plays in the U.S., Hughes noted that while technological improvements have combined to lower costs and allow oil and gas to be extracted with fewer wells, they “have not significantly increased the ultimate recoverable resource.”

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