However, the U.S. is currently the only country to have fully embraced fracking. Its shale gas production increased to 291.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2012, up from 56.6 bcm in 2007—a shift from 8 percent to 35 percent of the U.S.'s total natural gas production.
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China's own shale gas industry is currently extremely small, but its government hopes to emulate the U.S.'s success by upping production to 6.5 bcm by 2015 and 60-to-100 bcm by 2020.
The huge increase in production will make China more economically independent, cutting its gas imports by up to 40 percent. But it could also a blow for several oil-exporting countries, particularly as they will be having to deal with the declining demand from the U.S.
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"Combined with the increase in shale gas production in the U.S., it will hit the economy of small exporters in the developing world," said the Overseas Development Institute, a leading U.K. think tank on development issues, in a report out on Wednesday.
The institute noted that developing countries had already lost around $1.5 billion in gas export revenue due to U.S. shale gas production.
It named Angola and the Republic of the Congo as particularly susceptible to a fall-off in Chinese demand for their gas, and forecast each would suffer a 13 percent hit to national income.
Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea could lose 5 percent of its national income, while Yemen could lose 4 percent. Other countries likely to suffer include Mozambique, Ghana, Mauritania and Nigeria.
The institute highlighted Angola as an example of a country that was reliant on oil revenues and imports, leaving it "highly exposed" to external shocks.
"Any reduction in exports which adversely affects gross domestic product (GDP) could result in reductions in employment, with concomitant social impacts. The lack of effective social protection measures…means that negative effects are more likely to be transmitted immediately," wrote the report's authors, who were led by researcher Zhenbo Hou.
Fracking boost to global GDP
However, Hou found an upside from the boost to the energy supply from fracking. Thanks to the increased supply, global oil prices could fall—which in turn could increase global GDP.
Developing countries which import oil, like India, Senegal and Zambia, would be probable beneficiaries.
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"Because low-income countries tend to use more oil to achieve the same output, and tend to have more constraints on their current accounts, they are most likely to benefit from a reduction in global oil prices," said Zou.
"For non-oil exporting developing countries, the economic impacts can be expected to be broadly positive."