Shale gas is simply natural gas sourced from shale rocks.
Natural gas – or methane – is found in several different types of rocks, including sandstone, shales and coal seams.
While different (but similar) techniques are used to develop gas from these various rock types, the end product is the same – natural gas.
Natural gas and oil are important fossil fuels formed from the decomposition and pressurisation of algae, plankton and other organisms.
This process forms hydrocarbons. These are compounds consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon that form powerful combustible fuels.
Natural gas is a reliable and flexible fuel.
Natural gas is also important in many industrial processes, including making fertilisers, glass, steel, plastics, paint, fabrics and many other products.
It forms an important part of domestic energy supply and underpins a growing export fuel sector (liquefied natural gas – or LNG).
Gas is used to generate electricity. It can be used for baseload power, peaking power and intermittent power.
It can also be used to directly fuel appliances such as heaters and stoves.