A worker performs a routine check to the valves at a natural gas appraisal well of Sinopec in Langzhong county, Sichuan province March 1, 2011. China, which has by far the world?s largest shale deposits, has just started to exploit this source of unconventional natural gas, as it tries to cut costly foreign oil and gas imports. Picture taken March 1, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
A worker performs a routine check to the valves at a natural gas appraisal well of Sinopec in Langzhong county, Sichuan province March 1, 2011. China, which has by far the world?s largest shale deposits, has just started to exploit this source of unconventional natural gas, as it tries to cut costly foreign oil and gas imports. Picture taken March 1, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

Shale gas is an energy market game-changer and Britain is looking to follow the US, Russia and China's lead in exploring and developing the unconventional gas source.

As part of IBTimes UK's Charts in Focus series, we deliver a handy snap-shot guide to the booming market.

Game-Changing Energy Source

The unconventional gas source has repeatedly been dubbed as the energy industry's "game-changer" by the International Energy Agency and has allowed countries, such as the US, to enjoy depressed gas prices for over half a decade.

Not only is it cleaner fuel to burn than oil or coal, the world has a wealth of untapped resources, waiting to be extracted. [Fig 1.]

[Fig1.] Chart: Reuters
[Fig1.] Chart: Reuters

What is Fracking?

Shale gas uses a method of hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - to extract the energy source from deep underground rocks. It involves drilling holes deep into the ground and then using high-pressure liquid to fracture shale rocks to release gas trapped inside. [Fig 2]

[Fig 2] Chart: Reuters
[Fig 2] Chart: Reuters

Largest Potential Growth Areas

The UK still awaiting exploration and development to commence and therefore verify the amount of available shale gas for production.

However, international energy companies are already looking elsewhere and are exploring, developing and producing the unconventional gas sources in huge markets, such as China. [Fig 3]

[Fig 3] Chart: Reuters
[Fig 3] Chart: Reuters

Related Articles:

Shale Gas: International Firms Tap Into China's Lucrative Market

Dan Byles MP: Shale Gas Could Create 30,000 Jobs and Secure UK Energy [VIDEO]

Budget 2013: Shale Gas Tax Breaks Miss the Point

UK Shale Gas Revolution: Environmental Benefits Are Clear

UK Shale Gas Revolution Faces Planning Law Hurdle

UK Shale Gas Revolution: Debate 'Hot Air' Until Reserves Confirmed