The revolution in unconventional oil and gas production is fundamentally changing the United States energy outlook, generating significant new jobs, economic growth and government revenues, according to a new study from economic forecasting firm IHS.

The entire upstream unconventional oil and gas sector will support more than 1.7 million jobs in 2012 at average wage levels dramatically higher than the general economy. The number of jobs is expected to increase to 2.5 million over the next three years. The number of jobs supported will continue to rise to nearly 3.5 million in 2035, according to the study, "America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the Economy." 

"The growth of unconventional oil and gas production is creating a new energy reality for the United States," said Daniel Yergin, IHS vice chairman. "That growth has not only contributed to U.S. energy security but is a significant source of new jobs and economic activity at a time when the economy is a top priority.

"The United States currently has the highest rate of growth in crude oil production capacity in the world and is virtually self-sufficient in natural gas, except for some gas from Canada. This is a stark contrast from when, prior to the unconventional revolution, it was expected that the U.S. would soon become heavily dependent on gas imports," Yergin added.

Future growth in unconventional oil and gas production will drive continued economic expansion in both the near- and long-term, the study says. Annual unconventional tight oil production -- projected at 2 million barrels of oil per day (mvd) for 2012 -- is expected to increase by nearly 70% by 2015 to more than 3.5 million mbd and rise to 4.4 mbd in 2020. 

Unconventional gas production -- shale, plus "tight gas" -- is expected to increase 22% to nearly 42 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2015 (65% of total U.S. gas production) and reach more than 76 Bcf/d in 2035 (75% of total U.S. gas production).