Estimated US natural gas resources reach record level

27 April 2011 18:25  [Source: ICIS news]

A natural gas flareWASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US holds domestic resources of natural gas of about 2,170,000bn cubic feet (bcf), a record level that is attributed largely to expanding shale gas reserves, the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) said on Wednesday.

The Potential Gas Committee, based at the Colorado School of Mines, said that its 2010 biennial report on the nation’s gas resources showed a gain of more than 4% in recoverable gas since the committee’s 2008 evaluation.

“Our present assessment, strengthened by robust domestic production levels and a growing base of proved reserves, demonstrates an exceptionally strong and optimistic gas supply picture for the nation,” said John Curtis, professor of geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and director of the school’s potential gas agency.

The agency provides guidance, technical assistance and administrative support to the committee, which receives funding from the natural gas industry.

The committee report said that its new total for available gas supply is the highest in the PGC’s 46-year history.

“Most of the increase arose from re-evaluation of shale gas plays in the Gulf Coast, Mid-Continent and Rocky Mountain areas,” the committee report said.

Shale gas resources account for 687,000 bcf of the total, or nearly one-third of US natural gas supplies, the report indicated.

The American Gas Association (AGA) noted that the future supply of natural gas as measured by the committee’s successive reports shows that gas resources have grown by 71% since 2000.

That growth, said AGA, was primarily the result of improved extraction technologies, especially expanded use of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal drilling in improving access to previously unrecoverable shale gas resources.

The AGA represents nearly 200 natural gas utility companies across the US.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the US consumed about 24,000 bcf of natural gas in 2010.

At that pace, the PGC new estimate of domestic US gas resources represents a 90-year supply.

The full potential for shale gas has come under question because of mounting opposition to fracking from environmental groups, federal and state regulators who are concerned about possible groundwater contamination.

US petrochemical producers and downstream chemical makers are heavily dependent on natural gas as both a major feedstock and power fuel. 

A broad spectrum of other US manufacturing also relies on natgas as an energy source.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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