US natgas supplies hit record high at 2,384 trillion cubic feet

09 April 2013 18:30  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The amount of recoverable natural gas in the US has reached yet another record high, a key report said on Tuesday, with the supply now measured as enough to meet all domestic US gas needs for 98 years.

In its latest biennial report, the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) at the Colorado School of Mines said that its assessment of the nation’s gas resources at 2,384 trillion cubic feet (tcf) (67.5 trillion cubic metres), “is the highest resource evaluation in the PGC’s 48-year history – exceeding by 486tcf the previous record-high assessment from year-end 2010”.

The report, formally titled the “Potential Supply of Natural Gas in the United States”, is produced in cooperation with the American Gas Association (AGA), the trade group representing utilities that provide natural gas for industrial, commercial, residential uses and, increasingly, electric power generation.

US petrochemicals producers along with downstream chemical manufacturers are heavily dependent on natural gas as both a feedstock and energy fuel.  A broad range of other US manufacturing industries also rely on natural gas.

The 486tcf expansion of the committee’s assessment of natural gas resources since the last report was issued in April 2011 marks a 25% increase in the amount of available gas.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says that the US consumed nearly 24.4tcf of natural gas in 2011.  At that pace, the assessed supply of 2,384tcf would last 98 years.

The earlier 2011 committee assessment said the supply would meet US demand consumption for about 90 years.

AGA president Dave McCurdy said the new committee report “confirms that we can continue to rely on abundant, clean natural gas for our future energy needs [and] we can look forward to decades of market stability”.

As in its earlier 2011 potential gas supply report, the PGC said the large expansion of recoverable natgas resources could be attributed largely to continuing advances in the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling to develop previously unrecoverable gas reserves in dense shale rock deposits.

Citing those technical advances, McCurdy said: “For the next decade and beyond, domestic natural gas supplies are expected to be high enough to support an increase in demand across all sectors – unlocking the door for expansion in residential, business, transportation and commercial and industrial applications”.

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

By: Joe Kamalick
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