Assessment raises US shale oil, gas resources in West by 200-300%

30 April 2013 18:21  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Natural gas and oil resources in three western state shale plays are as much as three times more abundant that earlier estimated, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday.

The USGS said that its latest survey of oil and natgas resources in the Bakken and Three Forks shale plays has found that the two regions contain approximately 6,700bn cubic feet (bcf) of recoverable natural gas and as much 530m bbls of natural gas liquids (NGL).

That estimate of shale gas in the two regions marks a nearly 300% increase from the last USGS assessment in 2008.

The Bakken and Three Forks shale plays underlie large segments of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana in the north-central part of the US West.

USGS said that recoverable shale gas resources in the two plays could even be as high as 11,250 bcf.

The sharp increase in the assessed recoverable volumes of natgas in the three-state region was attributed in large part to new developments in the Three Forks formation.

In addition to the much larger estimate of shale gas in the two plays, USGS said that its assessment of shale oil resources in the region is 200% greater than estimated in 2008.

The Bakken and Three Forks plays are now assessed to hold approximately 7.4bn bbls of recoverable oil.

USGS said that the amount of shale oil in the two plays could be as high as 11.43bn bbls.

“These world class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. 

She said the greatly increased volumes of recoverable shale oil and gas resources are important “as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil”.

Part of the Interior Department, USGS provides periodic assessments of US natural resources for the department, other policymaking agencies and Congress.

The expanded estimates of shale gas and NGLs in the two regions are of particular interest to US petrochemical and downstream chemicals producers, most of whom depend on natgas as both a feedstock and power fuel.

Major advances in shale gas developments in the last five years have triggered a significant resurgence in domestic US chemicals manufacturing.

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


By: Joe Kamalick
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