Recoverable global shale reserve estimates revised upward

10 June 2013 18:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Technically recoverable reserves of shale natural gas and oil on a global scale have been revised upward thanks to additional assessments of formations around the world, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced on Monday.

Some 7,299 trillion cubic feet (tcf) (206 trillion cubic metres) of shale gas in the world is technically recoverable, which means it can be produced using current technology without reference to economic profitability, the EIA said. The reserves assessment is an increase of more than 10% from a 2011 report from the agency of 6,622tcf, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the EIA calculated 345bn bbl of technically recoverable shale oil reserves globally. The agency did not calculate worldwide shale oil reserves in its 2011 report, as it focused on shale gas.

The EIA analysis released on Monday contained more information than the agency’s previous assessment two years ago thanks to new global studies done in response to the shale boom occurring in North America.

Forty-one countries, 95 basins and 137 formations were included in the 2013 report, compared with 32 countries, 48 basins and 69 formations in the 2011 report.

In total, shale gas represents 32% of the technically recoverable reserves in the world, while shale oil is 9% of the same global criteria, the EIA said.

In the US, shale gas comprises 27% of technically recoverable reserves and shale oil 26%, the agency said.

China leads the pack in terms of shale gas technically recoverable reserves at 1,115tcf. Argentina is second with 802tcf and Algeria third at 707tcf. North America’s shale gas strength is evidenced with the US having the fourth highest technically recoverable shale gas reserves (665tcf), Canada the fifth (573tcf) and Mexico the sixth (545tcf).

Russia has the largest amount of technically recoverable shale oil at 75bn bbl, followed by the US (58bn bbl), China (32bn bbl), Argentina (27bn bbl) and Libya (26bn bbl).

Shale gas and oil production have flourished in the US and Canada thanks to economic, technological and resource rights factors, while other countries are in the process of gauging how to exploit their reserves.

In reference to US shale production, the EIA report said: “Because they have proven to be quickly producible in large volumes at a relatively low cost, tight oil and shale gas resources have revolutionised US oil and natural gas production, providing 29% of total U.S. crude oil production and 40% of total U.S. natural gas production in 2012.”

“However, given the variation across the world's shale formations in both geology and above-the-ground conditions, the extent to which global technically recoverable shale resources will prove to be economically recoverable is not yet clear,” the report said.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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