Energy Department: Shale Gas is a Global Phenomenon

New study estimates that shale resource add at least 40 percent to global natural gas resource.

The State Journal
6 April 2011
By Pam Kasey

Shale gas resources, which recently have provided a major boost to U.S. natural gas production, may boost technically recoverable world natural gas resources by 40 percent.

That conclusion, released April 6 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is based on an assessment of basins around the world.

In 2010, U.S. shale gas production reached 4.87 Tcf, 23 percent of total U.S. natural gas production, compared with 0.39 Tcf in 2000, according to the EIA, an increase that has reduced both natural gas prices and dependence on imported natural gas.

Shale gas is estimated to account for nearly half of U.S. natural gas production in 2035 in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2011 reference case.

Curious whether other countries have similar opportunities to develop shale gas, EIA commissioned a study of 48 gas shale basins in 32 countries

In the resulting report, “World Shale Gas Resources: An Initial Assessment of 14 Regions Outside the United States,” technically recoverable natural gas resources in the assessed basins totaled 5,760 trillion cubic feet, or Tcf.

Adding the estimated U.S. shale gas technically recoverable resources of 862 Tcf to the assessments in the study gives a total of 6,622 Tcf.

For comparison, most current estimates of world technically recoverable natural gas resources include few if any of the resources assessed in this study and total about 16,000 Tcf.

"Adding identified shale gas resources to current estimates of other gas resources increases total world technically recoverable resources by over 40 percent, to more than 22,000 trillion cubic feet," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell.

Although estimates of shale gas resources in other parts of the world are highly uncertain, the EIA considers the study to be conservative, as it excludes the gas-rich Russia and Middle East as well as offshore resources