Saturday, August 27, 2011

Marcellus Shale Estimates Slashed by 80 Percent

Maybe natural gas isn't as bountiful as some like to think.

The United States Geological Survey this week issued a report stating that the Marcellus Shale formation contains 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, but technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable natural gas liquids.

That's well up from the 2 trillion cubic feet estimate issued by the USGS in 2002 for the geological formation that straddles Pennsylvania and New York. The increase is due to advances in hydraulic fracking. However, it is far lower than the estimate of 410 trillion cubic feet that the Energy Information Administration has been recently using. As a result, the EIA said it would reduce its estimates by over 80 percent to match the USGS forecast.

The report will likely give natural gas skeptics ammunition in the debate over the role that gas can and should play in the energy strategy of the U.S. Proponents portray gas as the fuel of the future. Hydraulic fracking has opened up a large number of new fields and caused the price to plummet from $7 for a million BTUs to just over $4.

An MIT report issued earlier this year noted that the U.S. will likely become a net importer of gas by 2030.

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