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Realities of Shale Gas Resources: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

John B. Curtis1 and David G. Hill2
1Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
2EnCana Oil and Gas (USA), Inc., Denver, CO

Projections by the United States government indicate that annual U.S. gas demand could increase from the current 22 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) to 26 Tcf by the year 2030. This would occur during a period of declining Canadian gas imports and increasing U.S. reliance on LNG imports, a commodity only available in a highly competitive market. The Rocky Mountain area is projected to have a major role in supplying future demand.

Shale gas production, which dates from 1821 in the United States, is now rapidly increasing, accounting for approximately 5% of annual production. The U. S. Energy Information Administration estimates that shale gas production will overtake coalbed methane production by 2025, and will grow from the current 1 Tcf to 2.3 Tcf annually by 2030.

Shale gas is also an increasingly large component of future, technically recoverable resources. Both of these trends are due to improvements in exploration, completion and production technologies, aided by wellhead price increases.

The latest Potential Gas Committee biennial assessment, (September, 2007), shows an overall increase of 18% (200 Tcf) for total U.S. gas resources. The bulk of this increase is for shale gas resources. This talk analyses shale gas future potential with an emphasis on Rocky Mountain plays and the economic realities of current and emerging U.S. Lower-48 plays.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90092©2009 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section, July 9-11, 2008, Denver, Colorado