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U. S. Unconventional Gas Resources - The Forecasted Source of 50% of Production by 2018 Or 2030: What Will Be the Contribution of Shale Gas?

Curtis, John B.1
1 Geology & Geological Eng., Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO.

Projections published in 2008 by the United States government indicated that annual U.S. gas demand could increase from the current 22 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) to 24 Tcf by the year 2016 and then decline to 23 Tcf by 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. To put these numbers into perspective, a 1 Tcf/year increase is a challenge: domestic gas production was flat for nine years prior to 2006. Gas production then increased 9% from 1Q 2007 to 1Q 2008, with Texas (i.e., the Barnett Shale) providing most of this growth.

Shale gas production, which dates from 1821 in the United States, is now rapidly increasing, accounting for approximately 7% 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. Some Industry analysts, apparently using Delphi-type studies, dispute these numbers and claim that shale gas alone will account for 50% of our production within the next 10 years. The developing Haynesville and Marcellus plays are key to their predictions.

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 robustness of the North American gas resource base, particularly shale gas, coalbed methane and tight sands gas needs to be quantified.

The latest Potential Gas Committee (PGC) biennial assessment, (September, 2007), showed an overall increase of 18% (200 Tcf) for total U.S. gas resources. The bulk of this increase was for shale gas resources assessed in the Appalachian, Anadarko, Arkoma, Ft. Worth and Permian basins. This paper analyses shale gas future potential in light of past production, current proved reserves, geological and economic realities of current and emerging Lower-48 U. S. plays and the Spring 2009 PGC natural gas resource assessment.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009