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Potential Contribution of Rocky Mountain Unconventional Natural Gas to U. S. Energy Supply – Realities of Resource, Demand and Price Projections

Curtis, John B.
Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO

Projections by United States government and gas industry research organizations indicate that U.S. gas consumption could increase by up to 40% from the current 23 trillion cubic feet by the year 2025. The Rocky Mountain region contains the largest remaining Lower-48 potential gas resource, outside of the U. S. Gulf Coast.

An analysis is made of the gas resource assessments of the Potential Gas Committee for the Rocky Mountain region for the time period 1992 – 2002. The analysis is for 16 geologic provinces in the region. Additionally, Rocky Mountain gas resource estimates from the 1995 U.S. Geological Survey National Assessment (updated through 2004), and the 2003 National Petroleum Council study establish a range of assessed resource values for the region. Lastly, the total United States – Canadian gas resource base is discussed in relation to the Rocky Mountain region.

Gas price projections are examined in light of 1) gas price differentials with other Lower 48 producing regions and Canada, 2) the effects of pipeline capacity constraints to other market regions, 3) competition between natural gas and coal in the electrical power generation sector, and 4) discoveries and reserve additions attributable to the year 2003 gas price increases.