How Much Marcellus Gas Is There, Anyway?

  • Susan Phillips

Kim Paynter / WHYY/Newsworks.org

Shale lies beneath forests and farms in Lycoming County, Pa.org


Squabbling over just how much gas lies within the Marcellus Shale continues, after two federal government agencies came to two vastly different conclusions this summer.
A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey on the amount of recoverable natural gas in the Marcellus Shale directly contradicts an Energy Department report from July. The U.S.G.S calculates about 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lies within the shale formation beneath a large part of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. But in July, the Energy Information Administration released a study that showed more than 400 trillion cubic feet. That’s a big gap.
Different methodology could explain it. James Coleman is a geologist for the U.S.G.S. He authored Tuesday’s report, and says he met with officials from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday to try to determine what happened.
“Maybe we’re looking at the same thing, and we’re looking at a part of it and they’re looking at the whole thing. We’re trying to understand how we could have come to two very different numbers,” he said.
Coleman says it’s likely to see different estimates from separate agencies, but not a gap of such magnitude. While government scientists are meeting, Coleman says there’s no answer for the divergent measures, so far.
A spokesman for the E.I.A told StateImpact that the U.S.G.S is the gold standard for measuring the gas in the Marcellus Shale.

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