U.S. Agency Boosts Worldwide Shale Gas Projections | StateImpact Pennsylvania Skip Navigation

U.S. Agency Boosts Worldwide Shale Gas Projections

Bogdan Cristel / Reuters/Landov

A man holds a banner that reads "Stop shale gas! Hydraulic fracking will not cure!" during a rally organized by NGOs to mark the World Environment Day in Bucharest last week.

The Energy Information Administration has increased its assessment of the amount of shale gas available worldwide by ten percent. The comparison to a 2011 report shows the “technically available” recoverable gas is now 7,299 trillion cubic feet. That includes unproven resources, which are natural gas deposits that may not be profitable to extract using current technology. The EIA says it has updated their assessment due to new information on shale formations from more countries, and a greater number of shale formations worldwide.

courtesy of the Energy Information Agency

Topping the list are China, Argentina and Algeria, with the U.S. coming in with the fourth largest reserve at 665 trillion cubic feet of “technically recoverable” shale gas resources. Shale gas made up 40 percent of the total natural gas production in the U.S. during 2012. But the EIA cautions against assuming similar booms abroad.

“However, given the variation across the world’s shale formations in both geology and above-the-ground conditions, the extent to which global technically recoverable shale resources will prove to be economically recoverable is not yet clear. The market effect of shale resources outside the United States will depend on their own production costs, volumes, and wellhead prices. For example, a potential shale well that costs twice as much and produces half the output of a typical U.S. well would be unlikely to back out current supply sources of oil or natural gas. In many cases, even significantly smaller differences in costs, well productivity, or both can make the difference between a resource that is a market game changer and one that is economically irrelevant at current market prices.”

Shale gas developers may also have to contend with overseas opposition by those concerned about environmental impacts. Both France and Bulgaria have banned fracking, the process used to extract gas and oil from shale deposits, and several other countries are considering similar restrictions.

Up Next

Pennsylvania's Power Generation Continues a Shift from Coal to Natural Gas