Science & Technology
7:22 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Marcellus Shale Gas Potential Much Lower than Previously Thought

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) latest report finds reserve estimates for the Marcellus Shale formation are dramatically lower than reported last year. The estimate in the Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) is 141 trillion cubic feet of gas, compared to 410 trillion in 2011.

Policy and Communications Director for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Steve Forde, said that isn't of much concern, and added that the estimate is simply a "snapshot in time." He said the coalition will continue to look at longer-term trends.

"Particularly looking back to when we were asking serious questions about where we were going to get energy for future generations, and looking forward now and seeing that there has been an incredible amount of natural gas discovered in this country and is recoverable thanks to technological advances," he said.

The EIA report states that natural gas production is expected to continue to increase over the coming years, and that by early in the next decade natural gas production in the country will outpace demand. Thanks to Marcellus Shale development, the Commonwealth is already at that point.

"Pennsylvania is actually self-sufficient in natural gas today. That point was hit at some point in 2011, we believe, where production in the Pennsylvania Marcellus is exceeding the demand for natural gas in Pennsylvania," said Forde.

Natural gas prices are expected to remain stable in the next few years, but may increase after 2023.

AEO2012 Early Release Overview
This paper provides an overview of the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2012 report, including a number of figures on natural gas supplies. [PDF]

U.S. natural gas production from 1990-2035, as estimated in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's report.