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USGS issues new assessment of Marcellus Shale gas reserves


From the September 7, 2011 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published September 7, 2011

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

The Marcellus Shale formation contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, according to a new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. That is almost 80% less than the quantity reported in the Energy Information Administration’s 2011 Energy Outlook. In response, EIA said it would adopt the new USGS figure.

The estimate of undiscovered natural gas ranges from 43 TCF to 144.1 TCF (95% to 5% probability, respectively), USGS said. The formation also contains 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids, the agency said. The estimate of natural gas liquids ranges from 1.6 billion to 6.2 billion barrels (95% to 5% probability, respectively).

The estimates are for technically recoverable oil and gas resources, which are those quantities of oil and gas producible using currently available technology and industry practices, regardless of economic or accessibility considerations, USGS said. As such, these estimates include resources beneath both onshore and offshore areas (such as Lake Erie) and beneath areas where accessibility may be limited by policy and regulations, the agency said.

The Marcellus Shale assessment covered areas in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, USGS said.

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